Dave Bautista might qualify as the best actor to transition from the professional wrestling world to Hollywood. The two-time WWE Champion and four-time World Heavyweight Champion made his acting debut in 2006 in an episode of Smallville and made an uncredited cameo in the comedy Relative Strangers.
Since those early roles, Dave Bautista has gone from strength to strength, becoming an A-list talent and a significant draw in his own right. His film credits include installments in some of cinema's biggest blockbuster franchises, and he's proved himself to have the chops for action, comedy, drama, horror, and more.
Bautista's future looks bright, as the in-demand star will appear in Dune: Part Two at the end of 2023 and has several other projects in the pipeline.
This piece will rank the 22 best movies Dave Bautista has appeared in, starting with the finest and working down.
1 – Dune (2021, Directed by Denis Villeneuve)
Dune is the only film in Dave Bautista's filmography with a Best Picture Academy Award nomination and, truthfully, the only one that even came close. This epic sci-fi movie adapts the first half of Frank Herbert's 1965 novel. It also marks the third adaptation following David Lynch's 1984 film and John Harrison's 2000 television miniseries. It follows Paul Atreides and his family fighting for the barren desert planet Arrakis.
Timothée Chalamet stars as Paul in an ensemble that includes Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Josh Brolin, Stellan Skarsgård, Zendaya, Jason Momoa, Javier Bardem, and Bautista, who plays the vicious Glossu “Beast” Rabban in typical intimidating style. Dune received ten Academy Award nominations, winning six, including Best Original Score, Best Cinematography, and Best Visual Effects. It's ambitious, gorgeous to look at, brilliantly performed, with a great story and phenomenal world-building.
2 – Avengers: Endgame (2019, Directed by The Russo Brothers)
Dave Bautista has played Drax the Destroyer in the Marvel Cinematic Universe in six movies since 2014. The best film in which his character appears is, ironically, the one in which he had the most minor role. Avengers: Endgame represents the culmination of more than a decade of world-building. It follows the eponymous team and their allies across time as they attempt to undo Thanos' life-erasing actions from 2018's Avengers: Infinity War.
The impressive ensemble cast includes Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, and Josh Brolin. Drax only appears in two significant scenes: the final battle against Thanos after his resurrection with the other erased heroes and at Tony Stark's funeral. Though he has a small role, Bautista's presence feels immense. Avengers: Endgame is an epic movie that's action-packed, great looking, emotional, crammed with unforgettable characters that it manages well, and intensely entertaining. It received a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects.
3 – Avengers: Infinity War (2018, Directed by The Russo Brothers)
The predecessor to Avengers: Endgame, Avengers: Infinity War, is as good in nearly every way. Drax has a more prominent role in this one, as he and his fellow Guardians of the Galaxy team up with the Avengers in an unsuccessful attempt to prevent Thanos from erasing half of all life in the universe. Bautista gives a typically funny and formidable performance.
This movie's star-studded cast includes Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldaña, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Anthony Mackie, and Benedict Cumberbatch. It juggles the vast array of characters brilliantly. Avengers: Infinity War has action, plenty of humor, a stunning aesthetic, tension, and suspense, with a genuine feeling of threat from beginning to end that keeps you on the edge of your seat. Like its sequel, it received a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects.
4 – Guardians of The Galaxy (2014, Directed by James Gunn)
Guardians of the Galaxy marked Dave Bautista's first foray into the world of superhero movies and his debut performance as Drax. It follows a group of extraterrestrial criminals who go on the run after stealing a powerful artifact, then become a family and form the eponymous team. The film surprised many people, and Bautista's competent and humorous performance was one of the most pleasant surprises.
Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldaña, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Lee Pace, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Djimon Hounsou, John C. Reilly, Glenn Close, and Benicio del Toro ensure this is an entertaining romp. Guardians of the Galaxy looks gorgeous, funny, action-packed, and has lots of heart. It propelled a B-list comic book team to Hollywood superstardom and received Academy Award nominations for Best Visual Effects and Best Makeup and Hairstyling.
5 – Blade Runner 2049 (2017, Directed by Denis Villeneuve)
The belated sequel to 1982's Blade Runner, Blade Runner 2049 follows K, a bioengineered Nexus-9 replicant “blade runner” who uncovers a secret that risks destabilizing society and civilization. Dave Bautista plays Sapper Morton, an older, well-read, polite replicant. He also plays the character in the 2017 short film 2048: Nowhere to Run.
It stars Ryan Gosling, who gives a superb performance as K, alongside an eye-catching ensemble that includes Ana de Armas, Robin Wright, Jared Leto, and Harrison Ford, who reprises his role as Rick Deckard from the original film. Blade Runner 2049 is a worthy successor to Blade Runner, which isn't something said often about legacy sequels. It's visually stunning, with a fantastic story, and stands on its own as an outstanding movie in its own right. It received five Academy Award nominations and won one for Best Visual Effects.
6 – Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (2022, Directed by Rian Johnson)
The sequel to 2019's Knives Out, Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery follows master detective Benoit Blanc as he takes on a new case involving tech billionaire Miles Bron on his private Greek island.
Daniel Craig reprises his role as Blanc. A new cast joins him, including Edward Norton as Bron, Janelle Monáe, Kathryn Hahn, Leslie Odom Jr., Jessica Henwick, Kate Hudson. Dave Bautista plays Duke Cody, a video game streamer and men's rights activist invited to the island. Glass Onion is a well-acted film with a brilliant and enthusiastic ensemble. It's funny, intelligent, elaborate, meticulously detailed, and devilishly entertaining. It received an Academy Award nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay.
7 – Guardians of The Galaxy Vol. 3 (2023, Directed by James Gunn)
The most recent installment in the Guardians of the Galaxy trilogy, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, is also the most emotional. Dave Bautista gets a more significant opportunity to showcase his range as Drax, and he does a terrific job. The film follows the eponymous team as they embark on a mission to protect their raccoon member, Rocket, from his sadistic creator, the High Evolutionary.
The movie pulls on the heartstrings as the original Guardians show their loyalty to each other before going their separate ways, setting the scene for a new team to do their thing. Chukwudi Iwuji and Will Poulter join the regular cast as the High Evolutionary and Adam Warlock, slotting in and bringing a lot to the table. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is colorful, thoughtful, teeming with action, and a fitting conclusion to the journey of a team of characters we've come to love.
8 – Guardians of The Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017, Directed by James Gunn)
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is the weakest movie in the Guardians trilogy, but that doesn't make it bad. In other words, they're all great. This one follows the eponymous team around the universe as they assist Peter Quill on his quest to learn more about his mysterious parentage.
Along with his regular co-stars, Dave Bautista is excellent as Drax, and Kurt Russell, Pom Klementieff, and Sylvester Stallone join them, adding more star power to the franchise. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is funny, with great action, dazzling visuals, and bags of heart, and the planet-sized cosmic villain Ego is incredibly potent in this one, with Russell a welcome addition to the MCU in that role. It received a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects.
9 – Knock at The Cabin (2023, Directed by M. Night Shyamalan)
M. Night Shyamalan doesn't make boring movies. The director may not always make good movies, but he doesn't bore his audience. The apocalyptic, psychological horror Knock at the Cabin, based on Paul G. Tremblay's 2018 novel The Cabin at the End of the World, is no different. It follows a family vacationing at a remote cabin held hostage by four strangers who suddenly appear and request an unimaginable sacrifice.
Dave Bautista plays Leonard Brocht, a second-grade teacher and one of the strangers who shows up with an awful request. His impressive and disarming performance as the sympathetic and threatening Leonard makes him stand out alongside a solid cast of Jonathan Groff, Ben Aldridge, Nikki Amuka-Bird, Kristen Cui, Abby Quinn, and Harry Potter's Rupert Grint. It's a well-acted, chilling, and thought-provoking film that begs deeper questions of its audiences.
10 – Spectre (2015, directed by Sam Mendes)
The twenty-fourth movie in the James Bond series, Spectre, stars Daniel Craig in his fourth outing as the iconic secret agent. It's also the poorest of the installments Craig starred in, but still highly watchable. In this one, Bond learns of the sinister international crime organization Spectre, led by the mysterious Ernst Stavro Blofeld.
Craig performs as well as ever, Christoph Waltz dazzles as Blofeld, and support comes from Léa Seydoux, Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris, Monica Bellucci, and Ralph Fiennes, stacking the movie with acting talent. Dave Bautista plays Mr. Hinx, Spectre's top assassin, and performs in an intense and intimidating fashion. This movie is one of the more action-driven installments starring Craig, which may detract from the story. However, it's still inventive, engaging, intelligent, humorous, and awesomely produced. Its only Academy Award nomination was Best Original Song for “Writing's on the Wall,” which it won.
11 – Parachute (2023, directed by Brittany Snow)
Parachute tells a story about an unemployed woman in her twenties who, having recently gotten out of rehab for an eating disorder and body image issues, meets an amiable young man and falls in love. It stars Courtney Eaton as Riley, the young woman, and Thomas Mann as Ethan, the man she falls for.
Dave Bautista makes a cameo here. He plays Bryce, the man who runs a murder mystery dinner theatre company that gives Riley a job. His appearance is a pleasant surprise. Parachute is an intelligent, earnest, compassionate film with a hard-hitting climax. It doesn't tiptoe around its sensitive issues nor glorify eating disorders. Snow deserves credit for an impressive directorial debut that shows natural flair and passion for her craft and the subject matter.
12 – Army of The Dead (2021, Directed by Zack Snyder)
A post-apocalyptic zombie heist movie probably wasn't on too many people's Hollywood bingo cards. However, Army of the Dead follows a group of mercenaries who plan a Las Vegas casino heist in the middle of a zombie apocalypse. Dave Bautista leads the cast commendably as mercenary Scott Ward.
The supporting cast includes Ella Purnell, Omari Hardwick, Ana de la Reguera, and Theo Rossi, and everyone contributes positively. Army of the Dead is gory, action-packed, intelligent, and fun. Though long, it still feels lean enough to enjoy. It doesn't have the eeriness or quality of George A. Romero's best zombie flicks, but the legendary director's influence on Snyder resonates throughout.
13 – Final Score (2018, directed by Scott Mann)
Final Score follows an American ex-soldier as he fights separatists from a fictional Russian republic. Terrorists threaten to blow up a packed London soccer stadium and murder his teenage protégée unless a spectator they've been hunting gets handed to them before the final whistle. Bautista heads the cast as Michael Knox, the former soldier, and does it well.
A strong supporting cast of Pierce Brosnan, Ray Stevenson, Alexandra Dinu, Ralph Brown, and Julian Cheung helps make Final Score worth watching. Although it's one of countless Die Hard knock-offs to have hit Hollywood, it still manages to surprise. It's thrilling, intelligent, humorous, and surprisingly warm.
14 – Thor: Love and Thunder (2022, Directed by Taika Waititi)
Thor: Love and Thunder marks the fourth movie in the Thor tetralogy. The Guardians of the Galaxy merely cameo at the start, meaning Dave Bautista has a minimal role, but he does an excellent job as Drax. The film follows Thor's attempts to stop Gorr, the God Butcher, from killing all gods.
Many people consider it the weakest Thor movie (though detractors of 2013's Thor: The Dark World would like a word), but it's still wildly entertaining. With a core cast of Chris Hemsworth, Christian Bale, Tessa Thompson, Jaimie Alexander, Russell Crowe, Natalie Portman, and director Waititi, why wouldn't it be? Huge credit goes to Bale, who's sinister in his role as Gorr despite limited screen time. Thor: Love and Thunder is fast-paced, action-packed, visually delightful, and hilarious. It does, however, feel all too familiar, like Thor: Ragnarok redux, and it would be better if it felt more distinct and offered more originality.
15 – Master Z: Ip Man Legacy (2018, Directed by Yuen Woo-Ping)
A spin-off of the popular Ip Man series, Master Z: Ip Man Legacy teems with action that's as satisfying as the other films in the franchise. It focuses on the character of Cheung Tin Chi, who, while trying to keep a low profile after Ip Man defeated him, finds himself in trouble after clashing with a powerful foreign foe.
Dave Bautista plays Owen Davidson, the owner of a steakhouse who uses it as a front for his drug smuggling syndicate and the film's main villain. He's as intimidating as ever and highly convincing as a severe threat. Max Zhang makes a likable lead, with Liu Yan, Xing Yu, Michelle Yeoh, and Tony Jaa co-starring in a fine ensemble. Master Z: Ip Man Legacy is energetic, brilliantly choreographed, and a film that any martial arts fan will love every moment of.
16 – Hotel Artemis (2018, Directed by Drew Pearce)
Hotel Artemis tells the story of a secret hospital for criminals in futuristic Los Angeles, run by nurse Jean Thomas, played by Jodie Foster. The ensemble supporting cast includes Sterling K. Brown, Sofia Boutella, Jeff Goldblum, Charlie Day, Brian Tyree Henry, Jenny Slate, Zachary Quinto, and Dave Bautista, who plays Everest, Thomas' aptly named towering orderly.
The eclectic array of actors on display here makes for intriguing viewing, and they give strong performances. Hotel Artemis thrills, but it mainly plays out like an excuse for violence. Action fans will still find plenty to love.
17 – Riddick (2013, Directed by David Twohy)
The third installment in the Chronicles of Riddick franchise, Riddick, finds the title character relying on his instincts to survive following a betrayal that leaves him stranded on a barren planet. Eventually, he joins forces with mercenaries tasked with capturing him to escape a more significant threat to them all.
Vin Diesel gives the usual intense performance as Riddick, with a supporting cast of Jordi Mollà, Matt Nable, Katee Sackhoff, Bokeem Woodbine, Raoul Trujillo, Karl Urban, and Dave Bautista, who plays Diaz, the most reserved member of the bounty hunting team. Riddick is tense and funny but lacking in the eeriness of its predecessors, as the aliens in this one just aren't scary.
18 – The Man With The Iron Fists (2012, Directed by Rza)
Set in 19th-century China, the American martial arts movie The Man with the Iron Fists follows several lone warriors who join forces to defeat a common enemy and save their home of Jungle Village. Bautista plays Brass Body, one of the warriors who can turn his body into metal, making himself invulnerable. He gives a layered performance as the morally conflicted man.
Director RZA plays the eponymous character, and Russell Crowe, Cung Le, Lucy Liu, Byron Mann, Rick Yune, and Jamie Chung have prominent roles in a versatile cast. The Man with the Iron Fists pays affectionate homage to Asian martial arts flicks. The enthusiastic stars give it their all, diving head-on into every scene. The movie features excellent fight choreography and has enough blood to satisfy horror fans. However, it lacks refinement, which exposes RZA's inexperience as a director.
19 – My Spy (2020, Directed by Peter Segal)
My Spy follows a CIA agent who ends up at the mercy of a nine-year-old girl, mature beyond her years, from a family that he and his tech support are performing undercover surveillance on. Dave Bautista plays J.J., the spy, and Chloe Coleman plays Sophie, the young girl, in her film debut. They have excellent chemistry.
My Spy recalls 1990's Kindergarten Cop. Throwing an action star and a cute kid together always makes for silly fun. Mix Kristen Schaal, Parisa Fitz-Henley, and Ken Jeong into the mix for a watchable flick. My Spy is inoffensive and endearing but hardly top-tier. It'll amuse children, but perhaps not adults, though the cast deserves praise for throwing themselves into it and doing their best with the material.
20 – My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done (2009, Directed by Werner Herzog)
Loosely based on the story of Mark Yavorsky, an actor who killed his mother while reenacting a scene from the ancient Greek play Orestes, the crime drama My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done follows a mentally unstable man who murders his mother after becoming obsessed with a play he's in, and the subsequent hostage situation resulting from it.
It stars Michael Shannon as Brad McCullam, the man who kills his mother, alongside a top supporting cast including Willem Dafoe, Chloë Sevigny, Udo Kier, Michael Peña, Grace Zabriskie, and Brad Dourif. Dave Bautista has a tiny role as a police officer. My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done is tantalizingly mysterious, imaginative, and atmospheric but lacks the intelligence and humor of Herzog's best work.
21 – Bushwick (2017, Directed by Jonathan Milott and Cary Murnion)
The action thriller Bushwick chronicles the invasion of Bushwick, Brooklyn, by a mysterious, heavily armed militia. It follows a former United States Navy hospital corpsman and a young civil engineering graduate student forming an unlikely alliance during the invasion. Bautista plays Stupe, the former corpsman, and Brittany Snow plays Lucy, the graduate student. They make an excellent pair and perform well.
Jeremie Harris, Myra Lucretia Taylor, and Arturo Castro are among an otherwise underwhelming cast, and nobody stands out like the two stars. Bushwick strikes a powerful political punch, has impressive camerawork and cinematography, lots 0f high-octane action, and a resounding sense of dread that keeps you on the edge of your seat. Unfortunately, the finished product is short of what its premise promises.
22 – The Warriors Gate (2016, directed by Matthias Hoene)
Sneaking onto this list by the skin of its teeth is the Chinese-French fantasy action-adventure movie The Warriors Gate. It's about a teenager mystically transported to ancient China who learns to become a kung-fu warrior using his existing video game skills. It stars Uriah Shelton as Jack Bronson, the teenager, Mark Chao, Ni Ni, and Bautista, who plays Arun the Cruel, a barbarian king, and the movie's main villain, in an appropriately menacing style.
The Warriors Gate is a colorful, primarily good-natured, action-packed film that struggled to find its audience. It has several 1980s references, which suggests it targets people alive at that time, but the beatboxing and fist bumps make it feel like a movie for teenagers. It also has a few Asian stereotypes, which distract more than amuse.