Tenet

– both leads are phenomenal in this fast paced, slickly shot headscratcher that’s as confusing as it is engaging and either too clever or too tangled for its own good. Not as enjoyable as Nolan’s last few films (excluding The Dark Knight Rises which is a bad anomaly).

Barry S01 (TV)

– I wanted to like this much more than I actually did. While clearly a Bill Hader vanity project, he’s easily good enough to carry it, and in a silly way the plot just about works. The tone is all over the shop though, sometimes slapstick goofball (and unfunny) comedy, sometimes sharply witty, and sometimes quite devastating drama. If it were consistently smarter and funnier, it might work, but as it stands, it falls short.

Midway

– typical Roland Emmerich action thriller (Independence Day, 2012): talking torsos surveying destruction as it unfolds on a green screen and flag waving as they stare down the barrel of inevitable defeat to ultimately triumph against the odds. If glorifying war wasn’t enough, it also features some of the thinnest female characters ever committed to screen. Yeah, it’s a Sunday movie, and absolutely undeserving of its current IMDb/ TMDb ratings.

Extraction

– it’s open warfare in the streets as Hemsworth trades hammer for Glock, struts his Jason Bourne, rips some limbs, kicks some ass and racks up an easy three figure body count. Where are the press? Where is… pretty much everyone other than the goons getting nailed? Nobody knows. This is some old school action silliness right here. Slick but utterly absurd. Good fun though, and with a name like Extraction, did anybody expect any different?

Bad Boys For Life

– To contrast with the Smiley of Approval, maybe I should introduce a sad face for truly disappointing films. Given my fondly nostalgic memories of its progenitors, this pitiful, unfunny excuse for an action comedy would certainly deserve one. A generous viewer might argue the buddy cop duo themselves at least retain a degree of charisma, but even that’s a stretch. A great shame.

Onward

– an inept boy struggles to get over the loss of his dad while learning to appreciate his brother in the emotional plot underpinning this animated magic adventure. Whether it works for you is likely to correlate directly with your own family relationships. It’s certainly less adult-friendly than some other Pixar creations, generally eschewing wit and pop culture references in favour of slapstick comedy as it ploughs a familiar feel good groove, reiterating the beloved Hollywood values of family, standing on your own two feet, and facing your fears.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

– a masterpiece of creativity and a reminder of why superhero movies ever became popular in the first place. This is a self-referential, hilariously witty and inspiring animated genre mash-up that leaves every other superhero movie looking tired and tropid. A pleasure from start to finish.

Guns Akimbo

– Had an absolute blast watching this. Did not expect that. In a similar vein to Zombieland, everything about it is stupid, starting with the premise, through to the tattooed, gleefully whining villain, and including the immature humour. Yet somehow, if you don’t think too hard about it, or think about it at all really, it absolutely works as an overall package, and is massively, embarrassingly, entertaining; a riot.

Freaks (2019)

– a pretty derivative addition to the ‘superkid’ dystopian sci-fi genre, very obviously ripping on Stranger Things and X-men. More than half way through it musters some excitement, but still ends with too many questions to ignore.

Watchmen S01 (TV)

– Not quite a masterpiece but certainly a masterful piece of TV storytelling. Racism, identity, time travel, religion and transgression are just some of the themes considered, all under the guise of a slickly produced and extremely stylish action thriller. Nice work.

1917

– The problem with this style of cinema is that it’s massively distracting. It invites more time spent wondering about the production methods, hidden cuts, and how the environment is mapped out than engaging with the characters and story. Without the self-imposed constraints of the single take impression it could have been a better film, and still included long takes where appropriate. Instead, it belongs in the same category as Gravity: an incredible feat of film-making at the cost of storytelling. But like Gravity, is an unmissable spectacle and deserving of accolade.

The Witcher S01 (TV)

– another disappointing video game adaptation, this one hoping to capture the Game of Thrones audience with a moody atmosphere, the requisite conspiratorial plotting and plenty of gore. Though a huge fan of the games, I found this dull and confusing.

Captain Marvel

– flash flash bang bang, lots of orange, lots of blue, lots of little green men. It’s a bog standard Marvel film with a bit less humour than usual. Take it or leave it.

Zombieland 2: Double Tap

– lacks the pinache and originality of its predecessor and the plot is weak at best, but there are still enough laughs to be had, and the feel good vibe and self referential comedy make for a lighthearted fun few hours.

Animal Kingdom S03 (TV)

– there’s nothing more criminal in this series than the way it has turned a menacing, high stakes crime drama into a chaotic, madcap and asinine catalogue of errors; as if the writers decided as long as they included the stock ingredients of drug-taking, sex and random acts of violence, they could avoid actually having to drum up a compelling storyline or any innovative new heists. This is terrible writing with nearly nothing to redeem it. As a fan of series 1, I can only hope they seriously upped the game for season 4. I’m not holding my breath.

Aladdin

– adults are clearly not the target audience for this cringeworthy musical adaptation of the classic from Guy Ritchie, but kids will enjoy it, and thankfully, Will Smith offers some light relief as the hammy genie who goes above and beyond.

The Boys S01 (TV)

– wildly original as well as just plain wild, this is a superhero misadventure with more dark twists and psycho kinks than a comicon in a bondage dungeon. The script is often too try-hard, whether in attempts at shock or humour, and the characters and Machiavellian scheming sometimes just too obvious, but as a cocktail, it’s hard not to swallow the lot with a giddy smile and extend the glass for more. Cross Deadpool with Banshee and you’re somewhere close – Antony Starr sure can pick ’em.

Solo: A Star Wars Story

– immensely underwhelming given the cast and director. Ehrenreich’s Han Solo is unlikeable, pompous, and apparently astonishingly lucky. With endlessly annoying smug bluster, he squares off against and double crosses two dimensional villains while joining some story dots for all the fans who aren’t bored yet.

Shaft (2019)

– three generations of Shaft buck the man and take on the crooks of Harlem in this silly, tongue-in-cheek action remake. Its humour stems from irreverantly playing with questionable notions of masculinity, casual misogyny and millennial bashing, and though it tries to do it with enough swagger that nobody cares, it still feels a few decades too late. Not offensive, just a bit pathetic.

Animal Kingdom S02 (TV)

– the crazed family of thieves continue to trample each other and everyone nearby in their attempts to earn a quick buck, get high or get laid. While there are some major plot developments this series and it remains easy viewing, the show feels less even-handed and considered than its prequel, with a reckless, scattergun approach that is messy and unconvincing.

Polar

– some will hate its overt comic book stylings and video game sensibilities – the shamelessly titillating nudity, caricatured villains and vividly graphic violence – but for fans of the genre this is a slickly produced and exhilarating ride.

Hunter Killer

– An hour or so in, this flag-waving, chest-thumping, oohrah-ing submarine thriller proves better than expected, though the usual formulaic ingredients of rallying speeches, classified intel and trigger-happy Russian villains don’t feel any fresher.

Kidnap

– If there was ever such a genre as straight-to-DVD, bargain basket thriller, this is the epitomy. An extended and exhaustingly uninspired car chase from start to finish.

The Wandering Earth

– albeit commendably audatious in scope and premise, this futuristic space sci-fi is weighed down by exposition and video games graphics. A reminder that mass appeal doesn’t necessarily correlate with quality.

Avengers: Endgame

– some jokes, some tedium, some indulgent moping, and enough dodgy CGI to remake the Star Wars prequels results in a (just about) tolerable three hours, and thankfully, finally, maybe, a conclusion to the Avengers. Can we have the actors back now?

John Wick Chapter 3: Parabellum

– nobody watches John Wick for the hackneyed dialogue and messy rash of allegiances and fealties masquerading as plot. They watch for the unstoppable, relentless action, and there’s not a franchise that does this particular brand of highly choreographed violence better. It’s artistry, really.

The Matrix

– Wow. How a film can continue to conjure such immediate wonder, excitement and hope after 20 years defies explanation. An absolute thrill ride, every bit as fresh as when I first viewed it all those years ago. A once in a generation, maybe even once in a lifetime masterpiece.

The Wolf’s Call

– Wonderfully dramatic French thriller – such a refreshing surprise. Yes, it’s full of absurdly Hollywoodised moments, but they have a kind of hammy charm, and the overall suspense and tension is terrific throughout. Thoroughly enjoyed this one!

Glass

– After an engaging start this superhero idiocy rapidly succumbs to tedium. Other than James McAvoys eclectic performance, there’s nothing here even of note. Immensely dull.

Creed

– pretty bog standard boxing movie, strong on the hype, short on the boxing. Got me fired up though, which is what you want from this sort of thing.

Venom

– more enjoyable than most superhero flicks, particularly thanks to the twisted humour and Tom Hardy’s performance, but at the end of the day, it’s as predictable and inevitable as every other in the genre.

The Meg

– exactly what you’d expect from a Jason Statham action thriller about a super shark attacking a research centre (or maybe a bit worse). Brainless, ridiculous, and not particularly entertaining either.

Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle

– Serkis goes full on Lord of the Rings in his direction of this loose Jungle Book adaptation. It’s polished and easy viewing, but the superfluity of CGI is a constant barrier to getting truly lost in the trees. Good family-friendly adventure though.

Free Fire

– exhausting sequence of swagger, machismo and mishaps, punctuated by endless chaotic gunfire. If it all ultimately makes sense, I didn’t care enough to notice.

Deadpool 2

– the gag rate is comfortably high enough that when one or two fall flat the next one is already tickling your funny bone, and the ‘meta’ self-awareness works much better than it should. The action sequences are slick, and overall the only downside is the formulaic, stock superhero-movie plot. I think what I’m trying to say is, damn it, but if this isn’t actually quite a good film.

Bodyguard S01 (TV)

– after a phenomenal start that marked a new bar for British TV, with set pieces that would have been polished even for Hollywood thrillers, the story and action slips into familiar clichéd territory and intensity becomes absurdity. That said, this is still an extremely compelling and smartly delivered BBC drama, ideal for an edge of the seat binge watch.

Avengers: Infinity War

– the celebrity clique continues their witty repartee even as the galaxy is dismantled around them. The latest superhero adventure is another 150 futile minutes of baffling, headache inducing CGI. It’s like watching a firework display. That said, if video game cut scenes and Marvel lore are your bag, this one will keep you hooked.

Mission: Impossible 6 Fallout

– enjoyable in the same way The Transporter was enjoyable, feel good vibes, exhilarating action, a smug confidence that feels infectious etc. But the premise is horrible, the exposition staggeringly dense, and the visuals are strangely tacky. Treat it like any other action film and it’s worth a watch, but don’t expect greatness.

Non-Stop

– don’t be misled by the stellar cast, this is exactly as tedious as you would expect a Neeson action thriller to be, even down to the cheesy romances shoehorned in.

Rampage

– one of those action films with minimal story and maximum wanton destruction. The Rock is charming as ever, but even with his charisma, this is shallow and tedious.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

– Enjoyed it as I would more or less any JP movie, but with 90% of the action taking place in one manor house (which is as aesthetically pleasing as a nuclear bunker), it felt pretty one dimensional and tonally uninteresting. The jokes were mostly contrived or fell flat, except for a couple of slapstick bits which got a good laugh. I’d recommend it for a sleepy Sunday, but versus my expectations (and the last movie), it was substandard.

Den of Thieves

– the one gripping heist sequence towards the end is very tightly executed, but the rest of this macho thriller is so testosterone fuelled and trite it’s off-putting. Too long as well.

Ready Player One

– albeit a children’s film through and through (hence extra-condescending exposition), this is a brilliant dystopian sci-fi adventure – a love letter to video game nerds and pop culture nerds alike, filled with a ton of references and Easter Eggs. Thoroughly entertaining.

Black Panther

– race and gender power aside (which admittedly, stands this film head and shoulders above its peers), this is more formulaic superhero guff. I’m calling time on comic blockbusters.

Shooter S02 (TV)

– Another stunted season due to Ryan Philippe’s freak injury. Probably a saving grace to be frank. Despite a good turn from Josh Stewart (under-appreciated as always but well cast here), this was fraught with cliche, stupidity and wearisome machismo.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

– a big budget spectacle which pales in comparison to its chronological predecessor. The plot alone is reason enough to face palm. Without the scene stealing performances from Oscar Isaac, John Boyega and Adam Driver, there would be no reason at all to watch this.

Wonder Woman

– massively overrated superhero tedium. Hollywood continues spewing out the same old same, finding a new face to prop it up and a new marketing ploy to sell it. How this is acclaimed I cannot fathom.

Mother!

– a spectacularly menacing and then outright batshit crazy visual assault. Recommended if only for the masterful film-making, this is an unpleasant allegory with the subtlety and nuance of a battering ram. (Key clue: Mother! is Mother Nature).

Dunkirk

– innovative and powerful war film. Hardly something to get excited about though. Nolan’s worst in my view – at least in terms of enjoyment.

Battle Royale

– unclear about the tremendous hype for this one. A bit of a tedious slog to watch kids kill themselves and each other on an island. The premise is never satisfactorily explained and the bizarre conclusion offers no actual conclusion. Weird.

John Wick: Chapter 2

– after a profoundly tedious opening act, the action hots up and it delivers exactly what you’d expect: highly choreographed, laughably ludicrous fight sequences and good manners. Hits the spot if mindless violence is what you’re after.

Kong: Skull Island

– a spectacle at the very least. Drawing strongly on Heart of Darkness and Apocalypse Now influence, this is a fast paced action thriller that ought to entertain even the most passive of audiences.

Hacksaw Ridge

– war film that has its moments but more often than not resorts to all guns blazing, chaos of war scenes with gore and fire aplenty. It could have been abbreviated hugely without losing any impact.

Spectral

– after a promising, intelligent and smartly scripted start, this sci-fi crumbles into far fetched stupidity and unexciting action. A shame, because James Badge Dale delivers beyond the call of duty as the lead.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

– every time I think Superhero movies can’t get any worse, Hollywood squeezes out another turd. Miserable, long and confused; by now somebody has surely identified Zac Snyder as a child in adult’s clothing. Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor is an abomination, just disgustingly self-indulgent ham acting. Not all villains can be Ledger’s Joker, but man alive, someone out there must be able to do better than this? Maybe we need a decade or two pause to reflect upon what makes Superhero movies worth watching.

Hyena

– macho, gruesomely violent British thriller. Not especially thrilling, uncomfortably coarse, and most egregious of all: utterly unrewarding and unsatisfying. Don’t waste your time.

Deadpool

– Certainly novel, I’ll give it that. Comedically it misses as often as it hits though, and it’s gratuitously redband to a distracting extent. That said, it’s very entertaining and a refreshingly self-aware ‘meta’ take on the superhero action genre.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

– albeit a rehash of earlier film plots and a tribute to some of the (very) old characters, this is still a moderately enjoyable entry into the sci-fi franchise. Very much a ‘kids film’, the world and the action is unconvincing but innocuous, vacuous fun. Nowhere near deserving of the hype.

The Gunman

– Tedious, predictable and miscast action thriller. Penn ‘in shape’ looks out of sorts and none of the characters are sympathetic. Not painful, but not worth your time either.

Fast and Furious 7

– Exhausting nonstop action and ripe cheesy scripting leaves the 7th film in the dust of the far superior 5th and 6th franchise outings. However, the technical inclusion of the late Paul Walker throughout the movie, post humously, is seriously impressive, and their tribute to him is heartfelt and worth recognising.

Rosewater

– Moderately interesting and well acted drama about an Iranian journalist imprisoned for his coverage of government military repression. Not unique among this type of film, and many others have done it better.

Mad Max: Fury Road

– An orgastic and maniacal apocalyptic symphony. Revel in the roar of engines, the screech and crunch of metal upon metal, and the sheer depravity of Miller’s explosive bicolour vision. If none of that sounds fun – give this a very wide berth!

Avengers: Age of Ultron

– The medley of action men (and women) tear it up again with the usual quips and techno gizmos. If you’re not bored of superheroes, there’s probably something here for you. Personally the genre is almost dead to me.

Lucy

– Riddled with more holes than one of Lucy’s victims, this Besson action sci fi is nonetheless a lot of fun. Take it with a pinch of salt.

The Equalizer

– slick and highly entertaining action thriller from Antoine Fuqua, strongly influenced by Tony Scott style and delivered with aplomb. Denzel is a pleasure to watch. Leave expectations of subtetly and humanity at the door and this will be an absolute treat.

Sabotage

– Slick action and some terrific set pieces are strung together with innovative camerawork, but what a crushing shame that the storyline (and at times, the acting) are indefensible in their inanity.

The Expendables 3

– As expected: a nonsensical, incoherent mess of explosions, gunfire and macho babble filled with action dinosaurs that should have died in the line of duty a long time ago. Unimaginably boring and horribly scripted.

Pompeii

– Ridiculuous and laughably hammy, this gladiatorial blockbuster still ticks all the right boxes for good entertainment, despite insipid performances from all but Sutherland, who is having such a blast being evil that he’s a total caricature, and consequently great fun!

2001: A Space Odyssey

– Understandably a classic space sci fi. Striking imagery and an ambitious, epic, aeon-spanning story. Not easily watchable though – it’s very long and slumbrous, even boring, with extended silences and often little onscreen action. Remarkable what Kubrick achieved for the time though.

Edge of Tomorrow

– Hugely entertaining and funny action/ borderline action-comedy. Tom Cruise excels and glows in a way that he hasn’t for years, and Emily Blunt is a strong support. A lot of fun to be had with the premise, and they have it all. Highly recommended.

Banshee S01

– Give it a chance. Yes it’s stylised, yes it’s testosterone fuelled and macho, but the story really gels together tightly as the episodes progress, and the characters endear themselves quickly. The writing is smart and witty, even laugh out loud at times, and whilst the female characters are indubitably sexualised, they are also strong willed, intelligent and resilient. It’s an excellent hybrid of procedural and serial, with an overarching narrative that progresses swiftly enough whilst always including a novel element each episode. Highly recommended, and with room still to grow. Antony Starr is a revelation.

Amazing Spider Man 2

– CGI heavy superhero sequel that doesn’t come close to its predecessor. Spidey is still full of entertaining quips but the plot is garbled and as usual, too many (two dimensional) villains spoil the broth. Garfield and Stone carry it.

Thor: The Dark World

– Bad, CGI heavy sequel to the original superhero epic, full of tropes, predictable twists and horribly clumsy script. Thankfully, between them, Hiddleston and Hemsworth have just about enough charisma that it is bearable, if not recommended.

The Last Stand

– This film has no redeemable qualities, or indeed qualities at all. Not just one of the worst action films I have ever seen, but one of the worst films full stop. A horrible combination of long and terrible.

Mammoth

– Sincere and touching dramatical portrait of long distance family relationships. Existential, without clear didacticism. Lack of uplifting resolution might alienate some viewers.

2 Guns

– A business exercise, nothing more. Marky Mark and Denzel are watchable as ever, but there is nothing special to remark upon here. Formulaic, uninspired, drab. The usual male Hollywood box of tricks with a token beauty for eyecandy and the obligatory titty shot.

Kick Ass 2

– the first one was original and quirky, this is just kind of stupid. The whole farcical superhero thing already feels old and Hit Girl’s role is so feeble for the most part that there’s barely any slick action, just teen angst from whiny adolescents and contradicting moral messages.

Escape Plan

– Flawed on a lot of levels (not least with some dodgy CGI), but nonetheless slick and thrilling. The script is almost surreal in it’s absurdity, but action fans will love it. Hugely enjoyable.

The Shooting Party

– Insightful period drama surrounding a bourgeois country estate set against the backdrop of impending war. All star cast deliver fine performances. More allegorical and subtly illuminating than eventful.

Safe (2012)

– Exactly what you expect from a Statham action thriller. Heavy on the action, light on the thrills, a ton of one liners and several hospitals worth of broken limbs. If you’re a fan of the Stath, there’s no reason this should disappoint.

Real Steel

– Jackman’s charisma pulls it through the face palming cheese. The story arc is badly paced so it ends abruptly, but it’s steely enough feel-good blockbuster entertainment.

Avengers Assemble

– The usual mish mash of sardonic wit and adrenaline fuelled action. Takes a little while to get going but the second half is especially enjoyable. Better than other recent efforts in this genre (Thor, Captain America – I’m looking at you…)

Hanna

– Original but peculiar viewing. Sandwiched between a thrilling beginning and a (cheesy) straight forward ending, is Hanna’s random (and forced) relationship with an eccentric British family that are like caricatures from a bad ITV sitcom. This is undeniably stylish, but just too ridiculous and plot hole ridden to stand up as an excellent thriller. Not to mention, Wright appears to be obsessed with tunnels and Chemical Brothers. Literally every action scene takes place in a tunnel. Quite bizarre.

The Heat

– Infantile and way off the mark, The Heat was about as funny as a school shooting. The alleged comedy relies on Melissa McCarthy’s coarse language and Sandra Bullock’s manly figure.

Dredd

– The eponymous Judge dessimates a tower block of drug fuelled gang members in this straight forward action shoot ’em up. Laughably ludicrous but good, mindless fun.

Broken City

– Straight up, fast moving thriller with Marky Mark doing his action thing. Smarter than most, but unfortunately a little conceited as a result, the impact is lessened by some perfunctory story lines and irritatingly lazy contrivances. Nonetheless, a good yarn at its core.

Lockout

– possibly the worst sci-fi film I’ve ever seen. More plot holes than words in the script. Simply awful awful film making. Even the action sequences and special effects are dire. Who thought throwing millions of dollars at this terrible excuse for a script was a good idea? Next time pay me and I’ll shit you a better script.

Jack Reacher

– This bizarre and contrived film might raise a smile, but it can’t decide whether it wants to be a comedy, an action movie, or a thriller. Essentially a vanity project for Cruise, and it really shows.