Explosions, Guns, and Punches, Oh My. The Best Action of 2021

A good Action sequence is something truly amazing to watch, as it can be as expansive as explosions crashing across the screen or more intimate, like a duel between two people. This gives the best action scenes such a range, and in 2021 we were given some genuinely unique spectacles.

For me, the best action scenes excel in every element, whether that be live actions, special effects, digital effects, or animation and bring every facet to shine. It is also the category that looks at some of the department’s people don’t often fully understand, like stunt coordination or the 2nd unit.

So without further ado, these are the moments of action that awed us in 2021. Be warned that there may be slight spoilers ahead for the films in question. Also, click on the banners/titles to see the reviews of each film.

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Jolt – Movie Review

TL;DR – I had so much fun with this film, but it is very much a film made for me, and that mood will not be for everyone.   

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is a mid-credit scene

Disclosure – I paid for the Amazon Prime service that viewed this movie.

Jolt. Image Credit: Amazon Prime.

Jolt Review

There are some films out there that are created on a particular wavelength. These movies have facets that might engage one person but deeply frustrate others. On some level, all films do this, but some hit harder than others. Today we look at a movie that is very much my groove, but oh boy, could this rub others the wrong way.  

So to set the scene, when Lindy (Sofia Weldon) was a child, she tended to explode with violence on a moment’s trigger. Even when she was diagnosed with an intermittent explosive disorder, it did not lead to her getting the help she needed. Now an adult, Lindy (Kate Beckinsale) has it mostly under control, but this needs almost constant electro-shock therapy. Trying to find some normalcy, she tries to go on a date with Justin (Jai Courtney), but things go awry when the waitress (Savvy Clement) is just the worst and when Justin ends up in a dumpster with two bullets in his chest.  

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Without Remorse (Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse) – Movie Review

TL;DR – In many ways, it feels like almost a relic of a different time. But there was a lot of work put into this film, and the cast is clearly here for it.  

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is a mid-credit scene

Disclosure – I paid for the Amazon Prime service that viewed this movie.

Without Remorse (Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse). Image Credit: Amazon Studios.

Without Remorse Review

I am not sure that any modern author’s works have been adapted as much as Tom Clancy. From movies to TV shows to video games, the late author’s name is everywhere as his works of political intrigue get adapted and then readapted. His works are deeply political, so it is always interesting to see how it has been reinterpreted for a different time. Today, I look at the latest film adaption of his work with Without Remorse.     

So to set the scene, we open in Aleppo, Syria, as John Kelly (Michael B. Jordan) and his team are sent sneak into a stronghold to rescue a CIA operative captured by government forces by CIA operative Robert Ritter (Jamie Bell). However, when they arrive, it is not Syrian Government forces holding the officer but Russian forces. As they try to exfil from the building, an RPG splits the team, but they manage to escape. Three months later, John is in Washington DC with his very pregnant wife Pam (Lauren London), preparing to leave the Navy. Still, unknown to him, his old team is getting assassinated one at a time across America.

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The Protégé (The Asset) – Movie Review

TL;DR – Well, look, it is not a great film, but it is not a bad one either. It is just that the narrative is not there to support the action.   

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Disclosure – I paid for the Amazon Prime service that viewed this movie.

The Protégé (The Asset). Image Credit: Amazon Prime.

The Protégé Review –

Some actors out there give solid performances no matter what film they are in. One of those actors is Maggie Q, who I have always seen giving her best in whatever production she is in. Frankly, I am not sure why she is not in more things. Well, today I catch up with her latest action film with The Protégé.    

So to set the scene, in 1991, it was a stormy day in Da Nang, Vietnam. Moody Dutton (Samuel L. Jackson) walks into a hideout to find that all the people inside are dead, bar one little girl hiding Anna (Eva Nguyen Thorsen) in a closet that may have killed them all. Moody can’t leave her alone in the middle of all that death, so he takes her with him. 30-years later, in Bucharest, Romania, a now grown-up, Anna (Maggie Q) and Moody kidnap Vali (George Piștereanu), the kid of a local mobster Don Preda (Velizar Binev), for 3 Million Euros. But while Don Preda blusters, he does not know that Anna is not a kidnapper. Anna is an assassin.

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The Matrix Resurrections – Movie Review

TL;DR – This is a weird yet oddly compelling film that will capture you if it is your mood. If it is not your mood, well, it is going to be a bit of a slog    

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is a post-credit scene

Disclosure – I was invited to a press screening of this film

The Matrix Resurrections. Image Credit: Warner Bros Pictures.

The Matrix Resurrections Review

Of all the films that I have a complicated relationship with, The Matrix series is high on that list. That first film was one of my first entries into the love of cinema, and it still ranks high on my personal Top 10 list. But the sequels also taught me that sometimes lightning doesn’t strike twice. Both are important lessons to learn. However, after all this time, I questioned whether I was ready to enter the Matrix again?

So to set the scene, some years after the end of The Matrix Revolutions, people are still diving into The Matrix. While Bugs (Jessica Henwick) is searching, she discovers a moodle running using old code. Inside, a woman sits talking on the phone, only to discover that the line has been traced and police are on their way. Outside, agents pull up and ask the sergeant why he sent his men in “we can take care of one little girl”, he replies, “no, your agents are already dead”, comes the response. As Bugs follows the program, everything is familiar but wrong. In a way, she can’t put her finger on it. All of this falls apart when one of the Agents notices her and shows a secret portal to a room, the room of one Thomas Anderson, better known as Neo (Keanu Reeves). Okay, so much like Spider-Man: No Way Home, this is a difficult film to talk about because you cannot really discuss it without getting into spoilers at a frighteningly quick pace. So with that in mind, we will give some general impressions and then dive into full spoilers.

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Spider-Man: No Way Home – Movie Review

TL;DR – In every way, this film stuck the landing, but I can’t help but feel that part of the ending didn’t sit well with me.    

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is a mid-credit scene and a post-credit scene that you do not have to stay for

Disclosure – I paid to watch this film

Spider-Man: No Way Home. Image Credit: Sony Pictures.

Spider-Man: No Way Home Review

It has been a while since I have seen a film with so much hype building before release like I think not even Avengers Endgame had this much pressure behind it. As I walked into this film, there was a fear that they would never be able to stick the landing because there was such wide expectations as to what this film was meant to be. However, now that I have seen and had some time to ruminate on it, I think they were able to stick the landing, which is almost remarkable.

So to set the scene, in the closing moments of Spider-Man: Far From Home, internet conspiracy nut J. Jonah Jameson (J. K. Simmons) revealed doctored footage alleging Spider-Man was a murderer, but also showing to the world that Spider-Man was actually Peter Parker (Tom Holland). The adverse reaction is immediate and vicious as public opinion shifts against Peter even though he did nothing wrong. The response is so bad that even his friends MJ (Zendaya) and Ned (Jacob Batalon) can’t get into college because they are caught in the blowback. Not wanting his mistake to hurt his friends, Peter makes a trip to 177A Bleecker Street to meet Dr Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch). Strange promises to cast a spell, so everyone forgets that Peter is Spider-Man, but things go badly wrong. Okay, so this is a difficult film to talk about because you can not really discuss it without getting into spoilers at a frighteningly quick pace. So with that in mind, we will give some general impressions and then dive into full spoilers.

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Jungle Cruise – Movie Review

TL;DR – While it has its moments and is quite watchable, it also can’t escape walking in the shadows of better films of the past.   

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Disclosure – I paid for the Disney+ subscription that viewed this show.

Jungle Cruise. Image Credit: Disney.

Jungle Cruise Review

When Disney gets an idea, they tend to go all-in, having many hits and misses. So when a film based on one of their rides worked, well, then everything was on the table. But for every Pirates of the Caribbean, there is The Haunted Mansion or even Tomorrowland, which means that there was a little trepidation going in even with a solid cast at the helm.

So to set the scene, history had been full of stories of the hidden wonders in the American continent. One such story told of a plant, ‘Tears of the Moon’, that could cure any illness, but no expedition to find it ever succeeded. In 1916 London, England, during World War One, Dr Lily Houghton (Emily Blunt) is trying to access records from the Royal Society to help her locate it. But they refused to give information to a woman, even when she used her brother MacGregor Houghton (Jack Whitehall) as a decoy. But a minor theft later, and they were on their way to Porto Velho on the Amazon River in Brazil, they just needed a captain to take them upriver, and tour boat operator Frank Wolff (Dwayne Johnson) just found their next mark.  

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Red Notice – Movie Review

TL;DR – Personality can only go so far in covering over narrative shortcomings   

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Disclosure – I paid for the Netflix subscription that viewed this film

Red Notice. Image Credit: Netflix.

Red Notice Review

Heists, betrayals, double-crosses, and more. Look, these films are usually my jam. Watching two groups try to outmanoeuvre each other, not knowing if a plan will succeed or fail, is a lot of fun. When you get a film that fails on that front, it can be more disappointing than usual.   

So to set the scene, apparently, when Cleopatra and Mark Anthony married, Marc presented her with three ornate eggs. With their deaths, the eggs were thought a myth until two were found by accident. Today, one of the eggs is held in the museum in Rome … or is it. For FBI profiler on art crime John Hartley (Dwayne Johnson) has had a tip-off that notorious thief Nolan Booth (Ryan Reynolds) is about to steal it. Insert action scene here.

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No Time to Die – Movie Review

TL;DR – A solid ending for Daniel Craig’s run as Bond, giving James the most to play with as the world explodes around him.     

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Disclosure – I was invited to a Press Screening of this film

No Time to Die. Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

No Time to Die Review

Well, it has been a long time, getting from there to here. Eighteen months since it was meant to be released, and Bond is finally making its return. Part of me was concerned that we would never get to see the film out in the real, another part of me was concerned given how Spectre turned out, but here we are. There is always a trepidation going into the film where you know it is an actor’s last. Thankfully, I should not have been concerned because this film almost knocks off Skyfall as my favourite of the Craig era.  

So to set the scene, we open in the middle of the Norwegian winter as a young girl (Coline Defaud) is looking after her sick mother (Mathilde Bourbin). As she is cleaning up a spill, she sees a man in the window wearing a mask. He is here to kill Mr White, but his family is an excellent second choice since he is not there. In the present, Bond (Daniel Craig) and Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux) are enjoying their retirement travelling down the Italian coastline arriving at the town of Matera. Swann is concerned that James keeps looking over his shoulder, but that seems fortuitous given that soon bullets start ringing out across the countryside. 

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Free Guy – Movie Review

TL;DR – A film that works through the sheer charisma of its cast but left me feeling hollow when I left.    

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Disclosure – I paid to see this film

Free Guy. Image Credit: 20th Century Studios.

Free Guy Review

I had wanted to catch Free Guy for a couple of weeks now, but schedules never lined up, well that was until today when I managed to slip in just in time for the start of the film. I was intrigued because I like Ryan Reynolds as an actor, and I enjoy the video game/streaming intersection that the game is delving into. However, as I walked away from the cinemas there felt like a lot of opportunities were not taken. 

So to set the scene, every day, Guy (Ryan Reynolds) wakes up, wishes his goldfish a good morning, gets a coffee, and goes to work at the bank, where he gets robbed multiple times a day. Because Guy is an NPC (non-player character) in the video game Free City. However, one day he notices one of the player characters in the game is humming a song that he loves, and it breaks him from his gameplay loop. It is here where he discovers a whole new world is just under his fingertips … or glasses.

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