F9 [AKA F9: The Fast Saga; Fast & Furious 9] (2021, dir. Justin Lin)

The Torettos and friends search for a codebreaking device. More of the increasingly-interchangeable series: 150 minutes of soapy sentimentality, decent stuntwork, and terrible physics-worrying spectacle. Director Lin does what he can with the material tho, and there’s some fun moments from seasoned character actors like Shea Whigham.

Here’s the trailer. And here’s another view.

Dangerous [AKA Wake] (2021, dir. David Hackl)

An ex-con sociopath attending his brother’s wake defends a remote island from attackers. Messy action thriller with black comedy elements. It doesn’t hang together, but there’s neat moments throughout, plus a strong if mismatched cast each in their own movie.

Here’s the trailer.

Castle Falls (2021, dir. Dolph Lundgren)

A failed MMA fighter, a desperate cop, and drug dealers converge on a building set for demolition where’s there’s cash stashed. It takes ages to get going, but there’s enough lo-fi action in the last 40 minutes to keep Adkins fans happy. The premise isn’t maximised, but there’s a sense of blue-collar necessity driving matters.

Here’s the trailer.

Ghostbusters Afterlife (2021, Dir. Jason Reitman)

The estranged family of Egon Spengler return to his home town and uncover a ghostly plan to destroy the world. While fun, this is too reliant on spoon feeding nostalgia and ticking fan check boxes. A good cast keeps you interested, but the film struggles with pacing and coherence at times.

Ghostbusters Afterlife (2021, Dir. Jason Reitman)

The Matrix Resurrections (2021, Dir. Lana Wachowski)

Mr. Anderson once again suffers reality confusion in this complex sequel. Less bible and message laden than some of the others, this refocuses things with a new deeply meta twist. Though a tad bloated and with little new to say, this still manages to be visually compelling.

Matrix Resurrections (2021, Dir. Lana Wachowski)

The Protégé [AKA The Asset] (2021, dir. Martin Campbell)

An assassin tracks those who killed her mentor. While the script gets bogged down in backstory and complications, there’s a sense of unfussy confidence in the direction, action choreography, editing, and stuntwork that makes this a worthwhile watch. A decent – if to-type – cast helps. Some corners cut in production design don’t help.

Here’s the trailer.

Don’t Breathe 2 (2021, dir. Rodo Sayagues)

A blind veteran protects a child from home invaders. Undeniably stylish and well-made horror/thriller sequel, though one with daft plot developments and a grimy aftertaste that takes it into torture porn territory. Nevertheless, director Sayagues is a talent: let’s hope there’s a more balanced script next time out.

Here’s the trailer.

The Suicide Squad (2021, dir. James Gunn)

Convicted DC supervillains are recruited to undertake a covert mission. Splashy flip splattery slapstick action comedy sequel, developing into a Ghostbusters variant. Some poetic moments help, though the crowded cast needs more time to breathe than can be given here.

Here’s the trailer.

Copshop (2021, dir. Joe Carnahan)

A rookie cop gets caught between a hitman and a conman in a locked-down police station. Fun little action thriller that doesn’t focus enough to be a minor classic, even if there’s some badassery and two great performances. Almost there, but not quite.

Here’s the trailer.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021, dir. Destin Daniel Cretton)

The son of an immortal warlord must face his father. Patchy and nigh-plotless superhero action-adventure origin story, drawing on allsorts. Incidental pleasures aplenty (a poster for Walter Hill’s The Warriors) but this is for fans of the character and Marvel completists only. Still, some fun details are to be found, and there’s one gleeful supporting performance.

Here’s the trailer.