No Sudden Move (2021, dir. Steven Soderbergh)

Two criminals are hired for a straightforward job: matters get complicated. Excellent period drama, using the tropes of noir to critique capitalism and corporate greed. Lots to relish, not least a cast in depth, plus slick, confident direction, writing, and design. Recommended.

Here’s the trailer.

The Many Saints of Newark (2021, dir. Alan Taylor)

A late 60s/early 70s New Jersey teenager is raised in a mob-affiliated household and neighbourhood. This The Sopranos prequel works as a both an insight into the earlier lives of that series’ main characters, and as a stand-alone movie. Tony Soprano very much a supporting character here: the focus is on his uncle Dickie, played by a never-better Alessandro Nivola.

Here’s the trailer.

Prisoners of the Ghostland (2021, dir. Sion Sono)

A captured bank robber is forced to retrieve a kidnapped woman for a gang boss. A post-apocalyptic samurai/western hybrid, using a Mad Max/Escape from New York structure for all kinds of digressions. It doesn’t all work (the script is the culprit here), but it looks great in a neon Terry Gilliam kinda way, and everyone seems to be having fun.

Here’s the trailer.

Kate (2021, dir. Cedric Nicolas-Troyan)

A Tokyo-based assassin has 24 hours to get revenge on the yakuza chief who fatally poisoned her. The 1940s noir D.O.A., basically, as a stylised action movie. Okay as far as it goes, though the rote script and a fetishized approach to Japanese pop culture detracts from Mary Elizabeth Winstead badassery and intermittently-terrific action choreography.

Here’s the trailer.

I Care a Lot (2020, Dir. J. Blakeson)

A shark like con artist tricks an OAP out of her home and savings only to discover her victim has hidden criminal connections. Deliciously black comedy, with great casting and well written script. Everyone is having a great time here and the result is watchable, thrilling and at times infuriating!

I Care a Lot (2020, Dir. J. Blakeson)

The Yakuza (1974, dir. Sydney Pollack)

A former detective returns to Japan from the US: an old friend’s daughter under threat. Neither quite a neo-noir, an action thriller or a study of overseas crime syndicates, The Yakuza tries to be all three with variable results. Slow, but interesting, with flashes of a darker, better, and more violent film lurking.

Here’s the trailer.

Collide (2016, dir. Eran Creevy)

An American car thief in Berlin commits to a heist to fund his girlfriend’s kidney transplant. Straightforward chase thriller that takes an age to get going. There’s some good direction, and supporting villains Hopkins and Kingsley are fun, but the script is rote, foregrounding coincidences rather than ingenuity.

Here’s the trailer.

The Tax Collector (2020, dir. David Ayer)

An LA gang’s debt collecting team comes up against a rival street organisation. Very straightforward gangland drama/thriller that doesn’t offer much that’s not been seen many times before. Despite director Ayer’s welcome return to the streets, this isn’t near his best work.

Here’s the trailer.

Peninsula [AKA Train To Busan Presents: Peninsula] (2020, dir. Yeon Sang-ho)

A criminal mission to recover cash from a zombie-overrun quarantine zone goes awry. Sprawling, messy, comic-book stand-alone sequel to Train to Busan. No classic this time out, though the mashup of 80s dystopian flicks like Escape from New York and later CG-ish Fast and Furious sequels is at least distinctive.

Here’s the trailer.

John Henry (2020, dir. Will Forbes)

A middle-aged former gang member is forced to confront his past. Slow-burn, stylised LA gangland movie that riffs on John Wick, Tarantino, westerns, folk stories and a lot more. Patchy but with impressive elements, and a fine central performance plus great Ken Foree support.

Here’s the trailer.