The Matrix Resurrections (2021, dir. Lana Wachowski)

A computer games designer discovers he’s in a simulation. Meta belated sequel with some fun ideas about reboots, too much clumsy cod philosophy, and plenty of decent performances. However, poor action staging, awkward recasting of key roles, and weak storytelling undo good intentions.

Here’s the trailer.

GI Joe Origins: Snake Eyes [AKA Snake Eyes] (2021, dir. Robert Schwentke)

A martial artist seeking revenge for his father’s death joins a yakuza clan. While it looks good, this is an oddly pointless reboot with muddy, incoherent action, the wasting of some decent onscreen talent, and a miscast lead. Golding can be great, but he’s more George Clooney than the Sho Kusugi that the role needs.

Here’s the trailer.

One Shot (2021, dir. James Nunn)

A CIA black site comes under attack: a Navy SEAL team must extract a high-value asset. A sustained firefight shot 1917-style as a single take, cheerily lifting structural elements from Aliens. Bags of well-coordinated action, with star Adkins as committed as ever: an impressive job, with modest resources absolutely maximised.

Here’s the trailer

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.

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.

400 Bullets (2020, dir. Tom Paton)

Two soldiers protect a case of missile chips against superior opposition. OK low-budget military actioner that doesn’t quite maximise its potential to do Assault On Precinct 13 in Afghanistan. Still, there’s some promise in the handling of limited resources, and there’s more to come from the talented Jean-Paul Ly.

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.

The Paper Tigers (2020, dir. Tran Quoc Bao)

Three middle-aged former martial arts students reunite to investigate the killing of their mentor. Straightforward but charming low-budget comedy with action elements: clearly a labour of love, there’s plenty to appreciate here, so the prospect of more from this writer-director is an appealing one.

Here’s the trailer.

Gunpowder Milkshake (2021, dir. Navot Papushado)

A hitwoman becomes embroiled in an escalating series of double-crosses when a job goes awry. Stylised John Wick-ish action comedy squandering an excellent cast on a cliched script, and on a baffling series of distancing techniques rendering the flick good-looking (and sounding) but empty, flat and uninvolving.

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.