Mosul (2020, dir. Matthew Michael Carnahan)

A young police officer is co-opted into an elite SWAT team on a behind enemy lines mission in Mosul against Daesh. Compelling rookie’s eye view of a single day of combat, rendered in semi-documentary style. Plenty to appreciate, not least the refusal to overly Westernise the movie. Recommended.

Here’s the trailer.

The Park Is Mine (1985, dir. Steven Hilliard Stern)

A struggling ex-soldier holds Central Park hostage to gain attention for veterans’ issues. Odd mix of post-First Blood action and issues-based drama, this talky oddball siege flick has a lot going for it, even if it feels compromised in its execution.

Here’s the trailer.

Da 5 Bloods (2020, dir. Spike Lee)

Four black Vietnam veterans return to find their fallen comrade, and to retrieve a cache of gold. Smart, incendiary mix of military action and state of the nation drama. Playful and serious in equal measure, and cine-literate as hell. Oh, and the Best Actor Oscar? The statuette’s got Delroy Lindo’s name on it already.

Here’s the trailer.

Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem [AKA AVPR: Aliens vs Predator 2 – Requiem] (2007, dir. The Brothers Strause)

A Predator attempts to clear an alien infestation of a Colorado town. Banal direct sequel to Alien vs. Predator, oddly combining high-school slasher tropes with full-on monster mayhem. Dumb, visually murky and nigh plotless, though a couple of transgressive ideas lurk. A franchise low.

Here’s the trailer.

The Kill Team (2019, dir. Dan Krauss)

A US soldier in Afghanistan is pressurised by a new sergeant into complicity in the murder of Afghan civilians. Developed from writer/director Krauss’s own documentary of the same name, this is a low-key but effective study of morals v camaraderie. No real surprises, but solid nevertheless.

Phantom (2013, dir. Todd Robinson)

A veteran Soviet submarine commander is sent on a final classified mission to test new technology. Okay Cold War flick that does nothing new, but which revels in the subgenre (!) to pleasing one-ping-only effect. Makes maximum use of an old Russian vessel for its principal location.

The Wolf’s Call (2019, dir. Antonin Baudry)

A French sonar expert is pivotal in an international submarine warfare scenario. Solid French technothriller of the Tom Clancy sort, with something to say about camaraderie and the limits of the rules of engagement. Delivers as a genre piece, too, with a couple of gleeful daft moments and plenty of shouting in confined spaces.

Midway (2019, dir. Roland Emmerich)

Six months after the Pearl Harbour attack, the Japanese and US navies battle in the Pacific. Clunkily-scripted military action-drama that doesn’t have quite the effects budget needed to pull off its ambitious visual ideas. Poor lighting of greenscreen work doesn’t help. A decent cast of hunks and character actors do what they can.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker [AKA Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker] (2019, dir. JJ Abrams)

Forces align for a last battle between the resistance fighters and the Empire to prevent a Palpatine victory. Patchy finale to the nine-film arc which, despite stirring stuff, plus effective comic moments and detail, fails to convince in its lack of climactic story and its course-correction rewriting of the previous movie. A shame, as the new crew have earned some affection.

Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981, dir. Steven Spielberg)

An American archaeologist races the Nazis to locate a fabled Biblical artefact. Still-dazzling homage to adventure serials, cleverly balancing thrills, comedy, action, horror, romance and a love of the movies. Made with skill and passion, with all involved at the top of their respective games. Recommended. Sequels followed.