Free Guy (2021, dir. Shawn Levy)

A man living an idealistic life finds out that he’s a non-playing character in a video game. Generally sprightly action comedy that mashes up The Truman Show and They Live to pleasing if disposable effect. No huge surprises, though there’s a few neat gags and further evidence supplied that Taika Waititi is many things but not an actor.

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.

Boss Level (2021, dir. Joe Carnahan)

An ex-soldier caught in a time loop fights to save his wife and child. Slightly wobbly Groundhog Day / Source Code variant, heavy on slapstick kills. Tonally all over the shop, which is a shame. Frank Grillo is as good value as ever, though, and there’s a strong supporting cast, plus some decent action choreography late on.

Here’s Lemonsquirtle’s take.

And here’s the trailer.

Jolt (2021, dir. Tanya Wexler)

A woman who controls her extreme anger issues via a high-tech electrical device investigates a murder. Poor sub-Crank action-comedy: a decent cast helps (several in one-set cameos), but (some OK) quips, poor action, over-direction, the world’s most guessable villain, and stagey visuals don’t. Feels like a TV pilot: has that Nu Boyana aesthetic.

Here’s the trailer.

Guns Akimbo (2019, dir. Jason Lei Howden)

A loser programmer find himself in a real-world socially-mediated assassination video game. Frenetic but patchy slapstick action-comedy. Little sense of tone, stakes, internal logic or of pacing, so the energy is misplaced and the excellent cast work against the movie, not with it. Gamer meets Shoot Em Up-ish, though much less ultimately than either.

Here’s the trailer.

Nobody (2021, dir. Ilya Naishuller)

A browbeaten family man with a past comes up against Russian mobsters. Okay action comedy with slapstick brutality galore. A fine cast, some invention in the detail, and a couple of neat directorial moments help, though there’s a heavy-handed approach to pop scoring and to the fantasy world of the movie.

Here’s the trailer.

Tag (2018, dir. Jeff Tomsic)

Five school friends have been playing the same game of tag for 30 years. Based on a true story, this is a solid action-comedy with a couple of moments of dark genius. The denouement is emotionally-manipulated, but by then the flick’s earned enough goodwill to let matters slide. Unexpectedly good, and thus a recommendation.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle (2017, dir. Matthew Vaughn)

Kingsmen join with their American equivalent to battle a virus-wielding drug lord. Gleeful but over-stuffed, overlong and indulgent sequel, magnifying the first film‘s good points and its issues. Some fun to be had, tho, and Mark Strong gets a crowning moment of awesome.