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.

The Ice Road (2021, dir. Jonathan Hensleigh)

Trucker brothers transport key equipment over treacherous ice roads to rescue trapped miners. Straightforward thriller with action elements, riffing on Hawksian reality TV and The Wages of Fear. Somewhat perfunctory in plotting and direction, though a decent cast, location shooting, and some character elements add value.

Here’s the trailer.

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014, dir. Peter Jackson)

Thorin is driven mad by gold-lust as warring factions converge on Mt Erebor. The concluding part of the prequel trilogy is pretty much for fans only by this stage, though it’s nevertheless an impressively-mounted and extravagant action fantasy.

Here’s the trailer.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013, dir. Peter Jackson)

Bilbo and Thorin’s company reach Mount Erebor via Laketown. The middle instalment of the prequel trilogy is all the better for not having to worry about set-up, though it lacks a story of its own. Still, if well-heeled fantasy spectacle is your thing, then there’s plenty to enjoy here.

Here’s the trailer.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012, dir. Peter Jackson)

A home-loving halfling is recruited for a perilous quest. Beefed-up partial adaptation of the Tolkien children’s novel so that it acts as the first part of a Lord of the Rings prequel trilogy. The quieter parts work best, though this is an acceptable if somewhat bloated action fantasy in its own right.

Here’s the trailer.

The Outpost (2020, dir. Rod Lurie)

A remote US facility in 2006 Northern Afghanistan is attacked by Taliban forces. Based on true events, this is a generally even-handed attempt to tell a base-under-siege story (from the Jake Tapper book): strong on camaraderie and on the chaos of conflict, using pseudo-documentary elements to add clarity.

Here’s the trailer:

Star Trek Into Darkness (2013, dir. JJ Abrams)

Attacks on Starfleet propel Kirk and crew into a manhunt in Klingon territory. Second of the alt-timeline reboot film series works fine as a pacy SF adventure with plenty of comedy to counterpoint the action, though struggles – as before – with its villainy and a need to over-reference its predecessors. A third movie followed.

Here’s the trailer.

Man of Tai Chi (2013, dir. Keanu Reeves)

A Tai Chi student is lured into an underground fighting circuit. And a very solid martial arts actioner this is too. As old-school as you like, with plenty of well-choreographed fighting and wirework, and a sense of respect for both the subgenre and the traditions it relates to.

Here’s the trailer.