Shorta (2021, dir. Frederik Louis Hviid & Anders Olholm)

Two officers – one trusted, one implicated in police violence – are caught up in a riot situation and cut off from support. This Danish drama mashes up the behind-enemy-lines likes of ’71 with a David Ayer-ish cop neo-noir. Somewhat schematic in its storytelling, but undeniably confident, and at least attempting – not always wholly successfully – to mix action with social commentary.

Here’s the trailer.

Black Widow (2021, dir. Cate Shortland)

Natasha Romanoff reunites with her estranged fake family to disrupt a post-Soviet Russian agent programme. Patchy Marvel SF/spy adventure (the first Phase 4 movie) awkwardly balancing dysfunctional familial bickering and action set-pieces. A strong cast helps, as does a relatively low-stakes approach and some attempts at character.

Here’s the trailer.

Infinite (2021, dir. Antoine Fuqua)

A man with mental health issues finds that he is the current incarnation of an immortal, and that a war wages for Earth’s survival. Clumsy and often incoherent Highlander / The Matrix / The Old Guard wannabe for lovers of the later Fast and the Furious movies. No-one comes out of this with much dignity. Not great at all.

Here’s the trailer.

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.

No Time to Die (2021, dir. Cary Joji Fukunaga)

A retired Bond combats the threat of a stolen bioweapon. Last of the Craig-era pics, this is the Avengers: Endgame of Bond flicks, rounding out a loose five-film arc. Less successful as a stand-alone movie, but it tries something different, Craig and a guesting Ana de Armas are both great, and there’s neat moments aplenty among the bombast and soapy stuff.

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.

Those Who Wish Me Dead (2021, dir. Taylor Sheridan)

A compromised smoke jumper finds herself protecting a boy against a pair of hired assassins. Competent if plasticky thriller with action elements. Strong casting and some badassery helps, but the thin story and a reliance on iffy CG and greenscreen for production value are hindrances.

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.

The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires (1974, dir. Roy Ward Baker [and Chang Cheh])

In 1904 China, a visiting Van Helsing helps combat a Dracula-led vampiric uprising. The last pic of the Hammer cycle innovates through genre mash-up (and a deal with Shaw Brothers). It’s messy, but fun: martial arts showcasing, twists on undead lore, plus some location spectacle all helps.

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.