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.

The Contractor (2022, dir. Tarek Saleh)

A discharged veteran with money problems reluctantly takes on a private contracting job. Terse thriller with action elements: the cast’s good, the action is handled in a no-nonsense manner, and there’s a pleasing downbeat tone. No surprises, but a decent programmer with subtext about post-military lives.

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.

Dune: Chapter One (2021, dir. Denis Villeneuve)

A desert planet with a fabled resource is given new custodians: a messiah figure may be among them. Impressive if slightly po-faced partial adaptation (Part Two is to come) of the Frank Herbert allegorical SF classic. Takes its time: the pacing is televisual rather than cinematic. However, it looks great, and a good cast plays to their strengths.

Here’s the trailer. And here’s another view.

Old Henry (2021, dir. Potsy Ponciroli)

1906. A farmer finds a wounded man and takes him in, hiding him from the team that’s hunting him. Excellent early 20th century Western, which manages to do a lot with modest resources and clear intent. Plenty to appreciate, not least Tim Blake Nelson in the lead.

Here’s the trailer.

Resident Evil [AKA Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City] (2021, dir. Johannes Roberts)

A young woman returns to her hometown: a zombie-like outbreak occurs. This 90s-set series reboot draws from the franchise’s early video games. And that’s about it. A murky and confused action/horror flick with little clear idea about what to do with the property, or why bother.

Here’s the trailer.

Blacklight (2022, dir. Mark Williams)

A veteran FBI agent becomes embroiled in a conspiracy involving the murder of a politician. Straightforward thriller with a couple of minor plot wrinkles and some decent lo-fi action and stuntwork. No game-changer, but works well enough within its self-imposed limitations.

Here’s the trailer.

The King’s Man (2021, dir. Matthew Vaughn)

The origins of an independent spy agency, set against the Great War. Messy and inconsistent prequel, showcasing series strengths (brio, some startling moments) and weaknesses (tonal awkwardness) in equal measure. A freewheeling approach to both history and emotion throughout render this flashy, but empty.

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

Dangerous [AKA Wake] (2021, dir. David Hackl)

An ex-con sociopath attending his brother’s wake defends a remote island from attackers. Messy action thriller with black comedy elements. It doesn’t hang together, but there’s neat moments throughout, plus a strong if mismatched cast each in their own movie.

Here’s the trailer.