The Sugarland Express (1974, dir. Steven Spielberg)

A wife helps her husband escape jail: a chase and media circus develops as they cross Texas to be reunited with their child. Excellent road movie/crime drama hybrid with comic and bittersweet touches, and full of directorial promise. Loads to recommend here.

Here’s the trailer:

Death On The Nile (2022, dir. Kenneth Branagh)

Hercule Poirot joins a wedding party in Egypt: murder follows. This second Branagh Agatha Christie adaptation suffers like its predecessor from plasticky production values, over-direction, and a too-serious approach to the material. It livens up eventually, but the Ustinov version is still way more fun.

Here’s the trailer:

Castle Falls (2021, dir. Dolph Lundgren)

A failed MMA fighter, a desperate cop, and drug dealers converge on a building set for demolition where’s there’s cash stashed. It takes ages to get going, but there’s enough lo-fi action in the last 40 minutes to keep Adkins fans happy. The premise isn’t maximised, but there’s a sense of blue-collar necessity driving matters.

Here’s the trailer.

Copshop (2021, dir. Joe Carnahan)

A rookie cop gets caught between a hitman and a conman in a locked-down police station. Fun little action thriller that doesn’t focus enough to be a minor classic, even if there’s some badassery and two great performances. Almost there, but not quite.

Here’s the trailer.

Carry On Matron (1972, dir. Gerald Thomas)

Thieves try to steal contraceptive pills from a maternity hospital. Fourth and last of the medical-themed Carry On flicks, this is a very straightforward farce with every pregnancy gag in the book ticked off, and with crossdressing opportunities cheerfully embraced.

Here’s the trailer.

Ida Red (2021, dir. John Swab)

Tulsa-based criminals work to raise the money to get a matriarch out of prison before she dies. Not-bad 2010-set noir drama with action elements. Does plenty of things seen elsewhere (from Heat to Hell or High Water) but has its own decent vibe, a fine cast of character actors, and some quirky moments. Swab remains a talent to keep an eye on.

Here’s the trailer.

Don’t Tell A Soul (2020, dir. Alex McAulay)

Troubled brothers fleeing a robbery accidentally trap a security guard. Lean, effective thriller with a keen sense of autumn and of blue-collar lives. Works effectively in focusing on the implications of its set-up, and on impacts on its well-sketched characters. A fun, impressive little movie.

Here’s the trailer.

The Many Saints of Newark (2021, dir. Alan Taylor)

A late 60s/early 70s New Jersey teenager is raised in a mob-affiliated household and neighbourhood. This The Sopranos prequel works as a both an insight into the earlier lives of that series’ main characters, and as a stand-alone movie. Tony Soprano very much a supporting character here: the focus is on his uncle Dickie, played by a never-better Alessandro Nivola.

Here’s the trailer.

The Vault [AKA Way Down] (2021, dir. Jaume Balaguero)

A young engineer is recruited to help steal a priceless artefact from an impregnable bank. Slick, good-looking and well-directed but very straightforward heist flick. A decent cast of character actors help, but there’s the sense of an opportunity missed here.

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.