The 355 (2022, dir. Simon Kinberg)

Five operatives – each female – team up to retrieve a codebreaking device. Uninspired globetrotting spy thriller with a good cast (including Dear Old Jason Flemyng on Brit villain duties) largely wasted. A tickbox script, flaccid direction, and flat action design give producer Chastain and colleagues little to sell. Meh, unfortunately.

Here’s the trailer.

Texas Killing Fields (2011, dir. Amy Canaan Mann)

Detectives struggle with a series of murders. Based very loosely on real-world unsolved crimes, this noir-ish thriller can’t decide whether to go for procedural or for obsessive cop angst. It tries both, and so doesn’t gel. Decent performances from an up-and-coming cast and an OK look make this a not-uninteresting curio though.

Here’s the trailer.

Ava (2020, dir. Tate Taylor)

A troubled assassin returns to her home city, but complications arise. Neither full-on action thriller or character-led drama, Ava works best simply as a star vehicle for its producer Chastain. A decent if typecast set of supporting players helps, but there’s little fresh brought to the table here.

Here’s the trailer.

Dark Phoenix [AKA X-Men: Dark Phoenix] (2019, dir. Simon Kinberg)

1992: the orphaned young Jean Grey is exposed to an interstellar flare; her energies grow exponentially. Okay-but-formulaic last X-film, suffering in part because of the plot already being used by the film series before. Better than its predecessor Apocalypse, but this is for series completists only, despite solid work from those still under contract.

The Martian (2015, dir. Ridley Scott)

An astronaut is marooned alone on Mars; he develops a plan to survive. Smart, funny and upbeat space peril movie with winning ensemble performances, clean visuals, and a diligent script from the Andy Weir bestseller. A thoroughly professional and entertaining job all round.

It: Chapter Two (2019, dir. Andy Muschetti)

The now-adult Losers’ Club return to Derry to face Pennywise again 27 years later. Oddly baggy second half; the adults don’t get enough attention, and the resolution still doesn’t work. Pennywise turns out to be a lot less scary when facing down grownups. Gives the impression there’s a better miniseries-length edit of the movies somewhere.

Mama (2013, dir. Andy Muschietti)

Two girls, feared lost for five years, are found feral in an isolated cabin. Generally effective jumpscare horror, impressive in its first acts, though increasingly awkward in plot event terms and tone as the melodrama develops. Some very neat moments, though.

Zero Dark Thirty (2012, dir. Kathryn Bigelow)

A dramatisation of the hunt for and killing of Osama Bin Laden. Sober and focused, with an eye for detail and on the selling of its version of events as truth through the use of faux documentary techniques, this works as an intelligent thriller throughout.

Miss Sloane (2016, dir. John Madden)

A ruthless Washington lobbyist goes against the pro-gun lobby. Initially intriguing though ultimately glib dramatic thriller with good performances and a sense of seriousness undone by an unbelievable third act.

Molly’s Game (2017, dir. Aaron Sorkin)

The true story of Molly Bloom, who ran high-stakes poker games in New York and LA. Excellent drama, balanced by a fine central performance and swaggering writing, chronicling a perhaps typical rise and fall-style story, but done with class and confidence.

Alternative view here