Reminiscence (2021, dir. Lisa Joy)

A memory technician becomes obsessed with a nightclub singer. Somewhat laboured SF noir, indebted to Blade Runner, Chinatown, and – er – Who Framed Roger Rabbit, saddled with po-faced script and narration. Some visual stuff works (there’s one genuine moment of wonder) but the central mystery and its importance is bungled.

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.

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.

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.

The Yakuza (1974, dir. Sydney Pollack)

A former detective returns to Japan from the US: an old friend’s daughter under threat. Neither quite a neo-noir, an action thriller or a study of overseas crime syndicates, The Yakuza tries to be all three with variable results. Slow, but interesting, with flashes of a darker, better, and more violent film lurking.

Here’s the trailer.

Dragged Across Concrete (2018, dir. S. Craig Zahler)

Two suspended detectives needing money plan to hijack the proceeds of a crime. Slow-burn minimalist neo-noir procedural thriller that takes time with its characters, allowing you to understand – if not agree with – their actions. Long, but enthralling, and brutal at times. Recommended.

Wetlands (2017, dir. Emanuele Della Valle)

An ex-addict cop has a chance at redemption. Autumnal neo-noir with a good cast and some fine ideas and moments, but an overly-busy plot and some excesses muddy the waters. Not uninteresting though.

Side Effects (2013, dir. Steven Soderbergh)

A patient involved in a drug trial murders her husband. Woozy neo-noir that comes at you like a mix of 50s paranoid Hitchcock¬†and 60s New Wave. Lots of fine stuff along the way, even if the plotting isn’t as crystal as in Soderbergh’s best work.

Tomboy (AKA Tomboy: A Revenger’s Tale / The Assignment / (Re) Assignment) (2016, dir. Walter Hill)

A hitman is subjected to forced gender reassignment. A messy hotchpotch of bad taste, worse gender politics, and a standard pulpy noir payback yarn. Tomboy is never uninteresting, but not always for the right genre reasons. A future cult beckons.

John Wick (2014, dir. Chad Stahelski & David Leitch)

A retired assassin returns to the fray. A glorious stylised neo-noir action flick with a neat mythology, splendid choreography, crisp direction, some sly humour, and committed performances all round. The 2014 state of the action movie-making art.