Nigh-unstoppable super-soldier Brixton (Elba) and his magical motorbike interrupt an MI6 mission in the heart of London to try to steal a supervirus, killing all of the agents bar one (Kirby), who escapes after injecting the virus into herself in slowly-dissolving plot-delivery devices, but is framed as the thief. The CIA tap DSS Agent Luke Hobbs (Johnson) and rogue former MI6 operative Deckard Shaw (Statham) to retrieve the virus, and the surviving agent, who is revealed to be Shaw’s sister Hattie.
Directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon Starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Michael Shannon, Katherine Waterston, Tom Holland, Tuppence Middleton, Matthew Macfadyen and Nicholas Hoult
In the latter years of the 19th century, a feud arises as quixotic entrepreneur Thomas Edison (Cumberbatch) and industrial titan George Westinghouse (Shannon) clash over the supply of electric lighting and power. Edison has the superior electric bulbs, Westinghouse’s alternating current can supply power over a longer distance; Westinghouse seeks collaboration, but Edison is determined to retain sole control.
Directed by F. Gary Gray Starring Chris Hemsworth, Tessa Thompson, Rebecca Ferguson, Kumail Nanjiani, Rafe Spall, Laurent Bourgeois, Larry Bourgeois, Emma Thompson and Liam Neeson
Men in Black was a science-fiction action comedy, made on a modest budget, which became a huge sleeper hit in 1997. Pairing Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones as Agents J and K, the newest and oldest field agents for the Men in Black, a secret organisation which polices alien activity on Earth, which is run as a neutral port for galactic refugees and travellers. The combination of Jones’ assured presence and the meteoric rising star of Smith – this was the role, coupled with 1996’s Independence Day, that catapulted him from surprisingly solid rapper and TV actor turned support player to bona fide superstar – with a sharp script and pacy, gonzo plot about a giant cockroach trying to steal the ultimate energy source produced a real standout of nineties SF cinema, and spawned two sequels of… less outstanding quality.
In 2002, Men in Black II spent a chunk of its runtime undoing the ending of the first movie for the sake of the magic pairing of Smith and Jones, and replaces the pathetically terrifying prospect of an impossibly tough and powerful insect in a rotting Vincent d’Onofrio suit with an alien disguised as an underwear model and trows in some unnecessary backstory and a bunch of poop and boob gags for good measure. It… wasn’t good.
It was to be another ten years before 2012’s Men in Black 3 added time travel and fourth-wall breaking to the mix, and threw in some more unnecessary back story as an alien supercriminal tried to pre-murder K. By this point the shine was definitely off, and as good as Smith and Jones are, they really didn’t seem to give a shit anymore.
Calls for another sequel were virtually non-existent, but the franchise had just enough juice left for another run to be considered worthwhile. With Smith and Jones unwilling, unavailable, or just because the response to MIB 3 was so disappointing, the studio opted for a soft reboot that would expand the franchise to an international stage and be called… Men in Black International.
The Soft Reboot
In 1996, Molly Wright meets an alien, and sees her parents neuralised by the MIB. Twenty years later, Agents H (Hemsworth) and High T (Neeson) face an attempted invasion by an alien force called the Hive at the gateway to (Tomorrowland) at the top of the Eiffel Tower. Three years after that, Molly (Thompson), having failed to get the FBI or the CIA to recruit her to ‘the department that deals with up there,’ finally manages to track down the MIB in New York, where Agent O (other Thompson) recruits her as a probationary agent with the designation ‘M’.
Directed by Paul W.S. Anderson Starring Milla Jovovich, Ali Larter, Shawn Roberts, Ruby Rose, Eoin Macken, William Levy and Iain Glen
Dr James Marcus, a scientist seeking a cure for his daughter’s progeria, creates the T-virus, Umbrella Corporation, and programs his daughter’s personality into the AI known as the Red Queen, before losing control of all he has created to A-list swine Dr Alexander Isaacs (Glen) and his hired goon Albert Wesker (Roberts).
Directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck Starring Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn, Djimon Hounsou, Lee Pace, Lashana Lynch, Gemma Chan, Annette Bening, Clark Gregg and Jude Law
Vers (Larsen) is a wisecracking, amnesiac member of the Kree special forces unit Starforce, serving with CO Yon-Rogg (Law), sniper Minn-Erva (Chan) and heavy Korath (Hounsou) on search and rescue missions for the Supreme Intelligence, an AI that appears to individuals as the person they most admire. When the team falls into an ambush while trying to rescue an undercover agent, Vers is separated from the unit and captured by shapeshifting Skrull commander Talos (Mendelsohn), whose interrogation machine uncovers memories of a scientist named Lawson (Bening) on the planet Earth.
Directed by Christian Rivers Starring Hugo Weaving, Hera Hilmar, Robert Sheehan, Jihae, Ronan Raftery, Leila George, Patrick Malahide and Stephen Lang
In the wake of the ‘Sixty-Minute War’ and the resulting tectonic devastation, Europe and northern Asia are the domain of the predator cities, mobile metropolises which hunts and consume smaller communities for fuel and supplies. As London enters the great hunting grounds, a young historian named Tom (Sheehan) thwarts an assassination attempt against rock star archaeologist Thaddeus Valentine (Weaving), only for Valentine to boot him out of the city along with the assassin, Hester Shaw (Hilmar) for hearing too much.
Directed by Crispian Mills Starring Asa Butterfield, Finn Cole, Hermione Corfield, Michael Sheen, Nick Frost and Simon Pegg
Troubled lad Don (Cole) is sent by his doting mother to the prestigious boarding school Slaughterhouse, an institution with a worse standard of pastoral care than Hogwarts. Rooming with the darkly eccentric Blake (Butterfield), he soon encounters Clemsie Lawrence (Corfield), angel of the upper sixth, and runs afoul of House God Clegg (Rhys-Harris), a sort of paramilitary Draco Malfoy, while stealth-dumped House Master Meredith Houseman (Pegg) has a breakdown and Headmaster ‘the Bat’ (Sheen) maintains the status quo while selling fracking rights in the school’s historic woodlands.
Directed by Shane Black Starring Boyd Holbrook, Trevante Rhodes, Jacob Tremblay, Keegan-Michael Key, Olivia Munn, Thomas Jane, Alfie Allen, Sterling K. Brown and Yvonne Strahovsky
In 1987’s Predator, an alien hunter comes to Earth and stalks an elite US military rescue team led by Major Dutch Schaeffer (Arnold Schwarzenegger, at the height of his powers.) As in the previous year’s Aliens, it opened with all the trappings of a war movie – muscular action heroes of the 80s breed, mowing down hundreds of nameless enemies without regard to cover or return fire – and then throws these characters up against an unearthly foe that they are utterly unprepared to face. Both embracing and puncturing the machismo of the period, it is rightly remembered as a classic, and was followed by a sequel in 1990 which wasn’t half bad, and did the same thing with a violent action cop movie as Predator did with jungle warfare.
There followed a twenty year gap – I don’t count the Alien vs. Predator movies, because they were a pile of crap, and they didn’t show up until 14 and 17 years after Predator 2 anyway – before Predators in 2010, which pitted a group of abducted hardcases against a trio of bigger, better, faster, more Xtreme Predators on a planet which served as a game run. Predators was produced by Robert Rodriguez, who had plans for further sequels, but they never materialised.
Fast forward eight more years…
The Late Sequel
When a fugitive Predator (Brian A. Prince) crash lands in South America, US sniper Quinn McKenna (Holbrook) loses his unit. Fearing that he will be swept under the rug by the government, McKenna mails the Predator’s mask and wrist computer to a PO box and swallows a cloaking device, only for these to fall into the hands of his son Rory (Tremblay) when the PO box is closed and the package delivered to Rory and his mother, Emily (Strahovsky).
Directed by Steven Gomez Starring Thure Lindhardt, Vanessa Kirby and David Ajala
In the not-too-distant future, a US military team led by Captain Bukes (Lindhardt) and his trusty sergeant Drifter (Ajala) is assigned to a routine training exercise on an island run by the Harbinger corporation, its purpose being to train Harbingers’ AI-controlled drone combatants, intended to replace human soldiers entirely. They are accompanied by corporate cyborg observer Mills (Kirby) on this Totally Routine Exercise(TM).
Directed by J.A. Bayona Starring Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Rafe Spall, Justice Smith, Daniella Pineda, James Cromwell, Toby Jones, Ted Levine, B. D. Wong, Isabella Sermon, Geraldine Chaplin, Jeff Goldblum
Years after the collapse of Jurassic World, and with Isla Nubla having reverted to active volcano status, debates rage over whether the dinosaurs are deserving of legal protection, with Dr Ian Malcolm (Goldblum) taking the position that nope, fuck those guys. Claire Dearing (Howard) leads a campaign to protect the dinosaurs, and is tapped by John Hammond’s silent partner Sir Benjamin Lockwood (Cromwell) to take her staffers Franklin (Smith) and Zia (Pineda) back to the island, along with Owen Grady (Pratt) to save at least eleven species of dinosaurs and bring them to a new sanctuary.