“1700 years to build. 5500 miles long. What were they trying to keep out?”
Directed by Zhang Yimou Starring Matt Damon, Jing Tian, Pedro Pascal, Willem Dafoe, Andy Lau
In the 11th century, a band of mercenaries including the English (Irish? I’m not sure what he’s going for) William (Damon) and the Spanish (they keep referring to Spain, despite being some centuries before the formation of said Kingdom) Tovar (Pascal), is whittled down by bandits and finally all but the last two are killed by a beast which William kills, cutting off its clawed and scaled arm. Fleeing bandit reinforcements, the pair are suddenly faced with the Great Wall and its defenders, the Nameless Order, who ponder the possibility of killing them until they learn that he slew a ‘Tao Tei’ single handed.
Directed by Chris McKay Starring Will Arnett, Zach Galifianakis, Michael Cera, Rosario Dawson, Ralph Fiennes
In crime-ridden Gotham City, the Joker (Galifianakis) launches a devastating attack in concert with a vast assortment of other villains, only to be soundly (and rhythmically) defeated by Batman (Arnett). When Batman declines to acknowledge his greatest foe (because he doesn’t do ‘ships,) however, Joker concocts a plan of breathtaking audacity to take his nemesis down a peg or two.
Directed by Ron Hulme Starring Jalal Merhi, Bolo Yeung, Monika Schnarre, Jamie Farr, Lazar Rockwood
Lyle (Merhi), a nice Lebanese-Canadian thirty-year-old grad student, falls into depression when his brother is murdered by drug dealers (or dies of an overdose; I wasn’t clear.) He drops his job at the family firm and postpones his wedding, angering his father (Farr) and fiancee (Schnarre), and goes to Hong Kong to study martial arts and earn the red sash of a master of arty martialness.
“Open your mind. Change your reality” or “Question reality. Change your destiny” or “The impossibilities are endless.”
Directed by Scott Derrickson Starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams, Tilda Swinton and Mads Mikkelson
Dr Stephen Strange (Cumberbatch) is a brilliant, but arrogant, neurosurgeon, pioneering new techniques while telling War Machine to take his entirely pedestrian spino-cranial injuries elsewhere. Then he gets into a car crash because he’s using his phone while driving at high speed in the rain – we get it already, he’s reckless – and loses most of the use of his hands.
Directed by Sam Firstenberger Starring Michael Dudikoff, Steve James, Larry Poindexter, Gary Conway and some women
When the Marines guarding the US Embassy on a small, Caribbean island start disappearing, Washington dispatches Ranger Sergeants Joe Armstrong (Dudikoff) and Curtis Jackson (James) to investigate. Cue Army vs. Marines shenanigans of an extremely low grade. This step seems prescient, when an ambush on an R&R party is launched by ninja.
“The deadliest art of the Orient is now in the hands of an American.”
Directed by Sam Firstenberg Starring Michael Dudikoff, Steve James and Judie Aronson
In the Philippines, surly amnesiac former delinquent loner Joe (Dudikoff) is serving as a private in the US Army. He leads an attempt to fight off hijackers attempting to steal army gear and kidnap the Colonel’s daughter, Patricia (Aronson), but when ninjas appear and massacre the rest of the convoy, the Sergeant blames Joe.
“The average person uses 10% of their brain capacity. Imagine what she could do with 100%.”
Directed by Luc Besson Starring Scarlett Johansson, Morgan Freeman, Choi Min-sik, Amr Waked
Lucy (Johansson), an American student in Taipei, falls foul of her loser boyfriend’s murderous contacts in the Korean mob and finds herself forced to act as a drug mule by Mr Jang (Min-sik). A packet of experimental nootropic drugs is sewn into her abdomen and ruptured when a particularly stupid mob soldier decides that hitting on the mule and then kicking her repeatedly in the stomach is a good plan. Seriously, for an all-powerful drug lord, Jang needs better help.
Directed by Travis Knight Starring Charlize Theron, Art Parkinson, Ralph Fiennes, Rooney Mara, George Takei, Matthew McConaughey and Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa
Kubo (Parkinson) lives with his mother in a cliff overlooking the sea, using his mystical power over paper to tell stories without endings to the local villagers (including Takei and Tagawa) for an income to support himself and his ailing mother. When his desire for some contact with his late father leads him to stay out late, he draws the attention of his maternal grandfather, the vengeful Moon King (Fiennes), who sends his twin daughters (Mara) to capture Kubo.
Directed by Paul Greengrass Starring Matt Damon, Alicia Vikander, Tommy Lee Jones, Vincent Cassel, Julia Stiles and Riz Ahmed
Based – really loosely – on a novel by Robert Ludlum, 2002’s The Bourne Identity kinda sorta changed the nature of the espionage action movie… I won’t say completely and forever, but substantially and in ways that are still felt today. It brought a harder edge to action with its brutal fight scenes and jarringly intimate, naturalistic camerawork. The franchise made star Matt Damon into a megastar as Jason Bourne, an amnesiac assassin turned into the perfect weapon by a CIA program called Treadstone. It was followed by the increasingly loose adaptations The Bourne Supremacy (2004) and The Bourne Ultimatum (2007) and then in 2012 by The Bourne Legacy, with Jeremy Renner’s Aaron Cross replacing Matt Damon’s Jason Bourne in what was intended to be the start of a new chapter in the series. After the lacklustre box office and critical response of Legacy, the series returned to type, lead and director with 2016’s Jason Bourne.
The Late Sequel
Series veteran Nicky Parsons (Stiles), hacks a CIA black ops database for information on its ongoing program of superspies and other shenanigans. With cyber-ops supremo Heather Lee (Vikander) on her trail, Parsons contacts Bourne to arrange a meet in Athens during a riot.
Directed by Michael Winner Starring Charles Bronson, Jan-Michael Vincent and Keenan Wynn
Meticulous hitman Arthur Bishop (Bronson) tries to intercede with the organisation on behalf of his mentor Big Harry (Wynn), but instead finds himself tasked with Harry’s assassination. From a mixture of loneliness and guilt, he takes Harry’s son Steve (Vincent) under his wing and begins to train the reckless boy as a ‘mechanic’.