Tag Archive: action movies


Chalk up another win for director Michael Bay and another Jake Gyllenhaal that doesn’t steer us wrong.  It’s the new action blockbuster Ambulance, which arrived in theaters last month, and is now streaming on Peacock.  Part revved-up first responder celebration in the vein of Backdraft, part heist in the lane of the original Taking of Pelham One Two Three, and part ticking clock race to the end like Unstoppable, it will keep you hanging on for two hours.  A certain artistry of its own is required to get this genre just right, and Bay’s pacing, kinetic sense, and thrilling use of camera angles should have you comparing this to your favorite race and chase movies.  It doesn’t have the humor of The Blues Brothers, the grit of The French Connection, or the sci-fi of Terminator 2, but it has a compelling two-hour chase through Los Angeles that’s worth your time.

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Has Jake Gyllenhaal ever steered us wrong?  Whether it’s as a confused teenager in Donnie Darko, a cartoonist-turned-detective in Zodiac, a stuck-out-of-time soldier in Source Code, or a scheming villain in Spider-Man: Far from Home, Gyllenhaal delivers good performances in exciting movies.  With ten other movies in the works, this week he stars in director Michael Bay’s next explosion-filled, wall-to-wall action picture, AmbulanceAnd what a title.  That’s up there with Skyscraper, Contagion, Earthquake, Towering Inferno, and Airport.  Except it’s a heist movie, so closer in concept to The Bank Job and The Italian Job, with a twist of Denzel Washington’s John Q. 

Take a look at the movie trailer below for Ambulance

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Jungle-Cruise-Movie-Trailer-Dwayne-Johnson-Emily-Blunt

Review by C.J. Bunce

Some movies are exactly as advertised.  Count Jungle Cruise in that category.  And yet–it’s bigger and bolder and braver than you might have guessed from its trailers.  Comparisons to the likes of Raiders of the Lost Ark, Pirates of the Caribbean, Romancing the Stone, and African Queen are all completely warranted.  Jungle Cruise is a big, sweeping adventure–and visual amusement park ride–that draws out the best of stars Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt.  First previewed in autumn 2019, it’s another pandemic delay that has the scope and spectacle that would have made it the perfect box office hit in a normal year.  But at least now audiences can see what they’ve been missing as Jungle Cruise arrived this past weekend on the Disney Plus streaming service.

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Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins

Review by C.J. Bunce

Both The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and The Mummy were good reboots of franchises, one of a 1960s television series, the other intended to bring forward the Universal Studios Monsters for another generation, but the lack of attention by audiences brought the franchises to a standstill.  Snake Eyes–G.I. Joe Origins, which premiered in theaters in July after a 16 month pandemic delay, is another good re-start of a franchise, and hopefully nothing stands in the way of Hasbro moving ahead with the planned G.I. Joe–Ever Vigilant, originally slated for a 2020 release.

Especially if you’re a fan of the comics and animated series versions of G.I. Joe, you won’t want to miss the home release of Snake Eyes–G.I. Joe OriginsIt’s a solid film, faithfully explaining–as the titles states–the origin of G.I. Joe ace operative Snake Eyes.  If you know the helmeted, silent ninja from the comics or animated show, you also know he is inextricably linked to that COBRA ninja in white garb, Storm Shadow; audiences will get the story of why each of these sworn brothers finds his way to opposing sides in the ongoing battle of good guys vs. bad guys.  You won’t see any “kung fu grip,” although the Japanese martial arts choreographed fight scenes are well done, if toned down from more serious martial arts films.  You also won’t yet learn why Snake Eyes goes silent–much is left for one or more sequels.  But everyone does have “life-like hair.”  And it may just leave you shouting, “Yo, Joe!”  (That’s a good thing). Continue reading

Anna movie pic

Review by C.J. Bunce

Luc Besson, master of the spy movie and the female assassin, created perhaps his best work in the genre with his 2019 action thriller Anna Poor distribution and studio problems caused the film to get only a minor theatrical release, but it’s at last widely available, streaming to anyone free on iMDB TV.  If you’re like most movie fans and missed it, you’re in for a surprise that rivals many similar action thrillers by one of the greatest writer-directors of our time, including his 1990 film Le Femme Nikita with Anne Parillaud (and its English remake, Point of No Return with Bridget Fonda), and the 1994 movie The Professional (Natalie Portman, Jean Reno).  Besson also wrote the screenplays for The Transporter starring Jason Statham (2002), Taken starring Liam Neeson (2008), and Colombiana starring Zoe Saldana (2011).  So he knows action, and that’s several assassins, spies, and action sequences in Besson’s personal dossier in additional to his greatest feats, the epic science fiction films The Fifth Element and Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets It’s that last film he tapped for the star of Anna, a spy movie that’s not a retread on the director’s past work but a superb achievement, with a badass lead and story even better than another spy favorite, Atomic Blonde. 

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Moviegoers either love or hate Zack Snyder movies.  His latest, Netflix’s Army of the Dead (reviewed here), is very different from the typical movie he directs, which includes 300, Watchmen, Sucker Punch, Man of Steel, Batman v Superman, and Justice League.   Despite taking on a heist movie and a zombie picture in a major action movie, he wrote, directed, and took over the camera for Army of the Dead.  The result was a mash-up that may appeal to regular Snyder fans or anyone else.  This month to accompany the film, Titan Books released Army of the Dead: The Making of the Film If you liked the movie, and especially if you’re a fan of the horror genre and zombie films, you will want to check it out.

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Infinite movie

If you secretly wished the winner of the top spy contest in Kingsman: The Secret Service was Eggsy’s friend Roxy, you’ll get to see what that might have looked like in the new Mark Wahlberg supernatural thriller Infinite.  The Kingsman’s Sophie Cookson, Chiwetel Ejiofor (Doctor Strange, The Old Guard), Rupert Friend (Obi-Wan Kenobi), and the prolific Toby Jones (Captain America: The First Avenger, The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance, Doctor Who, Snow White and The Huntsman, The Hunger Games) join the typically wise-cracking Bostonian Wahlberg in a different kind of search to uncover secrets.  Tapping into the supernatural time travel trope, with hints of Assassin’s Creed and the secret spy league of The Adjustment Bureau, Infinite finds Wahlberg as a man with hallucinations that are actually a window into his past lives (a la reincarnation–remember Albert Brooks’ “past lives pavilion”?).  Antoine Fuqua steps in to direct, hopefully conjuring some of that high-octane action he brought to the screen in his The Magnificent Seven remake, The Equalizer and The Equalizer 2, and Shooter.

Sophie Cookson

First previewed here at borg in 2019, here’s the trailer for Infinite: Continue reading

ARMY OF THE DEAD

Review by C.J. Bunce

Zack Snyder finally did it.  Despite taking on a heist movie and a zombie picture in a major action movie, he wrote a script and delivered the type of action blockbuster he has not yet been able to create.  Army of the Dead is his first movie to get it right, a load of tropes, a mash-up of genre ideas, a tightly written story with a great cast, and wall-to-wall fun.  Not a comedy like Shaun of the Dead or iZombie, Army of the Dead features the right amount of humor for this story, while incorporating all the expectations of any fan of the father of the genre, George A. Romero.  Rivaling the incredible action and effects in 6 Underground, it also rises to become one of Netflix’s most promising productions.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Many movies showcase gangland violence in the action genre, but very few in the way of writer-director Timo Tjahjanto.  His 2018 blood and guts masterpiece The Night Comes for Us is the kind of movie for audiences looking for the satisfaction you get from a big rollercoaster, the kind they provided in action films in the 1970s and 1980s starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Chuck Norris, and Bruce Lee.  It’s so heavy on violence you might get the feeling someone found a spare makeup department with extra buckets of fake blood in between horror movie projects.  Yet among the visual spectacle (you may duck a few times in your living room not to get splattered) Tjahjanto knows how to build a story and characters into one heckuva fun payoff.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool) and director Michael Bay (Transformers, Armageddon) are going to surprise a lot of people this December.  Their new film, a direct-to-Netflix, big-budget action spectacle called 6 Underground, is the kind of movie that belongs on the big screen leading the box office rankings.  It has big, over-the-top, expensive action sequences that leave last year’s seemingly impossible to beat Mission: Impossible–Fallout, in its wake.  It also stuffs about two movies into one: giving the audience a slight breather between action sequences, its edits are sharp and quick, so much so it offers one of those strobe warnings upfront, with an amazing new weapon we haven’t yet seen anywhere that it keeps for its third act.  If you loved the team of crooks in Baby Driver, the good guys seeking revenge of The Italian Job, and the speed of The Fate of the Furious, get ready for the next watchalike.  It’s Leverage on steroids.  It’s the best direct-to-Netflix movie yet–and a whole lotta fun.

Reynolds is a billionaire genius fed up with not being able to do good with his money by following the rules.  He fakes his death and recruits and tries to maintain an international band of six “ghosts” who have complementary mad skills and are willing to leave their lives (including names) behind to change the world.  This includes an incredible driver played by Dave Franco (Now You See Me), a badass ex-CIA spook played by French actress Mélanie Laurent (Inglourious Basterds), a hitman played by Mexican actor Manuel Garcia-Rulfo (The Magnificent Seven), a doctor played by Puerto Rican actress Adria Arjona (True Detective), and a parkour whiz played by Brit actor Ben Hardy (Bohemian Rhapsody, X-Men: Apocalypse).  When one of the team dies in a messy job, Reynolds’ character, known only as One, recruits an ex-marine sharpshooter played by Corey Hawkins.  And the movie gets bigger and better.

Although the opening 20-minute action scene will be talked about for years, it’s Hawkins arriving new to the team as Seven where the story takes off.  He was willing to leave the military service behind because he was held back–he tried to save his fellow soldiers in an attack but was ordered not to–but with this new team he finally has the freedom to do all he can for the greater good, all under his own terms.  Reynolds as Reynolds–the same snarky, smartass character he played in Deadpool and Life and R.I.P.D. and Green Lantern is here, and he makes it work yet again, thanks to funny banter and a team of actors and characters with chemistry.  He carries the leading action man role that would normally be taken by Jason Statham and twists it a bit, not doing all those kicks and physical feats, but getting in the middle of the action and staying there with all the other stunt-heavy moves going on around him (not that he doesn’t get to play in the punches, too).  If that weren’t enough, 6 Underground also has amazing international settings and gorgeous, James Bond universe-type cinematography thanks to photography by Bojan Bazelli (The Ring, The Sorceror’s Apprentice, Snake Eyes).

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