We’re at the halfway stage of 2017 and in the land of film that means only one thing – our first-half report on what films have impressed us most throughout the first six months. Our full Top 10 is available here but what about those that didn’t make the list but are still worthy of hunting down – first up, here’s our list of some of the very best action films (in alphabetical order), as well as some of our most anticipated for the rest of the year…
One of the later entries into the “half-term” report, Edgar Wright’s rollicking action-thriller has delighted audiences on both sides of the pond in the last weeks of June (opening to around $30million in the US). Precise in its execution, look and feel (with a stunning soundtrack), it’s been a breath of fresh air in a summer full of stale franchises and proves that original, intelligent filmmaking still has a place in amongst the “big guns”.
Similarly to Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver, the latest film from British director Ben Wheatley was also met with much praise for breathing some fresh air into the action genre. Set in Boston in 1978, the film is essentially a 90-minute shootout between two gangs who are after some elusive, and very pricey, weapons but it sizzles with energy and humour while delivering a huge shot of action adrenaline.
John Wick 2
The sequel is dead, long live the cinematic universe. Well, not where John Wick is concerned – a follow-up to a brilliant opening act that not only expands of the mythology and backstory of the character but ups the stakes and action without sacrificing those things that made it so worthwhile in the first place. Keanu Reeves has never been better, and we can only hope that a third part (reportedly concluding a trilogy of films) isn’t too far away.
Hugh Jackman’s farewell as Wolverine was always going to be bittersweet for millions of fans but none of them could have anticipated just how profound it was going to be. Following Deadpool’s footsteps in the “R-rated” arena, Logan was not just brutal and bloody but both resonant and emotional that gave finally gave both the character and Jackman, the film they deserved. Now doing the rounds in its black and white “Noir” version, there’s still much to discover with the cigar-smoking anti-hero.
The savior of the DCEU, Wonder Woman defied the odds and broke the rules to deliver one of the summer’s biggest successes. Breaking away from the dark shackles of Zack Snyder’s aesthetic, director Patty Jenkins and her stars Gal Gadot and Chris Pine beautifully fused humour, comedy, romance, and pathos, as well as some stunning set pieces, to deliver a wonderfully enjoyable blockbuster.
And the action films we can’t wait to see:
Already a hit with critics after its debut at SXSW earlier this year, Atomic Blonde looks set to be one of the sleeper hits of the summer. Described as John Wick meets James Bond with a sumptuous, hypnotic visuals, Charlize Theron stars as an undercover MI6 agent who is sent to Berlin amidst the Cold War to investigate a brutal murder of a colleague. Directed by David Leitch, who co-directed John Wick and the upcoming Deadpool 2, this is one we cannot wait to sink our teeth into.
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle
Acting as both a reboot, remake and sequel all at once, Welcome to the Jungle is the long-awaited next entry into the Jumanji series 22 years after the original. Here the board game becomes a video-game as a group of teenagers decide to play the game and become the “avatars” they choose to play with – who just happen to look like Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan and Jack Black. The first trailer dropped last week and while still early doors, it certainly looks like a fun-filled adventure.
After the mixed responses to both Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad, Warner Bros and DC will be hoping that their upturn in fortunes after Wonder Woman continue with their Avengers-style team-up film. The two trailers we have seen so far are typically monochromed and immersive, but there is much to look forward to – not least what form Henry Cavill’s Superman will take when the film is unveiled. With a new trailer due at Comic-Con later this month, we remain hopefully optimistic.
Kingsman: The Golden Circle
The first Kingsman film was a huge, and somewhat surprising, success grossing over $400million across the globe so a sequel was inevitable. And building on the success, director Matthew Vaughn has moved the action across the pond and enlisted Jeff Bridges, Julianne Moore, Channing Tatum, Halle Berry and, er, Elton John to make the follow-up even bigger. Sequels are always a tricky business but if Vaughn and co can fuse the humour, action and adventure of the first we are in for one hell of a treat this September.
“We know each other – he’s a friend from work!” Thor gleefully exclaims as he is faced with Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk as part of the impending gladiator-like battle in the first trailer for Ragnarok, which has been watched over million. Potentially our final trip to Asgard, acclaimed filmmaker Taika Waititi (Hunt for the Wilderpeople) looks set to breathe new life into the films with a colourful, eccentric entry into the MCU and with Cate Blanchett and Jeff Goldblum along for the ride, could this be Thor’s greatest adventure?