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Action Movies 2017 – Guide

15th – The Fate Of The Furious (aka Fast And Furious 8)
Starring: Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Charlize Theron, Dwayne Johnson, Tyrese
Director: F. Gary Gray
Out: April 14, 2017
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Just as the crew have been exonerated and are enjoying a normal life, Dom (Diesel) sides with cyber villain Cipher (Theron) and turns against his team, embarking on a crime spree for reasons unknown… In ‘Fast Five’ there was a deliberate push away from street racing towards becoming action/heist movies with cars. Here the focus will shift toward action/spy caper. Kurt Russell returns as the covert Mr.Nobody, introduced last time in a ‘mission-giving’ role that will span multiple films. New locations include Iceland, the recently reopened Cuba, but primarily, New York. Director F. Gary Gray (taking over from James Wan) comes off the back of the excellent ‘Straight Outta Compton’ and is no stranger to enjoyable OTT action having made the likes of ‘Law Abiding Citizen’ (he also previously directed Diesel in ‘A Man Apart’, Theron and Statham in ‘The Italian Job’ and Johnson in ‘Be Cool’). The loss of Paul Walker will be keenly felt, however with a starry cast as expansive as the series now has, as dominated by Diesel as it has become and with Walker’s character no longer a cop or free to romance, they were already struggling with giving him things to do. Scott Eastwood’s addition to the cast as a law enforcement agent could represent something of a character reset. The other major new addition is Helen Mirren, rumoured to be Jason Statham’s mother. Returning cast also include Statham, Michelle Rodriguez, Dwayne Johnson, Tyrese Gibson, Lucas Black and Ludacris. Johnson claims to have fallen out hard with Diesel during the film, posting “When you watch this movie and it seems like I’m not acting in some of these scenes and my blood is legit boiling – you’re right… Some conduct themselves as stand up men and true professionals, while others don’t.” But this is largely thought to be a hoax for promotion. Expect another huge hit. Drink a shot every time they use the word “family”.

14th – War For The Planet of the Apes
Starring: Andy Serkis, Woody Harrelson, Steve Zahn, Judy Greer
Director: Matt Reeves
Out: July 14, 2017
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Caesar (Serkis) and his apes are forced into a deadly conflict with an army of humans led by a ruthless Colonel (Harrelson). After the apes suffer unimaginable losses, Caesar wrestles with his darker instincts and begins his own mythic quest to avenge his kind. As the journey finally brings them face to face, Caesar and the Colonel are pitted against each other in an epic battle that will determine the fate of both their species and the future of the planet… The previous two films have been surprisingly fantastic, and the director of ‘Dawn’ returns here. Given his other directorial credits are the excellent ‘Let Me In’ and the ground-breaking ‘Cloverfield’, he’s quickly established himself as one of the best in the business. Expect more of the (almost) Shakespearian tragedy that was brought to ‘Dawn’, and more of that uneasiness of who to root for as the apes seek to kill or enslave the humans. Also returning is Andy Serkis who mo-caps/voices Caesar and is absolutely vital to the compelling ape drama of the films. ‘Rise’ and ‘Dawn’ were quite different, with 10 years and the entire virus spread separating them. By not pushing the timeline forward here and continuing the war we already saw emerge in the ‘Dawn’, there’s a slight chance this will feel a bit samey – unless they make it truly global. And will the big ape himself, King Kong, a few months earlier dampen some cinemagoer enthusiasm?

13th – Wonder Woman
Starring: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Danny Huston, Elena Anaya, Connie Nielsen, Robin Wright
Director: Patty Jenkins
Out: June 2, 2017
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A hundred years ago, the Amazon princess Diana (Gadot) is living on the paradise island of Themyscira alongside her mother Queen Hippolyta (Nielsen), aunt General Antiope (Wright) and an all-female culture of vying factions. When worldly and cynical fighter pilot Steve Trevor (Pine) lands on their shores with the First World War at his back she resolves to leave, join the world and help put a stop to it… Unlike the experienced, super-confident warrior seen in ‘Batman v Superman’, here Diana is a young idealist, naive and pure. She’s a demigoddess whose father was Zeus, in line with rebooted comic series. The villains are rumoured to be Circe/Doctor Poison (veteran Spanish actress Elena Anaya, half-masked in the trailer) working towards a more corrosive WW1 gas, and Ares (Huston) a German general whose alter-ego is the God of War, manipulating the conflict. Lucy Davis (‘Shaun of the Dead’) provides comic relief as Steve Trevor’s secretary, who befriends Diana. Director Patty Jenkins made the Oscar-winning ‘Monster’ but is new to action (it’s the first summer tentpole superhero film directed by a woman). History has shown Wonder Woman is a hard concept to get right but it seems the time has come, with rumours of a messy production and Gadot’s wooden acting offset by a rocking trailer and effective plotline (echoing ‘Captain America’s involvement in World War 2).

12th – King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
Starring: Charlie Hunnam, Àstrid Bergès-Frisbey, Jude Law, Djimon Hounsou
Director: Guy Ritchie
Out: March 24, 2017
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The young Arthur (Hunnam) runs the back passages of 6th century Londonium with his crew, not knowing his royal lineage until he grabs Excalibur. Instantly confronted by the sword’s influence, Arthur is forced to make up his mind. Joining up with the rebellion and a shadowy young woman named Guinevere (Bergès-Frisbey), he must learn to understand the magic weapon, deal with his demons and unite the people to defeat the dictator Vortigern (Law), who murdered his parents and stole his crown to become king… Directed by Guy Ritchie, who dabbled in famous invented historical figures with ‘Sherlock Holmes’ and did an impressive job with ‘The Man from U.N.C.L.E’. 1981’s ‘Excalibur’ remains the gold standard for the Arthurian myth. 2004’s ‘King Arthur’ removed the magical elements for a more grounded approach but ended up being dreary and generic. This version will dive head first into the fantasy elements, most notably with the use of giant snakes, massive war elephants, and a “monstrous viking-like creature” called The Nemesis. Eric Bana is on board as the father of King Arthur, while David Beckham has a small role as Sir Cumfrence (geddit) who’s rumoured to be trying but failing to get Excalibur from the stone. Overall the cast isn’t particularly must-see, but it’s about what Ritchie brings to it – ‘U.N.C.L.E.’ showed he is brimming with confidence and style. A lot will be decided by what tone he goes for. It’s about time someone got this epic adventure right.

11th – Headshot
Starring: Iko Uwais, Julie Estelle, Chelsea Islan, David Hendrawan
Directors: Kimo Stamboel, Timo Tjahjanto
Out: March 3, 2017
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A nurse finds an amnesiac (Uwais, ‘The Raid’) washed up on a beach with a bullet in his head. As she helps him recover, word gets back to the crime kingpin connected to the incident and he sends trained assassins from his cult-like organisation to finish him off… Bullet ballet/martial arts Indonesian action that sees the star/choreographer of ‘The Raid’ films teaming with directing duo The Mo Brothers (2014’s ‘Killers’) to deliver more extreme Asian action. Toronto Film Festival reviews say it has mediocre melodrama and eventually becomes a bit repetitive, but otherwise the fight scenes are a knockout, peaking with an incredible brawl in a police station.

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