By Tony Beal
A Comanche woman finds herself in new territory when she and her tribe are hunted by an alien with advanced weaponry.
“Predator” is a series that has always redefined itself with each installment, and “Prey” continues the trend with excellent results. Scaling down the action genre to its barest bones, director Dan Trachtenberg brings a vicious and exciting ride that doesn’t let up, while also introducing new and unique set pieces and ideas. Even then, it still lets the characters guide it, as Amber Midthunder and Dakota Beavers (the latter of whom is in his first role) are natural born action stars who shine as a sister-brother duo. Most of all, it brings back the fear that this series has been missing for a while with a brutal new creature. It’s a nice reminder that any series can come back with the right idea.
A group of assassins on a Japanese train find themselves connected in a way that puts them all at risk.
Sometimes you watch a movie and can tell from the first few minutes that it won’t be for you, and yet it can still surprise you with how bad it is. “Bullet Train” is that kind of film that goes through the motions of having a big cast (including cameos), a funky tone and soundtrack, and enough humor and quirks to keep the audience’s interest. What it doesn’t do is make any of those characters likable (wasting a hugely talented cast), provide humor that’s actually funny or give you a reason to care about anything that’s going on. It can’t even deliver on the action, with choppy and ugly fight scenes that have little variety and no thought in the visuals beyond “flashy neon.” It’s a movie where you can tell everyone was only there because they were bored from COVID quarantine and wanted some quick bucks, and no one had any real passion. It’s an infuriating and obnoxious movie, a compilation of the worst aspects of modern action movies.
A journalist travels to a small Texas town to make a podcast around the death of a woman he hooked up with.
Have you ever watched a movie and can tell that the writer spends too much time on Twitter? “Vengeance” is one of those movies, as BJ Novak seems to think he’s made something very insightful on the political divide between upper-middle class Liberals and middle-class Republicans, when all he’s done is come off as someone who’s never met anyone from the latter group. Caricatures roam the story instead of characters (though Boyd Holbrook is trying), in a story that doesn’t seem to know what it’s even about. Is it about the assumptions we make about each other, or the justifications ones will make to deny the truth? I’m not even sure if Novak knows, and it’s hard to laugh at anything going on here or feel like anyone is in danger. By the end, none of it really amounts to anything, as if he himself has given up on the story by that point. You’ll have given up much earlier.
A vampire hunter finds himself in the crosshairs of a new danger as he struggles to secure money for his family.
“Day Shift” almost realizes its potential, if only it could help itself. JJ Perry takes his stuntman past and uses those skills to direct some great action, with some of the most intriguing camerawork of the year and a nice mixture of practical and digital effects. Unfortunately, the script has an obsession with quipping and a self-awareness that is akin to the “Deadpool” movies, as if it needs to acknowledge the strangeness of the story. Sometimes, it’s enough to let the story of a vampire union play out without winking to the audience every five minutes. Still, the actors deliver and sell it well, with Snoop Dogg making the biggest impact—despite his lack of screen time as an old-timer cowboy character. In terms of action movies, Netflix has made worse with more money, and it’s worth a viewing for what it still pulls off.
• “Honk For Jesus, Save Your Soul” (Theaters & Peacock)
• “Brahmastra Part One: Shiva”
• “The Woman King”
• “See How They Run”
• “The Silent Twins” (Limited)
• “Moonage Daydream” (Limited)
• “Don’t Worry Darling”
• “My Best Friend’s Exorcism” (Amazon Prime)
• The Greatest Beer Run Ever (Apple TV+)