Safe House
2012
**½
Director: Daniel Espinosa
Cast: Denzel Washington, Ryan Reynolds, Vera Farmiga, Brendan Gleeson, Sam Shepard, Rubén Blades, Nora Arnezeder, Robert Patrick

A junior CIA agent is bored with his job as the housekeeper of a Cape Town safe house. However, he gets more than he bargained for by having to protect a former agent who has gone rogue. This perfectly entertaining but utterly predictable action movie stands out only by virtue of being set and shot in South Africa. Denzel Washington could play this smartest-guy-in-the-room role in his sleep. Ryan Reynolds unexpectedly keeps his wisecracking to a minimum.


Clear History
2013
**
Director: Greg Mottola
Cast: Larry David, Bill Hader, Jon Hamm, Kate Hudson, Michael Keaton. Danny McBride, Eva Mendes, Amy Ryan, J. B. Smoove, Liev Schreiber

Nathan Flomm became a national joke after he gave up his stake in a hugely successful electric car start-up. 15 years later, he lives incognito in Martha’s Vineyard, until one day he runs into his old boss. Larry David has become a household name by playing a fictionalised version of himself in the HBO sitcom Curb Your Enthusiasm. This feature length comedy is sadly nothing but a lazy and overstretched episode of his TV show. The film is not awful, but it offers exactly the same type of observational humour and features the same protagonist, who cannot let even the most minor grievance go without opening his mouth. Even some of the cast members are familiar from his show.


The Light Between Oceans
2016
**½
Director: Derek Cianfrance
Cast: Michael Fassbender, Alicia Vikander, Rachel Weisz, Bryan Brown, Jack Thompson

A lighthouse keeper, who has just returned from World War I, marries a local woman. After two traumatic miscarriages, the couple experience a miracle when a rowboat carrying a dead man and a newborn baby strands on the island. Derek Cianfrance’s adaptation of M. L. Stedman’s 2012 novel starts well, but the contrived story then takes some laughable turns on the way to its overly melodramatic conclusion. The story is supposedly set in Australia, but as good as Fassbender, Vikander, and Weisz are in their roles, they don’t sound like they’re from that part of the world.


The Girl with All the Gifts
2016
**½
Director: Colm McCarthy
Cast: Gemma Arterton, Paddy Considine, Glenn Close, Sennia Nanua, Anamaria Marinca, Fisayo Akinade, Anthony Welsh, Dominique Tipper

In a dystopian future, a parasitic fungus has turned most of the population into cannibalistic hungries. A small group of people, which includes a young girl who could provide the cure to the infection, manage to escape and head towards London. Mike Carey’s science fiction story, which he scripted from his own novel, offers a slight variation on the old zombie movie formula, at least in the beginning and in the end. The middle part is very familiar creeping-silently-among-zombies stuff. I’m slightly bothered by the characterisation of the hungries, who sometimes eat their victims, and other times only bite and infect them. Visually, this is television standard.


Kick-Ass 2
2013
**½
Director: Jeff Wadlow
Cast: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Chloë Grace Moretz, Jim Carrey, Clark Duke, Morris Chestnut, Donald Faison, John Leguizamo, Augustus Prew, Garrett M. Brown, Iain Glen, Lindy Booth, Robert Emms, Steven Mackintosh

When Hit-Girl goes on hiatus, Kick-Ass finds kinship in a team of amateur superheroes. At the same time, Red Mist rebrands himself and assembles a group of nasty villains. The sequel to Kick-Ass offers more of the same. What was clever in the original, now feels overly familiar. Thankfully the movie is funny, subversive, offensive, and violent. Based on Hit Girl and Kick-Ass 2: Balls to the Wall by Mark Millar and John Romita Jr.


Life
2017
**
Director: Daniel Espinosa
Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson, Ryan Reynolds, Hiroyuki Sanada, Ariyon Bakare, Olga Dihovichnaya

The International Space Station, with a crew of six onboard, pick up a space probe which carries extraterrestrial life from Mars. While the crew members study the organism, they throw a Re-Animator (1985) reference, but for some odd reason they haven’t seen Alien, which would have explained everything that is about to unfold. This science fiction movie offers good performances, impressive visuals, and a screenplay so unoriginal that it’s embarrassing. Even in this context, Ryan Reynolds manages to play the same wisecracking character he always does.


Elvis
2022
***
Director: Baz Luhrmann
Cast: Austin Butler, Tom Hanks, Olivia DeJonge, Helen Thomson, Richard Roxburgh, Kelvin Harrison Jr, David Wenham, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Luke Bracey, Dacre Montgomery

Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis Presley biopic is narrated by Colonel Tom Parker, the star’s duplicitous manager who famously exploited his client throughout his career. The story focuses on three key moments in the singer’s career: the breakthrough in the 1950s, the 68 Comeback Special, and the final years in Las Vegas. The film is long, yet it feels rushed and sanitised. Anything good that happens is due to Elvis’ brilliance, anything bad that happens is someone else’s fault. Amongst all of this, Priscilla barely registers as a character. Luhrmann clearly wants to focus on Elvis as a brilliant performer. The musical performances are admittedly impressive and there is no doubt that Austin Butler gives a very strong lead performance.


Mud
2012
***
Director: Jeff Nichols
Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Tye Sheridan, Sam Shepard, Michael Shannon, Joe Don Baker, Ray McKinnon, Sarah Paulson, Paul Sparks, Jacob Lofland, Reese Witherspoon

Ellis and Neckbone are 14-year-old boys who discover a fugitive hiding on a small island in the Mississippi River. The boys form a bond with the elusive man and want to help him flee with his girlfriend. This interesting drama captures an authentic sense of place and inhabits it with believable well-drawn characters. However, the film’s questionable message appears to be that if you put your trust in women, be prepared for disappointment. Nevertheless, Tye Sheridan and Matthew McConaughey shine in their roles.


Promising Young Woman
2020
*****
Director: Emerald Fennell
Cast: Carey Mulligan, Bo Burnham, Alison Brie, Clancy Brown, Chris Lowell, Jennifer Coolidge, Laverne Cox, Connie Britton, Molly Shannon

After a traumatic event in college, Cassie dropped out of medical school. Now 30, she works in a coffee shop by day and goes out at nights to entrap men who are ready to take advantage of drunk women. Emerald Fennell’s feature debut is a deliciously nasty and funny black comedy, which offers a rather cynical view of the male species and their sense of entitlement. They are all monsters, or are they? This is what Cassie must asks herself when she attempts to put the past behind her and embark on a relationship with her former classmate. Fennell’s Academy Award winning screenplay unfolds like a Hitchcockian thriller. Carey Mulligan gives a terrific performance in the lead.


Call Me by Your Name
2017
***
Director: Luca Guadagnino
Cast: Armie Hammer, Timothée Chalamet, Michael Stuhlbarg, Amira Casar, Esther Garrel, Victoire Du Bois

During the summer of 1983, 17-year-old Elio gradually falls for Oliver, an American graduate student who works as his father’s research assistant in their summer house in Northern Italy. This coming-of-age story is well-acted and shot, but as a drama it feels like much ado about nothing. I know that when you’re young and heartbroken, the whole world seems to revolve around your heightened emotions, but the central romance (more of a fling, to be honest) fails to resonate with me or, when necessary, tug at my heartstrings, despite the baggy run-time. Incidentally, Bernardo Bertolucci’s Stealing Beauty (1996) covered similar ground. James Ivory adapted André Aciman’s 2007 novel for his Academy Award winning screenplay.


First Reformed
2017
****
Director: Paul Schrader
Cast: Ethan Hawke, Amanda Seyfried, Cedric Kyles, Victoria Hill, Philip Ettinger, Michael Gaston, Bill Hoag

Pastor Toller of the First Reformed Church counsels a young man who is completely overwhelmed by the implications of climate change. This drives the ailing and troubled pastor to question his own beliefs and purpose in the world. Paul Schrader has written some terrific screenplays about desperately lonely and self-destructive men (Taxi Driver and Raging Bull), but his directorial track record is a bit hit and miss. However, this intriguing and powerful drama is one of his best. Ethan Hawke is excellent in the lead.


The Heat
2013
***½
Director: Paul Feig
Cast: Sandra Bullock, Melissa McCarthy, Demián Bichir, Marlon Wayans, Michael Rapaport, Dan Bakkedahl, Taran Killam, Michael McDonald, Jane Curtin, Michael B. Tucci

To catch a mysterious drug lord, an uptight FBI agent is forced to team up with a Boston PD detective, who is not so particular about rules and regulations. This buddy action comedy is not terribly original, but it has great lead and supporting characters and, most importantly, it’s very funny. Bullock and McCarthy work well together.


A Simple Favor
2018
**
Director: Paul Feig
Cast: Anna Kendrick, Blake Lively, Henry Golding, Andrew Rannells, Linda Cardellini, Dustin Milligan, Jean Smart, Rupert Friend, Eric Johnson

Single mother Stephanie begins to spend time with Emily, the mother of her son’s classmate, who then suddenly disappears. The peppy and productive Stephanie somehow makes a living running a vlog and the snarky and inaccessible Emily drowns her unhappiness in alcohol. Only in Hollywood would these two sketchy characters become friends. This second rate Gone Girl rehash is loosely based on Darcey Bell’s 2017 novel. The book was a thriller, but Jessica Sharzer’s tonally confused screenplay cannot decide if it wants to be a drama or a comedy. The resulting film is implausible, mechanical, and dull.


The Card Counter
2021
**
Director: Paul Schrader
Cast: Oscar Isaac, Tiffany Haddish, Tye Sheridan, Willem Dafoe, Alexander Babara, Bobby C. King

William Tell is a gambler who served time in military prison for his role in the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal. He meets a young man who wants to kill a retired officer who trained William. This dull drama about another lonely self-loathing man who fights his demons feels like Paul Schrader by the numbers. For this one, he combines two parallel stories, professional gambling and personal redemption, which are both equally boring. Nevertheless, Oscar Isaac gives another fine performance.


Nobody
2021
***
Director: Ilya Naishuller
Cast: Bob Odenkirk, Aleksei Serebryakov, Connie Nielsen, Christopher Lloyd, Michael Ironside, Colin Salmon, RZA, Billy MacLellan, Gage Munroe

Hutch Mansell is a mild-mannered and unassuming man, whose wife, son, and in-laws all think he is a loser. When two people break into his house, Hutch can no longer suppress his violent past. This story about a man who goes out to kill bad guys is not much of a stretch for Derek Kolstad, who also scripted the John Wick series. At least in this short and snappy but highly implausible action movie, the hero is a fallible and vulnerable everyman (Bob Odenkirk in an unusual role).


Mudbound
2017
***
Director: Dee Rees
Cast: Carey Mulligan, Garrett Hedlund, Jason Clarke, Jason Mitchell, Mary J. Blige, Rob Morgan, Jonathan Banks

The McAllans (white) and the Jacksons (black) farm the same land in the unforgiving Mississippi Delta. Jamie McAllan and Ronsel Jackson both return home from World War II in Europe and struggle to readjust to their former lives. This well-acted period drama tells a classic tale of you can never go home again. The returning war heroes must deal with PTSD, which is something new, and racism, which has always been there. Dee Rees creates a wonderful and thoroughly believable sense of place and time, but the world she paints and the characters she inhabits it with are not only racially but also dramatically black and white, without a hint of grey. Based on Hillary Jordan’s novel.


Peruna (The Potato Venture)
2021
**
Director: Joona Tena
Cast: Joonas Nordman, Mikko Penttilä, Alex Anton, Kari Hietalahti, Linnea Leino, Kari Ketonen, Petteri Pennilä, Mimosa Willamo, Linda Manelius, Lasse Karkjärvi, Antti Tuomas Heikkinen

Untamo is a resourceful young man who wants to start growing and selling potatoes, but nobody believes that his weird root vegetable could replace turnip in 17th century Finland. This Finnish comedy set in the world of start-ups has a clever and inventive pitch, but I didn’t find the end product funny at all. It basically has one joke, characters doing and saying anachronistic things, which is repeated over and over for 100 minutes. That could work for a 15-minute skit but not for a feature length film.


Stillwater
2021
***½
Director: Tom McCarthy
Cast: Matt Damon, Camille Cottin, Abigail Breslin, Lilou Siauvaud, Deanna Dunagan, Idir Azougli, Anne Le Ny, Moussa Maaskri

Bill Baker, an unemployed oil rig worker from Oklahoma, travels to Marseille, where his estranged daughter Allison is serving time for murder. When her lawyer offers little hope, Bill decides to take matters into his own hands and prove her daughter’s innocence. The screenplay is loosely based on Amanda Knox, who spent close to four years in an Italian prison. In the wrong hands, this could have become another Taken-like celebration of xenophobia and vigilantism, but Tom McCarthy’s finely nuanced drama embraces cultural differences and tells a moving story of a reserved and unrefined man who gets a second chance at happiness. Matt Damon gives one of his better performances in the lead.


The Bob’s Burgers Movie
2022
***½
Director: Loren Bouchard, Bernard Derriman
Cast: H. Jon Benjamin, Dan Mintz, Eugene Mirman, Larry Murphy, John Roberts, Kristen Schaal, Zach Galifianakis, Kevin Kline

The Belcher family – Bob, Linda, and their three children – run a struggling burger joint. Things go from bad to worse when a massive sinkhole, with a dead body in it, appears in front of their restaurant. This feature length animation is based on the wonderful Bob’s Burgers, which returns for its 13th season in the second half of 2022. Much like The Simpsons Movie, this is an enjoyable movie (with maybe one too many songs), but these characters and their stories work better in short format.


Flugt (Flee)
2021
****½
Director: Jonas Poher Rasmussen
Cast:

This excellent animated documentary tells the incredible immigration story of Amin Nawabi and his family, which took them from Afghanistan to Denmark via Russia. During this traumatic journey, Amin must also come to terms with his homosexuality. Jonas Poher Rasmussen’s film is at par with other captivating animated biographies, like Persepolis and Waltz with Bashir.


London Has Fallen
2016
**½
Director: Babak Najafi
Cast: Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Morgan Freeman, Alon Moni Aboutboul, Angela Bassett, Robert Forster, Jackie Earle Haley, Melissa Leo, Radha Mitchell, Sean O’Bryan, Waleed Zuaiter

Mike Banning is back on the presidential detail as President Asher and other world leaders gather in London to attend the British Prime Minister’s funeral. All hell breaks loose when terrorists attack the dignitaries and the city’s landmarks. The sequel to Olympus Has Fallen turns everything to 11. The explosions are bigger, the body count is higher, and the script is even dumber and more far-fetched than before. Now the hero can’t turn a street corner in London without running into another member of the terrorist group. Nevertheless, the movie is short and snappy, and oddly enjoyable. Followed by Angel Has Fallen (2019).


Olympus Has Fallen
2013
**½
Director: Antoine Fuqua
Cast: Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Morgan Freeman, Angela Bassett, Robert Forster, Cole Hauser, Finley Jacobsen, Ashley Judd, Melissa Leo, Dylan McDermott, Radha Mitchell, Rick Yune

Mike Banning, a tainted Secret Service agent who was removed from the presidential detail, is the only hope when a North Korean terrorist group attacks the White House and takes the President hostage. This entertainingly hard-boiled and violent action movie about one good guy against a gang of bad guys proves that the Die Hard formula is alive and well. The script here is dumb and implausible, not to mention similar to the superior White House Down, which was released only a few months later. Followed by London Has Fallen and Angel Has Fallen


Carol
2015
*****
Director: Todd Haynes
Cast: Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, Sarah Paulson, Jake Lacy, Kyle Chandler

Therese, a young aspiring photographer, works in a department store, where she meets Carol, an older woman who is going through a nasty divorce. Todd Haynes’ exquisite drama about forbidden love in the 1950s is pretty much perfect in all departments. The screenplay by Phyllis Nagy (from Patricia Highsmith’s novel The Price of Salt) is excellent, the performances are superb, the sets and costumes are beautiful, and the score by Carter Burwell is hauntingly moving.


Spiderhead
2022
**½
Director: Joseph Kosinski
Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Miles Teller, Jurnee Smollett, Mark Paguio, Tess Haubrich, Angie Milliken, Stephen Tongun, Daniel Reader, Sam Delich, BeBe Bettencourt

The remote Spiderhead Penitentiary and Research Center houses a small number of inmates, who have volunteered to act as medical test subjects in order to reduce their sentence. Is the brilliant and ridiculously handsome head scientist Steve Abnesti a good guy or a bad guy? Like the recent Swan Song, this psychological thriller features an interesting science fiction concept, but the resulting film feels like an overstretched episode of Black Mirror. As the story builds momentum, some plot holes begin to appear. Based on a short story Escape from Spiderhead by George Saunders.


10 Cloverfield Lane
2016
***½
Director: Dan Trachtenberg
Cast: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Goodman, John Gallagher Jr.

Following a car crash, a young woman wakes up in a locked underground bunker occupied by two men. The older man who built the bunker, claims that the country is under attack and it is not safe to go outside. Despite the confined setting, this is a tense and gripping psychological drama, which is slightly spoiled by the fact that we know it’s part of the Cloverfield franchise.


Happy End
2017
***
Director: Michael Haneke
Cast: Isabelle Huppert, Jean-Louis Trintignant, Mathieu Kassovitz, Franz Rogowski, Fantine Harduin, Laura Verlinden, Toby Jones, Loubna Abidar

Michael Haneke’s subtle and biting social satire follows three generations of the wealthy Laurent family, who live in Calais, close to a migrant encampment. The voyeuristic story of these damaged people is captivating and well acted, but Haneke has covered similar ground in superior films like Benny’s Video, Caché, and Funny Games.


Stuber
2019

Director: Michael Dowse
Cast: Kumail Nanjiani, Dave Bautista, Iko Uwais, Natalie Morales, Betty Gilpin, Jimmy Tatro, Mira Sorvino, Karen Gillan

LAPD detective Vic Manning receives a promising lead on the drug trafficker who killed his partner. However, he cannot see clearly after corrective eye surgery, so he must rely on the help of Uber driver Stu. This buddy action comedy, brought to you by Uber, has two contrasting leads who have good onscreen chemistry. Unfortunately, I have no other positive comments to make about this movie. The story about a half-blind cop who drags an innocent civilian on a personal revenge rampage doesn’t include one believable moment.


Army of Thieves
2021
**
Director: Matthias Schweighöfer
Cast: Matthias Schweighöfer, Nathalie Emmanuel, Ruby O. Fee, Stuart Martin, Guz Khan, Jonathan Cohen

In this prequel to Army of the Dead, we learn the backstory of Ludwig Dieter, German specialist who was brought in to crack the Las Vegas safe designed by the legendary Hans Wagner. Now he is recruited to a team who aim to open Wagner’s three other safes in Paris, Prague, and St. Moritz. The zombies remain enclosed in Nevada, this a traditional heist movie with likeable performances and visuals. That is, however, not enough to compensate for an utterly stupid and implausible script. The team, which is entirely comprised of hot young adults, know they can’t get away with the money, but they are happy to risk their lives to break into three banks for the thrill of it. In the silliest scene, the hero spins the dials of the safe and listens for a click on the back of a truck going down a curvy road.


Army of the Dead
2021
**½
Director: Zack Snyder
Cast: Dave Bautista, Ella Purnell, Omari Hardwick, Ana de la Reguera, Theo Rossi, Matthias Schweighöfer, Nora Arnezeder, Hiroyuki Sanada, Tig Notaro, Raúl Castillo, Huma Qureshi, Garret Dillahun

Zack Snyder takes a break from the DC universe to launch a new zombie heist movie franchise. The city of Las Vegas has been walled in after it was overrun by zombies. A few days before the government is about to nuke it, a ragtag group of mercenaries enter the city to break into a casino vault. Like he did with Watchmen, Snyder sets up the scene with a terrific title sequence, and it’s all a slow downhill from there onwards. However, the movie is more entertaining than I expected, but it is terribly formulaic (simultaneously in two genres) and needlessly long. Followed by Army of Thieves, which is a prequel spin-off.


The Comeback Trail
2020
**
Director: George Gallo
Cast: Robert De Niro, Tommy Lee Jones, Morgan Freeman, Zach Braff, Emile Hirsch, Eddie Griffin, Kate Katzman, Blerim Destani

After Killer Nuns bombs at the box office, the movie’s producer Max Barber struggles to pay back his loan to a mob boss. He decides to carry out an insurance scam, which requires the elderly star of his next movie to drop dead during the shoot. This comedy is set in 1974 and it is a remake of a 1982 film of the same name. The set-up is like a mix of The Ladykillers and The Producers. Despite the promising premise, the film is not funny and some of the performances are awful.


Thor: Love and Thunder
2022
**½
Director: Taika Waititi
Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Christian Bale, Tessa Thompson, Jaimie Alexander, Taika Waititi, Russell Crowe, Natalie Portman

In his fourth feature, Thor must deal with the return of Jane Foster, his old flame who now wields Mjolnir, and Gorr, a vengeful father who has vowed to kill all gods with the help of Necrosword. Taika Waititi’s Thor:Ragnarok (2017) injected a healthy amount of wacky humour into the franchise, and for many people it represents the highpoint of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The follow-up ups the comedy ante and turns the god of thunder into a total buffoon. While the bad guy is butchering gods and kidnapping children, and the ex-girlfriend is dying of cancer, Waititi cannot get through one scene without turning it into a joke. When everything’s a joke, nothing ends up being funny, or moving. This tone-deaf superhero movie delivers passable two hours, but it doesn’t seem to add anything to the overarching MCU storyline. With four songs, a renamed character, and background props, it looks like Guns n’ Roses sponsored the production.


Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore
2022
**
Director: David Yates
Cast: Eddie Redmayne, Jude Law, Ezra Miller, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol, Callum Turner, Jessica Williams, Katherine Waterston, Mads Mikkelsen

The third and hopefully final episode in the Fantastic Beasts series offers marginal improvement on the dreadful second film, The Crimes of Grindelwald. At least this time an actual fantastic beast (Qilin) plays a key role as Gellert Grindelwald (now played by Mads Mikkelsen) seeks political power in the wizarding world. His former lover Albus Dumbledore asks Newt Scamander to lead a team that aims to confound the dark wizard. J.K. Rowling, who wrote the first two episodes alone, now shares the writing credit with Steve Kloves, who adapted all but one of the seven Harry Potter books, but the end result is another overlong movie comprised of inconsequential scenes. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them introduced a cast of characters, who have struggled to find a meaningful part to play in the subsequent two releases. Newt leads the team, but what does he actually do? Jacob’s contribution is to wave a fake wand in one scene. Credence walks around brooding and wondering who his daddy is. Queenie gives uncomfortable looks in Grindelwald’s gang, and that’s it. Her sister Tina, Newt’s love interest, is not involved at all because she is busy. After three releases, it is still unclear to me what the overall story of this franchise is.


Greenland
2020
**½
Director: Ric Roman Waugh
Cast: Gerard Butler, Morena Baccarin, David Denman, Hope Davis, Roger Dale Floyd, Andrew Bachelor, Merrin Dungey, Holt McCallany, Scott Glenn

When comet fragments start raining down on Earth and panic begins to spread among the population, a construction engineer receives a surprising message that his family have been selected for emergency sheltering. Like Deep Impact more than 20 years ago, this disaster movie asks what would happen if only a handful of people were saved from an extinction-level event. Most of the resulting on-screen drama comes from the people going bonkers rather than the comet fragments causing destruction. The end result is stupid and predictable but rather entertaining.


The Man from Toronto
2022
**
Director: Patrick Hughes
Cast: Kevin Hart, Woody Harrelson, Kaley Cuoco, Jasmine Mathews, Lela Loren, Pierson Fodé, Jencarlos Canela, Ellen Barkin

Teddy Jackson is full of energy and industry, but he seems to mess up every promising idea with his ineptitude. During a weekend break with his wife, he is mistaken for a ruthless hitman/enforcer only known as the Man from Toronto. This formulaic buddy action comedy brings together two very different characters; one is a bumbling nincompoop who is black, the other is a grumpy and serious tough guy who is white. The premise is somewhat promising, but Hart and Harrelson lack chemistry and the movie is never as funny as it thinks it is.


Top Gun: Maverick
2022
****½
Director: Joseph Kosinski
Cast: Tom Cruise, Miles Teller, Jennifer Connelly, Jon Hamm, Glen Powell, Lewis Pullman, Ed Harris, Val Kilmer

Pete “Maverick” Mitchell returns to TOPGUN to train an elite team of fighter pilots for a mission, which requires them to fly through a canyon in order to destroy an uranium enrichment plant. One member of the team brings up Maverick’s past trauma. This belated sequel to Top Gun is a massive upgrade on the original and way more fun than it has any right to be. It’s definitely a movie made for the big cinema screen. The story is gripping, the performances are strong, the obligatory romance feels believable, and the 100% real flight scenes are simply breathtaking. It makes several callbacks to the 1986 original, sometimes through music, other times through characters, and occasionally recreating scene for scene.