ORBzine - Young Adult Adaptations Movie Reviews


The Darkest Minds (2018)

The Darkest Minds (2018) This is based on a YA book by Alexandra Langham . It is set in a world where all human children fall ill with a strange disease, so they are rounded up and put in quarantine.

The guards allow a stroppy teenager to murder one of their own. Presumably they want to enslave the strongest mutants as warriors. However, the kids are then processed by an unarmed Doctor (Wallace Langham - ) who does not have any guards or other protection. The protagonist's power is to do the Jedi Mind Trick. At first it only affects people she touches, even through their clothing. Later she develops the power to use it at much longer range.

The President is Bradley Whitford ( Handmaid's Tale ). Most of the villains are creepy white men. In fact, villains of colour are not well represented.

The protagonist is helped by a friendly lady doctor ( Mandy Moore ). But does she have a secret agenda? The setup is the standard YA one. The kids have superpowers, and they cannot trust the adults.

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  • The Fifth Wave (2016)

    The Fifth Wave (2016) Yes, yet another post-Apocalyptic action movie with a teenage heroine like Hunger Games and Divergent . The protagonist is Chloe Grace Moretz , but she is not the kick-ass hit-girl we are used to.

    Alien starships arrive and hover over the major cities, like in V: The Series . Then they start their attacks. The first wave is an EMP, which makes planes drop out of the sky like in Revolution . The second wave is more literal, a massive tsunami like in Deep Impact . The third wave is an outbreak of disease. The fourth wave is a bunch of hillbillies with hunting rifles.

    Finally the US Army arrives on the scene, led by a Colonel (Liev Schreiber - Scream ) and Sergeant ( Maria Bello ). It turns out they are building an army of child soldiers to fight the Fifth Wave of the alien invasion. Anyone who has seen the film Oblivion will be a bit cynical about this whole series of events.

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  • The Giver (2014)

    The Giver (2014) This is set in a futuristic city, isolated from the outside world - a standard trope in Sci-Fi. The story is based on a Young Adult novel, and is quite derivative of other works. Our protagonist (a male, which is unusual for this sub-genre) turns eighteen, and attends the standard job-allocation ceremony (like in Divergent ). He is allocated a strange job - he is to be a receiver of memories, the guardian of almost-forgotten knowledge. Jeff Bridges (almost as beardy and unkempt as he was in True Grit ) is his predecessor and trainer, who now becomes the Giver of memories. The old man teaches the youngster by means of a telepathic link.

    Naturally, when our hero discovers the dark side of his Utopia he rebels against the system. In this case the grown-ups are his Mother ( Katie Holmes ), Father (Alexander Saarsgard - True Blood ) and the community's Matriarch Meryl Streep .

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  • I am Number 4 (2011)

    I am Number 4 (2011) This is based on a novel, but the unoriginality does not begin there. The producers are Gough and Millar ( Smallville ) and Marti Noxious ( Buffy ). The plot is a rehash of Roswell . Alien teenagers are in hiding on modern-day Earth. Our hero, Number Four, is one of them. His guardian/mentor is American Jedi Timothy Olyphant (the male Julie Benz - he is in everything!). Our hero goes to a new High School, where he meets love interest Diana Agron . She also plays a High School girl in Glee , though she (like the rest of the cast) is about ten years too old. There are the usual two-dimensional jock and nerd stereotypes too.

    Our heroes are hunted by the Trench Coat Mafia - they have tattoos, they are the least subtle villains since Charmed . Their leader is Joshua from Dark Angel ! Speaking of that show, there is also a mysterious Buffy-lookalike, Faith-acting motorbike chick ( Eliza Taylor ) ...

    The result is predictable enough. But if you know what to expect, you have no right to complain.

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  • Mortal Engines (2018)

    Mortal Engines (2018) This is adapted from a trilogy of YA novels. A lot is squeezed in, perhaps because the film-makers knew this would never be successful enough that the other parts of the trilogy would be adapted to film. As a result, this is a simplistic film that even fans of the books would find disappointing.

    Tom Natsworthy (Robert Sheehan - Misfits ) works for Thaddeus Valentine (Hugo Weaving - The Matrix ), who works for Magnus Crome (Patrick Malahide - The World Is Not Enough ) - the leader of the city of London. Since the cities have become mobile, predatory entities that hunt each other down, this makes Crome and Valentine very powerful. When someone tries to assassinate Valentine, Tom finds himself emeshed in an adventure.

    This is typical YA fare, combining a post-apocalyptic world with an extreme concept that the tweenage protagonists must rebel against. There were more books in the series, but this film was not successful enough to warrant a sequel.

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  • Maze Runner Franchise

    Maze Runner (2014)

    Maze Runner (2014) An amnesiac teenager, Thomas (Dylan O'Brien - American Assassin ) wakes up in a location filled with other teenage boys. They are in a concrete pen, many acres in size, with only one way in or out. During daytime hours the gate is open, and the boys can explore the maze outside. But at night the gates automatically lock, while the Maze resets itself. And anyone locked outside at night is left to the mercy of monsters so terrifying that nobody has ever seen them and lived to tell about it.

    The setting is original but the storyline is quite basic. Our protagonist must make allies, explore the maze and eventually save everyone. It is adapted from a Young Adult novel, so it is not overly complicated. However, it is well-made and the style makes up for the substance. All in all, quite a watchable effort.

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  • Maze Runner 2: Scorch Trials (2015)

    Maze Runner 2: Scorch Trials (2015) The original film in the series seemed to be exactly that - original, to a greater or lesser extend. However, this sequel is a derivative and predictable piece of work.

    Thomas (Dylan O'Brien - American Assassin ), Newt (Thomas Brody-Sangster - Game Of Thrones ), and the rest of our teenage heroes find themselves guests in a bunker where they are checked out by medical personnel. But does the boss (Aiden Gillen - Game of Thrones ) have their best intentions at heart? Or is this like in The 100: Season 2 ?

    Our heroes make their way across the desert, AKA the Scorch of the title. It does not live up to its reputation, as it is not the thing that actually inflicts damage on their group. No, what puts them in danger is their tendency to REPEATEDLY wander around in dark creepy ruins where the Fast Zombies are lurking! Also note, when wandering in the desert everyone seems to use camp-fires that can be seen many miles away. And they assume that the villains will be unable to track them down!

    Our heroes meet Giancarlo Esposito (an untrustworthy renegade who is a more ragged-looking version of his character in Revolution ) and Alan Tudyk (not at all like his character in Firefly ). Can they find Sanctuary, like in Logan’s Run ? Will the rebel leaders ( Lilli Taylor and Barry Pepper - Battleground Earth ) shelter them? And since the villains use helicopters as their main assault vehicle, do the rebels have lookouts and Anti-Aircraft weapons at the ready?

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  • Death Cure
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  • Maze Runner 3: Death Cure (2018)

    Maze Runner 3: Death Cure (2018) This is the third and final installment in the series. It should have come out a year earlier, but production was delayed by an on-set mishap. As a result, the previous films may not be in the forefront of the audience's memories. At least this series has a concluding chapter, unlike the Divergent Series .

    Thomas (Dylan O'Brien - American Assassin ), Newt (Thomas Brody-Sangster - Game Of Thrones ) and the teenage heroes of the series try to rescue their still-imprisoned friend. To do this, they must hijack a train guarded by a SWAT team. The kids have a couple of token adults to help them - Giancarlo Esposito ( Revolution ) and Barry Pepper ( Battleground Earth ).

    The boss (Aiden Gillen - Game of Thrones ) is still after the teenagers. They are valuable because they are subjects in an experiment to find a cure to the virus that has destroyed most of the human race. Infected people, basically Fast Zombies, roam the wastelands. The survivors are few and far between.

    The teens have to penetrate the villains' inner sanctum. It is a walled citadel, inside the fabled Last City. Yes, one city of humans has actually managed to survive thus far. The outskirts are a typical Mad Max shanty town ruled by Walton Goggins ( Predators ). He will help them infiltrate the inner city, where all the rich people still live comfortable middle-class lives. But only if the kids help him destroy the urban utopia!

    Thomas discovers his love interest ( Kaya Scodelario ) has converted to the cause of the so-called villains. They are the only ones who can get a cure for the zombie-itis. Okay, they are only doing it so they can be powerful and rule the world. However, since they already have most of the guns and the food we can safely say that they already control as much as they need to.

    At its heart, this movie is basically action-adventure. The climax is a CGI-intensive explosion-fest.

    Since the story is basically one of teenage anarchists rebelling against the tyrannical authority of adults, there can be no good ending. They live in a Fast Zombie apocalypse. The best outcome they can expect is the one at the end of Planet Terror .

  • Maze Runner
  • Scorch Trials
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  • Divergent Franchise

    Divergent (2014)

    Divergent (2014) This is set in a post-apocalyptic near future, when all life on Earth has been destroyed (apparently) except the MegaCity of Chicago. The population has been split into five factions, each representing one human personality trait. Sort of like Herman's Head, but dumbed down and without the jokes. They are the snobs (intellect), the rude people (honesty), the hippies (growing food), the public servants (giving the food away to the homeless) and the Dauntless (free-running teenagers). The teenagers must take a test to find their aptitude, so they know which faction to join. This is not a written test, it is a drug-induced state allowing the testers to observe the candidate's surface thoughts via a monitor. Maggie Q is the test administrator, so we know she will pop up later.

    Our heroine is Tris ( Shailene Woodbury ), raised as a public servant, chooses Dauntless. She does not have the physical fitness necessary, and the necessary character traits are not established so it all seems out of character. I mean, Katniss in Hunger Games was established as a bow-hunter, but this girl is never shown as having an interest in free-running.

    There is another problem with her leaving her home Faction. You can choose a new Faction, but they do not have to choose you. The bottom 35% of testees are dropped, and since they cannot return home they become Factionless. They will be excluded from citizenship and all the creature comforts, but are still allowed to live in the city (as homeless scroungers in cardboard boxes). Now, this means that there are three times as many of them than of any single faction! That said, there are always the suicides and the selective murders.

    Kate Winslet , leader of the snobs, decides to launch a Coup D'Etat against the city leader, the head of the Public Servants - Ray Stevenson ( Punisher: War Zone ). His associates, including Katniss' mother ( Ashley Judd ) are all marked for death. Can Katniss and her friends save the day?

    The story has an open ending, because there are two more books in the series. Like Captain America 2 (which was released at the same time) it is PG-13, so the action is CGI violence - there are no realistic injuries. Of course, this effort has a much more simplistic plot, but that is really where the differences end.

  • Insurgent
  • Allegient
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  • Insurgent (2015)

    Insurgent (2015) The second book in the Divergent Series, this takes off just were the original leaves off. There is no character development to speak of, the characters are just as two-dimensional as they were in the first film. Yes, the previous film’s Hero’s Journey resulted in absolutely no character development for the supporting cast.

    The English BF discovers that his mother ( Naomi Watts ) has disguised herself by becoming a brunette and looking ten years younger. She faked her death, and is now the secret leader of the Casteless Untouchables. She plans a violent rebellion against the ruling clique, so she is the perfect ally. However, her son (who has had minimal contact with her for over a decade) condemns her as completely untrustworthy. How can he be so certain? And more importantly, is he correct?

    The teenage heroes must infiltrate the villains' HQ and overthrow the evil regime. No surprises there.

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  • Allegient
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  • Allegient (2016)

    Allegient (2016) This is the first half of third book in the Divergent Series.

    The English BF's mother Evelyn ( Naomi Watts ) has her own agenda. She kills anyone who does not do what she says. She starts with Kate Winslet's followers, but then goes on to kill Joan's followers as well.

    Tris ( Shailene Woodbury ), her English BF and her brother make a break for freedom. Miles Teller ( Fastastic Four ) tags along, despite having double-crossed Tris (and been forgiven by her) in both the previous two movies. They discover a utopia ruled by ... However, Tris is paranoid about things that are too good to be true. After all, we all know how Mount Weather turned out in The 100: Season 2 .

    The villains plan to release a gas that gives everyone in Chicago a memory wipe. The heroes act as if it is a terrible idea, but it is a non-lethal weapon that will stop the war and prevent any further killing.

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  • Millennium Trilogy Franchise

    Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, The (2011)

    Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, The (2011) The film kicks off with an Uber-stylish credits sequence, like something out of a James Bond film, to a Trent Reznor cover version of a classic rock song. It then proceeds into a pulp 1970s-style revenge thriller that Quentin Tarantino would be proud to have written. Of course, David Fincher gave us slick pieces like Se7en so this is much less gaudy or lurid in delivery.

    Our hero is Crusading Journalist Stieg Larson - oops, I mean Mikhail von Blumberg - who looks like International sex symbol James Bond (Daniel Craig - Casino Royale ). He is in trouble for harassing and slandering a businessman who is supposed to have helped finance the Croatian Militias in the defence of their families during the Serbian genocide of the 1990s. Wow, no political point-scoring here.

    The title character is Lizbo Salamander ( Rooney Mara ) , who has single-handedly invented the Goth-chick look. Wow, how original! She is a ward of the state - ooh, poor victim. Wait a minute, she is a violent sociopath with multiple convictions for violent felonies. If this story had been re-set in the USA, rather than having English-speaking actors pretending to be Swedish, she would be just another ex-convict being hassled by her Parole Officer. Instead we are meant to side with her against the corrupt socialist institutions that the author Larson himself champions!

    The protagonists are hired to investigate a missing persons case. They stumble across a serial killer - more of a Ted Bundy than a John Wayne Gacy, so it is Fem-Jep instead of gay-bashing. The implication is that this is linked to Nazis and anti-Semitism. In reality, Sweden was one of the LEAST fascist European countries in the 1940s - despite having pro-Nazi dictatorships for all their neighbours, and the spectre of invasion by Stalinist Russia, the Swedes remained staunchly neutral (and thus saved thousands of civilians from the Holocaust). Also, not all Nazis were anti-Semitic (and vice versa). But Larson, ever keen to make political attacks on people he disagrees with, ignores the facts.

    The morals of the story? Freedom of speech is vital, unless you disagree with Stieg Larson's opinions. Big business is corrupt and should be shut down - by an equally corrupt Socialist regime. Rape is horrible and should not be glamourised or exploited - except in stories like this. All in all, self-righteous hypocritical crap.

  • Girl Who Played With Fire, The
  • Girl Who kicked The Hornet's Nest, The
  • Girl In The Spider's Web, The
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  • Girl Who Played With Fire, The (2009)

    Girl Who Played With Fire, The (2009) This is a made-for-TV follow-up to the original film. It is in Swedish, with subtitles.

    A Female Supremacist ( Buffy meets Romper Stomper) named Lizbo Salamander ( Noomi Rapace ) takes on the organised sex trade. This is hypocritical, since she pays for lesbian sex herself. A pity that Emma Watson did not get the role for the US remake, because the film would be a great hit if it had Hermione Granger going down on another woman!

    This was written by a journalist with his own political agenda to push, and it shows. His hypocrisy is dreadful. In the book he states that a woman merely experiments with bondage, while he accuses a man who does the same of acting out sick rape fantasies.

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  • Girl Who kicked The Hornet's Nest, The
  • Girl In The Spider's Web, The
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  • Girl In The Spider's Web, The (2018)

    Girl In The Spider's Web, The (2018) After the original remake's mediocre performance, the lead roles were re-cast. Rather than continue to remake the Noomi Rapace movies, they decided to start adapting the new spin-off novels. Yes, this is franchise fiction at its worst.

    Lizbo Salamander ( Claire Foy ) may be the richest woman in the world, but she still lives the life of a down-and-out. Somehow she is a wanted criminal, despite having the ability to scrub her own records. She spends her time indulging her sadistic hobby of beating up and robbing rich men. Well, she is really stealing from their wives.

    One piece of work-for-hire she accepts is from a computer programmer named Baldur (Stephen Merchant - Logan (2017) ). He took a job from the American NSA, to create an ultimate code-breaker that can access nuclear weapons codes. Now he wants her to steal his work back, although he has no intention of returning the salary he was paid to create it.

    Lizbo does the necessary, and hacks the NSA mainframe. Now she is the only person with a copy of the most important program in the world. Of course, she thus brings down hell upon herself. Not just from the NSA, who only have a singleAgent to go after her. No, there is a murder-squad with military-grade weapons as well. They also go after Baldur and his autistic son (Martin from Gotham .

    In the second book of the original trilogy, Lizbo took out her father's organised crime network. It was all a bit small-scale and seedy. Now, however, it has been re-activated. Lisbo's albino sister is now in charge. yes, there has been a massive embellishment to her original backstory. Worse, the sister has a massive blond henchman - like a cut-price version of her own brother. Their base is a remote mountainside fortress, more like something from a James Bond movie than anything in the original series. Luckily the walls are made of wood, which comes in useful when it is dramatically appropriate.

    Lizbo also berates her journalist ex-lover, because he wants to write stories about her. She ignores the fact these stories will clear her name and help bring villains to justice.

  • Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, The
  • Girl Who Played With Fire, The
  • Girl Who kicked The Hornet's Nest, The
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  • Hunger Games Franchise

    Hunger Games (2012)

    Hunger Games (2012) Once upon a time, 13 colonies rebelled against their Government. The Colonies - err, districts - were defeated. The victors, Canada - err, Capital - instituted an annual TV reality show ( Running Man ) as punishment. Every year, a boy and girl from each District are put in a giant televised dome ( Truman Show ) where they hunt and kill each other. Sort of a Battle Royale - avec cheese!

    Katniss ( Jennifer Lawrence ) lives in poverty, in a rural district where food is scarce. This is in contrast to the country's Capital, which is Nouveau Georgian in style - all powdered wigs and face-paint (and that is just the men)! Capital controls the districts through their food supply; So where is the food actually created if not in the rural districts?

    Our heroine volunteers for the Hunger Games in her sister's place. She gets trained (supposedly) by Effie ( Elizabeth Banks ) and Haymitch (Woody Harrelson - Natural Born Killers ).

    The Great Dictator (Canadian actor Donald Sutherland - Don't look Now ) and his minions - Wes Bently ( Underworld 3 ), Stanley Tucci ( The Core ) and Toby Jones ( Your Highness ) can manipulate the games. The Dome is fitted with hard-light hologram projectors that can create a forest-fire or a horde of man-eating hounds. Unfortunately, despite this massive Holodeck (a dome several miles in diameter) they cannot be bothered to build food replicators to feed the starving. Yes, they may have circuses but not bread.

    The result is a mediocre effort. The cast is incredible, but that is because there was a huge budget. The problem is that the action scenes, the real core of the film, are ruined by shaky-cam.

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  • Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013)

    Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013) Just like in the first film, we spend the first half of the film in the setup. The Presidential Dictator (Canadian actor Donald Sutherland - Don't look Now ) is concerned that Katniss ( Jennifer Lawrence ), by prompting a change in the rules of the Games last year, is encouraging rebellion. The new gamesmaster, Philip Seymour Hoffman ( Mission Impossible 3 ), advises him that character assassination will be better than actual assassination. As a result, this year's Hunger Games will consist of the victors of the previous years' Games.

    We get to meet some of the other survivors of previous games. Some of them are potential allies, while others may become arch-rivals. Johanna ( Jenna Malone ) is near breaking point. Jeffrey Wright ( Casino Royale ) is a brainiac. Haymitch (Woody Harrelson - Natural Born Killers ) is still around to give Katniss advice. His scene at the end sets up the next film.

    It is nice to see action scenes that are not ruined by shaky-cam. Also, as Big Government cracks down on the rural poor we get a lot more of the political background to the series. The first movie was about survival, while this is more about resistance.

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  • Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 (2014)

    Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 (2014) Katniss and the others reach sanctuary in District 13. The President of 13 ( Julianne Moore ) needs the Victors of the Games as a propaganda tool. Katniss agrees, under certain conditions. Unfortunately the scripted lines they feed her are dreadful.

    Katniss spends most of the film in an underground bunker. There is a single action scene she is part of, where she uses a single arrow to shoot down TWO enemy fighter-bombers. Apart from that, the film relies mainly on suspense and tension as she watches other people take all the risks. As a result, some viewers feel that splitting the book was a mistake - presumably most of the action-adventure stuff happens in the second half. Some people regard this as being too thought-provoking and not explosive enough.

    District 13 have been stockpiling weapons, although these are presumably out-of-date compared to the Capital’s next-generation weaponry. However, the tactics employed by both sides seem unusually wasteful of manpower.

    The Capital is a massive mega-city with a holodeck several miles in diameter. This is powered by a hydro-electric power plant similar to the Hoover Dam. So what on earth do they need ten thousand hillbillies to mine coal for? And for every ten miners there are five guards to act as slave-drivers. This is a terrible waste of resources!

    District 13 has weaponry and trained soldiers, but they do not distribute them to the local Resistance movements like the SOE did in World War Two. Instead they rely on the revolting peasants to use human wave tactics, losing so many civilians that the villains run out of ammunition. So is District 13 any better than the Capital in terms of wasting human life?

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  • Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 (2015)

    Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 (2015) Katniss ( Jennifer Lawrence ) is reduced to a propaganda tool for the President of 13 ( Julianne Moore ). However, our heroine has a different plan. She makes her way to the frint line, where she is talked into joining a team of combat aces. Despite being the best of the best, their mission is not to go after enemy targets - merely to shoot more propaghanda footage. However, they must do this in a war zone, within the Capital itself.

    The Presidential Dictator (Canadian actor Donald Sutherland - Don't look Now ) uses his minion Robert Knepper (Prison Break) as a scapegoat for military failures. Then he gets the games-makers to weaponise their forcefield technology. Instead of repairing the mile-wide holodeck they create hundreds of replicators that function as boobytraps, creating deadly flame or oil to kill the approaching rebels.

    Katniss also has personal problems. Both her love interests are included in the propaganda team. Peeta (Josh Hutcherson - Bridge to Terabithia ) has been brainwashed by the villains, and Gaela (Chris Hemsworth - Expendables 2 ) is now too deeply integrated with the District 13 mindset for comfort.

    The gamesmaster, Philip Seymour Hoffman ( Mission Impossible 3 ) is missing from a couple of key scenes because the actor died during production. His loss is keenly felt, even though the film papers over his absence.

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  • Girls Kick Ass!

    The 355 (2022)

    The 355 (2021) Mace ( Jessica Chastain ) organises an international team of kick-ass women.

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  • Aeon Flux (2005)

    Aeon Flux (2005) Charlize Theron is the title character, a super-powered assassin in a futuristic city. The Government is a dictatorship, so she helps the rebels by bumping off hard targets. She is assigned to terminate The Chairman (rent-a-villain Marton Csokas - Kingdom of Heaven ). But she discovers that everything she believes is founded on a tissue of lies ...

    Aeon is pursued by the Rebels and the security forces. Can they escape alive?

    This is a mediocre Sci-Fi shoot'em-up. It is nice to see Theron in action (usually Milla Jovovich got this kind of work, although Angelina Jolie has done some action-girl flicks as well). Also, Csokas gets to show more depth and range than his usual snarling thug.

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  • Alita: Battle Angel (2019)

    Alita: Battle Angel (2019) This was written by James Cameron and directed by Robert Rodriguez , and has many of the hallmarks of their work. It features a strong female lead, and Latina actors in main roles. Not to mention massive amounts of CGI and green-screen, although it is perfectly blended with the live-action players.

    The story is set three hundred years after the Fall - an apocalyptic event that we later find out was caused by an interplanetary war. Now, the main city floats over a massive trash dump - like the Martian city in Mars Needs Moms . Worse, a slum city has grown up on the edge of the trash dump.

    One day a mechanic (Christoph Waltz - Green Hornet ) is scavenging on the trash pile when he discovers a disused android. Real Steel , anyone? This android resembles a young girl, so he patches her up and calls her Alita. She has amnesia, so she goes along with it.

    The slum is filled with full-body cyborgs. Some of them go full-on cyber-psycho, like Eiza Gonzales ). Others are targeted by thieves, because their cyber implants are valuable (like in Repo Men ).

    Alita signs up as a bounty-hunter, then tries to win the support of the others by insulting them and starting a bar-room brawl. So much for keeping a low profile. Brute force and ignorance seem to work, however.

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  • Anna (2019)

    Anna (2019) The story starts in 1985, when the KGB decides to warm up the Cold War. Luke Evans ( The Hobbit ) arrests a group of CIA agents, who then get made an example of. Yes, the KGB boss is not interested in Bridge of Spies swaps and he instead prefers to go full Smiert Spion.

    The story moves forward five years. Anna ( Sasha Luss ), a young woman from Moscow, is recruited to become a top international supermodel. She gets a new life in Paris, France.

    The story hops around again in time. This happens several more times, in order for double-crosses to be revealed. The movie makes allusions to russian dolls, with a new one always nested inside the others.

    Basically, at one point in the story Anna is recruited and trained as an assassin by Helen Mirren . If this all sound a bit familiar, it is ripped directly from La Femme Nikita . However, Luc Besson cannot sue - because he wrote and directed it!

    Anna fights like a female John Wick . The strange thing about it is that there are a couple of scenes where there are pistols lying around, but both she and her opponents fight with improvised melee weapons instead.

    All in all, this is a decent film. It is an updated Nikita with the style of Wick, but it covers much the same ground as Red Sparrow .

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  • Atomic Blonde (2017)

    Atomic Blonde (2017) The title character ( Charlize Theron ) is given a debriefing by Toby Jones ( Your Highness ). The result is an unnecessarily convoluted tale filled with nonsensical twists and double-crosses.

    The title character is basically a female James Bond. The brutal violence is like something out of Jason Bourne , but she also has the sex drive of 007. The last female action character who could compete with Bond in this area is Barbarella .

    The blonde is sent to West Berlin, where she is teamed up with the local British agent (James McAvoy - Wanted ). They team up against the KGB.

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  • Ava (2020)

    Ava (2020) Ava ( Jessica Chastain ) is a top international assassin.

  • 2000
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  • Becky (2020)

    Becky (2020) This starts with a bookend sequence as Becky ( Lulu Wilson ) gets debriefed by cops. We know that something very bad happened, and that she is covering up her culpability in it. The main storyline is told in extended flashback.

    Becky's father (Joel McHale - Spy Kids 4 ) took her to like in a Cabin in the Woods with her new stepmother ( Amanda Brugel ). Yes, the blended family storyline is reused from Four Kids And It .

    Their non-so-idyllic domestic situation is interrupted by the rude arrival of Dominick (Kevin James - Zookeeper ) and his gang, including Cole (Ryan McDonald - Fringe ). They are White Supremacists, so they occupy the same shorthand-for-pure-evil niche that the comanches filled in the John Wayne westerns, or that zombies and killer robots filled in dystopian scifi stories. That said, the actors do a great job - especially when you consider that they generally play good guys ... and they now play torturers and dog-killers.

    The white men just want a key, their mcguffin. In contrast, Becky's motivation is far darker. She is obsessed with revenge, and carries it out in a fashion that takes Home Alone to the level of a full-on torture porn horror movie.

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  • Breaking In (2018)

    Breaking In (2018) A woman takes her children to stay in an up-scale home fitted with CCTV cameras and a hidden safe. Unfortunately some crooks think the place is empty, and break in to steal some hidden loot. Yes, this is basically Panic Room . The big change is the race swap - Gabrielle Union is the female lead in place of Jodie Foster , and Billy Burke ( Revolution ) fills a role similar to that of Forest Whitaker ( Black Panther ).

    Basically this is a by-the-numbers thriller. The master villain does not have a team of Euro-thugs like in Die Hard . Instead, he had to recruit the dregs from the local county jail-house. One is a nervous rookie, another is a borderline psycho. Yes, all the archetypes are covered. Things go well until the Real Estate Agent ( Christa Miller ) turns up.

    In the fifteen years since the original room, it seems that there has not been much improvement in CCTV technology. The security system includes a small drone, but that is about the only update. Similarly, the protagonist has no military-style skills or gear. She has to fumble her way through the encounters, and relies more on luck than actual ability.

    The acting performances are decent, but the film is let down by its basic unoriginality.

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  • Charlie's Angels (2019)

    Charlie's Angels (2019) This is a hatefully bad movie, twisted far beyond what is normally found in the action thriller genre. What it does right is limited to about two things. One is the pairing of a male screenwriter with a female director, which in principle guarantees fifty percent representation for each gender at writer/director level. The second is the default casting of brunette women - for the protagonists, at least. If this had been extended into the villains, the result would be a stronger movie.

    The introductory once upon a time section, which used irony to contast the cliche of three little girls with the extreme competence of the strong female protagonists, has been ditched. Instead we get a video montage of young women playing a variety of outdoor pastimes. Yes, this bit is basically an advert for tampons.

    The main plot is a lot like the generic Mission: Predictable movies. The new client is a scientist ( Naomi Scott ) who works on a team that has invented a new energy source. This is the McGuffin that the Angels chase around Europe after. Since there are only two Angels, the scientist fills in for the third one.

    The scientist is a terrible employee, and the others are terrible human beings. They walk through this generic plot, leaving a trail of unnecessary corpses.

    Since Mission: Predictable always involves a betrayal, this follows the same trope. Old Bosley (Patrick Stewart - Star Trek: TNG ) has been forced into early retirement by Girl Bosley ( Elizabeth Banks ). She used to be an Angel, before she got promoted. Now we are reminded that at least one Angel was corrupt - see Charlie's Angels 2: Full Throttle . So is this movie deep enough to have a female villain, or is the term straight man synonymous with bad guy?

    The two McG movies, which are still part of this effort's backstory, got humour from comedic homages to famous motion pictures. In contrast, the Banks movie attempts humour through horrendous gender-based violence against men. There are multiple examples of a male character's death being so gruesome and undeserved that it far exceeds the karmic balance. We all recall the mediocre movie Jurassic World , and how the gratuitous death scene of Katie McGrath was called out as being excessive. In contrast, the mainstream has ignored many such similar scenes in this effort.

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  • Colombiana (2011)

    Colombiana (2011) This starts in Colombia, 1992. A gangster and his wife ( Cynthia Addai-Robinson ) are targeted by a hit-squad. Their daughter turns out to be a free-runner, and she easily evades the gun-toting adult men who chase her. Then she outsmarts the CIA, and gets to Chicago. Her Uncle (Cliff Curtis - Risen ) trains her as a world-class assassin, like in Leon .

    Fifteen years later, the girl has grown up to be Zoe Saldana . She may be the best assassin in the world, but she has a very nasty habit of grandstanding. Leaving a calling card is bad enough, but instead of killing a man with a single shot she takes out all his security team as well for no reason. This does not get her enemy's attention, she just gets herself targeted by FBI Agent Lennie James ( Walking Dead ).

    The arch-villain, the Colombian drug lord who killed her parents, is under witness relocation thanks to CIA Agent Callum Blue ( Dead like Me ). However, he still has his old death squad hanging around.

    This was directed by Olivier Megaton , and is basically a cliched shoot-em-up.

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  • Daughter of the Wolf (2019)

    Daughter of the Wolf (2019) This starts with a botched ransom handover that turns into a shootout. Gina Carano ends up in pursuit of Larson (Brendan Fehr - Roswell High ), one of the crew who kidnapped her son. She makes him lead her to the rest of the gang.

    The kidnappers are led by Father (Richard Dreyfuss - Jaws (1975) ). Unfortunately they can't shoot straight, and they are being stalked by a ravenous pack of man-eating wolves.

    The acting is not great - Dreyfuss chews the scenery, but Carano seems quite out of her depth. The setting worked better in a few Canadian thrillers starring Marie Avgeropolous . The storyline uses aspects from a couple of Liam Neeson films - the kidnapped offspring worked better in Taken and the wolves were a more effective presence in The Grey . As for the action scenes - the stunt doubles may outnumber the listed cast, but the fights themselves are unconvincing.

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  • Destroyer (2018)

    Destroyer (2018) Erin Bell ( Nicole Kidman ) is an LAPD detective.

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  • DOA: Dead Or Alive (2006)

    DOA: Dead Or Alive (2006) A trio of high-kicking kung-fu babes (Ninja Princess Devon Aoki , Texan wrestler Jamie Pressley and Australian cat-burglar Holly Valance ) are all invited by rollergirl Sarah Carter and suspiciously friendly Eric Roberts ( The Expendables ) to fight in a Mixed Martial-Arts tournament. Like in Mortal Kombat , without all the Otherworld stuff.

    Natassia Malthe is a Ninja sent to kill the Princess for abandoning the clan. The so-called Ninjas use Chinese skills, not Japanese ones, but this is not the kind of film to take seriously.

    The fights are well-shot and expertly choreographed, but it descends to typically OTT wire-fu. This was shot by a Hong Kong director on a Hollywood budget ...

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  • The Doorman (2020)

    The Doorman (2020) Ali ( Ruby Rose ) is a military combat veteran who gets hired for security in an apartment block.

  • 2000
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  • Everly (2015)

    Everly (2015) Everly ( Salma Hayek ) is a woman who spent four years as a sex slave of the Yakuza. Now, on the day she had planned to make her escape, her old boss sends his goons to attack her apartment. He even sends the other hookers, including Jennifer Blanc . However, Everly manages to take them all on single-handedly.

    Like all modern crime/action thrillers, this owes a lot to the works of Quentin Tarantino . It is basically Kill Bill made on the budget of Reservoir Dogs.

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  • Excessive Force 2: Force on Force (1995)

    Excessive Force 2: Force on Force (1995) This starts with a gangland assassination team get ambushed by a team of mercenaries. A homeless man sees one of the shooters, and the cops trace the shooter's tattoo to the US Navy Seals. When they report this to the US Military, a Special Forces operator named Bobbi ( Stacey Randall ) investigates.

    Bobbi is not a great investigator, since she tends to kill suspects rather than take them alive for interrogation. It turns out that she is not an NCIS agent, and instead just wants revenge on her former Special Forces unit.

    The result is a halfway decent movie. Considering it is a low-budget straight-to-video effort from the mid-nineties it is actually quite watchable. While there are no recognisable names in the cast, they acquit themselves well. The bad guys are actually fleshed out, rather than just being cardboard targets for the protagonist to knock down. Also, despite Bobbi and the others being proficient with martial arts the characters only go hand-to-hand as a last resort. Instead they do what real Navy Seals would do, and that is to go for a weapon at every opportunity.

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  • Fathom (1967)

    Fathom (1967) Fathom ( Raquel Welch ) is a woman skydiver.

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  • Ghost in the Shell (2017)

    Ghost in the Shell (2017) This is a completely unnecessary remake of a classic Manga cartoon. The story originates in Japan, but it is made in an era when the big Hollywood studios are attempting to open up the Chinese market. So who is the best person to play the lead role? The role is for an Asian female, but will the actress be Japanese or Chinese? Well ... it is the auburn-haired caucasian Scarlett Johannson ! Her sidekick is another caucasian - Pilou Asbaek ( Game of Thrones ). The only non-English speaker is the boss (Beat Takeshi - ), who talks in Japanese while everyone else responds to him in English.

    The film is intended to be shown to American audiences without subtitles. As a result it completely lacks subtlety. For example, when Johansson becomes a cyborg the doctor ( Juliette Binoche ) explains that her mind - the Ghost of the title - is in a shell-like robot body.

    The Major, a cyborg, is part of a police unit that runs a dystopian city. The villains are held to be bad people because they believe that the good of the many outweighs the good of the few. In contrast, the police kill suspects on sight and rarely take prisoners, so the issue of morality is irrelevant.

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  • A Good Woman Is Hard To Find (2019)

    A Good Woman Is Hard To Find (2019) A single mother ( Sarah Bolger ) living in a dodgy working-class neighbourhood is dragged into a drug-dealer's plot. The violence escalates, until she eventually goes on a murder spree.

    The problem is that this film lacks any kind of context. It is set in a working class neighbourhood in Belfast, which is an incredibly politicised environment. The truth is that this was written by a Dublin-based screenwriter, so it is basically a Dublin story that is only set in Belfast.

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  • Gunpowder Milkshake (2021)

    Gunpowder Milkshake (2021) Sam ( Karen Gillen ) is a hit-woman who works for The Firm. Her mother ( Lena Headey ) trained her as as assassin, then left town and abandoned her in the care of her boss Nathan (Paul Giamatti - Morgan ). While The Firm may be run by men, it turns out that the Assassins' Guild is run by women. Sam gets help from her mother's friends - Madeline the Librarian ( Carla Gugino ), Anna May ( Angela Bassett ) and Florence ( Michelle Yeoh ). The doctor, ironcally a traditionally female profession, is a man (Michael Smiley - A Field In England ).

    Sam messes up two assignments in one night. She kills the son of a rival gangster, Jim McAlester (Ralph Ineson - Hurricane Heist ). Then, she decides to make a ransom drop instead of a simple debt collection. While her intentions are pure, and she saves a young girl's life in the process, she can no longer count on the protection of her former bosses. Now she must go on the run with the girl, pursued by McAlester's nephew (Adam Nagaitis - The Terror ) and a couple of dozen expendable hitmen.

    The violence is so extreme that it might be called Tarantinoesque. However, Quentin Tarantino started with Reservoir Dogs - which used extreme violence in a way that shocked the audience. In contrast, the violence in this film is generally without consequences - it is comedic violence that is pretty much played for laughs. While it may seem to be a female version of John Wick , it owes more to the most recent version of Charlie's Angels (2019) .

    Rambo: Last Blood was called out because the protagonist basically wipes out the adult male population of a Mexican slum. In comparison, this movie kills all the Russian and Irish-American men ... yet it is portrayed as being good clean fun.

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  • Hanna (2011)

    Hanna (2011) Hanna ( Saoirse Ronan ) is raised in a snowy wilderness to be an expert warrior - like Conan the Barbarian . Being a girl, however, a better comparison might be to say that she was raised like Hit-Girl in Kick-Ass .

    Eric Bana has been living in secret off the grid, like he did in Hulk . But when Hanna is old enough, he sends her to kill his arch-enemy Cate Blanchett .

    This has elements of fairytales, with Hanna as a Little Red Riding Hood and Blanchett as a Wicked Witch. But Bana is an unstoppable killing machine in his own right, especially compared to the mediocre henchmen that Blanchett deploys, that the main battle is something of an anti-climax.

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  • Hannah's Law (2012)

    Hannah's Law (2012) This is a Canadian made-for-TV western directed by Rachel Talalay .

    Abeline, Texas in 1866. A young girl lives on a farm with her father (Cameron Bancroft - Codename Eternity ) and the rest of her family. Unfortunately the family are massacred by a gang led by a outlaw named McMurphy (John Pyper-Ferguson - Alphas ). McMurphy wears a Union Army cap, although since his gang includes a Native American he may just be a deserter.

    Ten years later the girl has grown up to become Sarah Canning . She earns a living as a bounty hunter, serving warrants made out by Wyatt Earp (Greyston Holt - Bitten ). There is a gambler in the local tavern who seems to be Doc Holliday, Which one is her love interest?

    Familiar faces include a powerful cattle baron (Billy Zane - Back to the Future ).

    There is a predictable subplot. The protagonist's foster father Isaac (Danny Glover - Age of Dragons ) is wanted for murder. Another bounty hunter comes to town in search of him.

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  • Haywire (2011)

    Haywire (2011) This is a modern 21st Century thriller, but it is closer in tone to the 1970s than the techno-thrillers of today. Mallory ( Gina Carano ) is a female Jason Bourne, on a roaring rampage of revenge, rather than a hi-tech James Bond. She is double-crossed and left for dead, as is typical in these things.

    Can the lead actress cut it? She is a Mixed Martial Arts cage-fighter, not a supermodel or Shakespearean thespian, but the script was written for her strengths. If The Rock can follow in Arnold Schwarzenegger's footsteps, why can a woman not do likewise? A look at the male action stars (Van Damme, Seagal, Lundgren, etc) shows a tendency towards athleticism over thespianism.

    Stephen Soderburgh delivers a lot of action, but the cast does not let up in terms of acting ability. Duplicitous characters include Michael Fassbender ( X-Men: First Class ), Ewan McGregor ( Star Wars: TPM ) and Antonio Banderas ( Mark of Zorro ).

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  • Hunt, The (2020)

    Hunt, The (2020) Yoga Pants ( Emma Roberts ), Staten Island (Ike Barinholtz - Suicide Squad (2015) ), Gary (Ethan Suplee - Mallrats (1995) ) and Crystal ( Betty Gilpin ) are a bunch of Trump-supporting deplorables who wake up in chains. It turns out that they have been abducted by Manorgate, a crew of rich liberals led by the mysterious Athena ( Hilary Swank ), who use the Trumpets as prey in The Most Dangerous Game .

    What the Manorgate team failed to realise is that Crystal is a highly-trained military veteran. She handles herself like a seasoned professional, and takes on everyone who she comes up against. Unfortunately she learns she cannot trust the obvious.

    This was quite controversial when it first came out, because it portrays the deplorables as sympathetic ... something which they themselves found offensive! In contrast, real-life liberals were able to laugh at a highly exaggerated portrayal of their own sensibilities.

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  • Hurricane Heist (2018)

    Hurricane Heist (2018) An American town is about to be flooded out by a major storm. Some robbers want to steal cash from the delivery van, and the only one who can save the federally insured money is a security guard. There is also a redneck sheriff giving people a hard time. Yes, the plot is Hard Rain (1998) and Maggie Grace is basically just the female Christian Slater.

    The action heroine is helped by a pair of redneck brothers - Toby Kebbell ( Bloodshot (2020) ) and Ryan Kwanten ( True Blood ). Despite their heavy Alabama accents, one is English and the other is Australian. Well, the film was mostly shot in Bulgaria so we are lucky they spoke the right language.

    The so-called villains seize the highly secure Federal depository with zero loss of life. All they want to do is steal some money that has been marked for destruction. In real life, the serial numbers would be recorded so it would be very difficult to use. Anyway, once the so-called heroine gets involved the body-count sky-rockets.

    The kill scenes are done in the spirit of the Hayes Code - people can get killed, but very rarely do we see them bleed. This kind of cartoonish approach to violence, where the true consequences are not shown on-screen, is typical of modern action movies.

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  • Jolt (2021)

    Jolt (2021) Jolt ( Kate Beckinsale ) is a woman with superhuman strength and a tendency to extreme rage. Basically, She-Hulk.

  • 2000
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  • Kitchen, The (2018)

    The Kitchen (2018) This is set in Hell's Kitchen, a working-class Irish-American community in New York. In the late 1970s a trio of gangsters are arrested by FBI Agent Common ( Run All Night ). Their wives step up to take over their crime rackets. Yes, this is like a poor copy of Widows (2018) .

    Each of the wives has their own story arc. The mother ( Melissa McCarthy ) has to cope without the father of her children. The battered wife ( Elizabeth Moss ) becomes lover and apprentice to a hitman (Domnall Gleason - Star Wars: The Force Awakens ). The most interesting story arc is of the black wife.

    This follows in the line of movies like Scarface (1981). However, that entire genre is about the rise and fall of the gangsters. Where this movie fails is that most of the female thugs do not face any real karmic justice for their misdeeds.

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  • Long Kiss Goodnight, The (1995)

    Long Kiss Goodnight, The (1995) Charley ( Geena Davis ) is a woman with amnesia, who lives in small-town America. Then she discovers she has a secret past, like Quaid in Total Recall .

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  • Lucy (2014)

    Lucy (2014) Scarlet Johannson is shanghaied (no pun intended) into delivering a mysterious briefcase to a gangster in Taiwan. Unfortunately, these gangsters have no concept of the word subtlety. They leave a lot of messy corpses all over the place, like a cannibalistic family of hillbillies in a clichéd horror movie.

    The McGuffin is a new drug that unlocks the human brain’s full potential. This was previously covered in the film Limitless , where the drug only increased intelligence. However, in this film the drug also gives the taker telepathy, then telekinesis … and finally turns them into a Star Trek creature of pure energy.

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  • Miss Bala (2019)

    Miss Bala (2019) A Latina make-up artiste ( Gina Rodriguez ) gets sick of working with Thomas Dekker ( Sarah Connor Chronicles ) in Los Angeles. She goes south to visit her friend in Baja California, which is over the border in Mexico. However, her trip takes a turn for the worse when she gets caught in a shootout between cops and gangsters.

    This is not a straight-up action thriller, more of a film noir. There is a crime, and the protagonist is implicated. She is blackmailed by both the gangsters and the DEA, so there is nobody she can turn to for help. Certainly not the local cops, who seem to be highly corrupt.

    One of the gangsters, the local Cartel boss, uses her to smuggle things to Anthony Mackie ( Captain America: Winter Soldier ) in the USA. The heroine learns to cover her tracks, by lying and framing people for her misdeeds.

    The climax is a shoot-out where she has to rescue her friend. Luckily, the Cartel boss taught her how to use an AR-15 rifle. Despite his attempts to bond with her, she is unhappy about the idea he may have lied to her. Yes, as if her part in their relationship involved complete honesty.

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  • Morgan (2016)

    Morgan (2016) Brian Cox sends a young female troubleshooter ( Kate Mara ) to investigate a robotic prototype that injured one of its creators. The robot, a girl they named Morgan ( Anya Taylor-Joy ), lives in a bunker in the grounds of a remote mansion. The mansion this was filmed at is in Northern Ireland, but it seems to be standing in for Canada. The scientists include a few familiar faces - Jennifer Jason Leigh, Michelle Yeoh, Rose Leslie .

    The film starts slowly, as we get to know a bit about each of the characters. This does not really make us care about any of them, because everything is so slow-moving that they just seem a bit boring. There is a certain amount of tension, however. That is because of the ever-present fear that this story might just be another Frankenstein story, the kind that every robot-based storyline usually turns into - one where the scientists are destroyed by their own creation.

    Things really start to happen with the arrival of the interrogator (Paul Giamatti - Shoot 'Em Up ). His scene-stealing, scenery-chewing performance really brings the show to life, and lets us realise exactly what is missing from the rest of the film. Unfortunately this is something of a high point. There are a few action scenes, including the compulsory car chase, but nothing in the original setup really led up to this.

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  • Old Guard, The (2020)

    Old Guard, The (2020) The main character ( Charlize Theron ) is the leader of a gang of centuries-old mercenaries.

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  • Peppermint (2018)

    Peppermint (2018) Riley North ( Jennifer Garner ) is the female version of The Punisher .

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  • Pimp (2018)

    Pimp (2018) This is the story of a female pimp ( Keke Palmer ). As with most gangster stories, it is not so much a case of rags-to-riches as it is a rise-and-fall.

    When our heroine tries to recruit a hot new girl ( Vanessa Morgan ), she falls foul of a dangerous rival pimp.

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  • Pixie (2020)

    Pixie (2020) Pixie ( Olivia Cooke ) is a tweenage femme fatale who manipulates a couple of idiots who rip off a gang of gun-toting Catholic priests led by Alec Baldwin ( Beetlejuice ). It all gets a bit complicated, and she ends up on the run with a couple of losers and a bag full of drugs. Pixie's stepfather (Colm Meaney - Star Trek: DS9 ), the top gangster in town, sends his best hitman (Ned Dennehy - ) after the fugitives.

    This is set in County Sligo in the West of Ireland, but none of the main cast seem to be from that town. In fact, it is a Northern Ireland Screen co-production so the indoor scenes were probably all shot in Belfast.

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  • Proud Mary (2018)

    Proud Mary (2018) Like most female-led action movies, this is named after the protagonist. The fact that Mary ( Taraji P. Henson ) is specified as being Proud is a reference to a Tina Turner song, thus marking this as a modern-day Blaxploitation movie.

    Henson previously played a freelance killer in Smoking Aces . This time she is an assassin who works for a Chicago crime syndicate run by Danny Glover ( Age of Dragons ). One of the killings she commits leaves a young boy orphaned. A year later, the boy is homeless and earns a crust by running errands for a rival gangster, Uncle (Xander Berkley - Barb Wire ). A shocking indictment of Child Protective Services and the foster-care system. Mary intervenes, and things get violent.

    It looks like things might boil over into all-out war with Uncle's gang. Mary needs a patsy, so she picks the black syndicate's token white man - her good buddy Walter (Neal McDonagh - Legends of Tomorrow ). He is implied to be of the same inclination as his character in Justified, but this is still a nasty move for a character to make.

    The gang war breaks out anyway. The Godfather has a small army of thugs and enforcer, but he prefers to use Mary as a one-woman army. After all, he trained her and his son as super-assassins. This is the old cliche, like Liam Neeson in Run All Night or Tom Hanks in Road To Perdition . In other words, this is a very old-fashioned kind of movie.

    In the climax, Mary's unofficial foster-son gets held hostage by her bosses. She must defeat her entire army of cow-orkers in order to save the boy. Obviously, this chevalric motive raises her above the generic hard-boiled revenge-motivated heroes of most film noir movies. However, sad to say this film really has nothing new or original to offer.

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  • The Quick And The Dead (1995)

    The Quick And The Dead (1995) The protagonist ( Sharon Stone ) is a gunfighter in the wild west.

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  • Red Sparrow (2018)

    Red Sparrow (2018) This is a star vehicle for Jennifer Lawrence , a capable actress who was boosted to super-stardom status. Since she made it directly after Passengers , a blockbuster that lost money because of a backlash against her casting in a reactive role, she is now cast in a far more active role.

    Lawrence is a Prima Ballerina in Moscow when she gets an injury that ends her career. This is when her character is established, as is the genre of the film. She seeks bloody revenge on those she holds responsible for her injury. Throughout the film, she follows the path of revenge. There is no character development, no learning of morality - the only thing she develops is her ability to destroy peoples' bodies and lives.

    The ex-Ballerina's uncle is Assistant Director of Russian Intelligence. He recruits her for undercover work, and sends her to a special school run by Charlotte Rampling . She is trained to seduce and destroy enemies of the state, like a female James Bond.

    Meanwhile, a CIA Agent (Joel Edgerton - Midnight Special (2015) ) is running a Mole in Moscow. Unfortunately Edgerton's tradecraft is sloppy: his pass-off is clumsy, and draws attention of local beat cops. Worse, he then panicks and then blows his cover. Yes, he is the worst CIA Agent ever. But he has to be, to make the ex-Ballerina look good.

    Finally, Lawrence is posted abroad with flat-mate Thekla Reuten , and ordered to seduce Edgerton in order to uncover the Mole. She tells him that she wants to defect, for some strange reason. Her logic is never realistically explained - however, she is obsessed with revenge for any imagined slight so perhaps it is best to see her as a manipulator akin to Catherine Tramell in Basic Instinct . Only without the glamourous sex scenes, of course. At its heart this is a grim and gritty revenge thriller, nothing more.

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  • Rhythm Section, The (2020)

    Rhythm Section, The (2020) This starts in Tangier, with Stephanie Patrick ( Blake Lively ) on a mission to assassinate someone. The rest of the story is in flashback.

    Stephanie is an English girl whose parents and siblings were killed in a plane crash. Since then, for the last three years, she has fallen on hard times - with addiction issues and a job as a low-end sex worker. A freelance journalist confronts her with his theory that the plane was destroyed by a terrorist's bomb. She sets out to track down and kill the terrorist cell.

    Stephanie is trained by an ex-MI6 agent named Boyd (Jude Law - AI: Artificial Intelligence ). This is a great sequence, developing the characters and their relationship. It is so much better than the other female-led action movie where Law played the heroine's mentor - Captain Marvel .

    Stephanie goes undercover as a freelance assassin named Petra, and gets involved with an underworld fixer named Serra (Sterling K Brown - The Predator (2019) ). For the right price, he will give her info on the terrorists ... and even find some high-paying wet-work for her to do.

    This is a revenge thriller, so there is no chivalry or glamour. The violence is brutal, and Stephanie takes a real beating a few times. Of course, as the protagonist she wins more than she loses.

    The main plot is about hunting down the mysterious mastermind behind the bombing - an Unknown Suspect known only as codename U17. The problem with this is that it is basically a whodunnit that has a very limited list of suspects. Not as bad as the MCU movies, which all have pretty much the same twist, but it still gets a bit predictable.

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  • Rogue (2020)

    Rogue (2020) The protagonist ( Megan Fox ) is a battle-hardened mercenary.

  • 2000
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  • Run Hide Fight (2021)

    Run Hide Fight (2021) The protagonist ( Isabel May ) is a High School girl in small-town USA. Her father (Thomas Jane - Punisher ) is a deer-hunter who taught her how to use a hunting rifle, but beyond that she has no special skills. As a result she is a compelling character that is relatable and sympathetic, unlike the two-dimensional Mary Sue protagonists in most contemporary female-led action movies.

    It is Senior Prank Day at High School, when the graduating class play practical jokes on the teachers. A handful of the pupils have taken it a step further, and hold half the school hostage at gunpoint. They have diversions to distract the Sheriff (Treat Williams - The Phantom ), so the girl is left to save the day. If anything, the most unbelievable aspect about it is the fact that the school staff apparently cannot hear the gunshots!

    This is the first movie by Ben Shapiro's production house, and it is nice to see that an indie movie is getting a wide release. While Shapiro is best known as a so-called Alt-Right figure, this movie focuses on entertainment rather than politics. The irony is that, with Shapiro's signing of Gina Carano , he might become the main Producer of female-led action movies.

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  • Salt (2010)

    Salt (2010) Evelyn Salt ( Angelina Jolie ) is a CIA Agent. She gets accused of being a mole, so she goes on the run to clear her name. Yes, the same plotline that Tom Cruise goes through in every Mission: Predictable movie. Ironically, Cruise apparently turned this movie down. Liev Shriver ( Scream ) is in charge of the (wo-)man hunt.

    When this came out, mainstream critics lauded it as the first female-led action movie. Of course, not only is this a slap in the face to fans of the Resident Evil franchise or the Underworld series, but it also ignores the fact that the female lead in this film had already starred in TWO Lara Croft movies!

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  • Survivor (2015)

    Survivor (2015) Kate Abbot ( Milla Jovovich ) is a security officer working at the US Embassy in London. When she investigates a visa application by a scientist named Balan (Roger Rees - Robin Hood: Men In Tights (1993) ), she discovers a disturbing pattern that may be linked to international terrorism. The obvious suspect is her boss, Bill Talbot (Robert Forster - ), but rather than report him she continues to blindly trust him.

    When Kate is out with Naomi Rosenbaum ( Antonia Thomas ) and her other cow-orkers, they are targeted by an aging hit-man known as the Watchmaker (Pierce Brosnan - Die Another Day (2002) ). When Kate escapes, she is blamed for the incident and labelled a terrorist. Yes, this is a generic Mission: Predictable plot about a spy who has been disavowed and must save the day by outsmarting their own Agency instead of just working within the system.

    MI5 Agent Paul Anderson (James D'Arcy - Agent Carter ) is after Kate, and US Ambassador Maureen Crane ( Angela Bassett ) gives him her express permission to kill Kate on sight. The only one who seems to believe Kate is Embassy security officer Sam Parker (Dylan McDermott - ). Of course, he might be a mole as well.

    In the third act, Kate starts to hunt the Watchman instead of the other way around. She has deduced that the plot involves a massive bomb in New York City, so she gets there and chases down the plotters.

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  • Ultraviolet (2006)

    Ultraviolet (2006) Violet ( Milla Jovovich ) is a vampiric assassin in a Utopian future. She uses her superpowers to challenge the dictatorship in a climax strangely reminiscent of the far superior Equilibrium . They share the same director, though Equilibrium's German locations made it authentic and menacing while in contrast Ultraviolet's over-reliance on CGI makes it look cartoonish.

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  • Widows (2018)

    Widows (2018) The movie starts with Liam Neeson ( Taken ) and John Bernthal ( Punisher ) conducting a heist. Their getaway ends badly when the Police SWAT team acts like a murder squad and shoots first rather than ask questions.

    The widows, Viola Davis and Michelle Rodriguez , must team up to complete the next heist their husbands had planned.

    The story has a subplot about the corruption of Chicago politics. The African-American candidate is a gangster who sends his henchman (Daniel Kaluga - Get Out! ) out to retrieve his stolen money by any means necessary. The rival candidate (Colin Farrell - Minority Report ), pushed into a political career by his overbearing father (Robert Duvall - ), is really not much better.

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  • Wildcat (2021)

    Wildcat (2021) Kat ( Georgina Campbell ) is a worker from the US Embassy in Iraq. She and a US Marine from her protection team have survived an ambush, which happened off-screen before the story starts, and they wake up as prisoners locked in a Jihadi's basement.

    Kat holds out under basic torture, while her Marine bodyguard takes far worse abuse. When confronted with the threat of sexual assault she cracks like a nut, although she chides the Marine when he also cracks in order to save her. Surprise, surprise - this was written and directed by a man. Perhaps if one of those roles had been performed by a female then this would be a bit more convincing.

    This is not a big-budget action movie - more like a theatre play adapted to the bog screen. There are two sets used, and less than a dozen actors. Since the violence mostly happens off-screen, Kat does not try to defeat her captors physically but instead tries to gather as much information about them as she can in order to use it against them.

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  • Zero Dark Thirty (2012)

    Zero Dark Thirty (2012) This is a true-life film about Maya ( Jessica Chastain ), a character based on a top CIA Agent. This movie follows her as she leads the hunt for Osama Bin Laden. Because it tries to stick to the real-life events, she does not perform any super-human action hero antics. Instead, the climactic shoot-out features US Navy Seals. The third act had to be re-shot, and this scene added, because real-life events caught up with the fictionalised version and Bin Laden's assassination took place before the movie's release.

    Kathryn Bigelow made this as the follow-up to her Oscar-winning Iraq War movie, Hurt Locker. That film has been said to be the beneficiary of the American Film Academy's antagonism to Bigelow's ex-husband, James Cameron , whose film Avatar was also up for many awards that year. In contrast, the Academy's members seem to have objected to this film's storyline and instead chose to award the Best Picture oscar to Ben Affleck's movie Argo . If they had been serious about the quality of Affleck's movie, he would have been nominated for the Best Director award. Although Argo is also a Hollywood take on a true-life story about the USA's involvement in Middle East politics, the Affleck movie showed Hollywood tricksters saving the day with non-violent means. In contrast, Bigelow's version depicted real-life CIA torture techniques.

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