Jason Bourne (Paul Greengrass 2016)

56d01fb8b6_345x518_b1093cb7dfand so anyway it turns out that the best thing about Jason Bourne (2016) is not its relentlessly undistinguished blandness or its sheer breathtaking lack of any fucking reason to exist or to take up so much of my life, or that it gave me one last chance to pretend that Julia Stiles is really the daughter of Furious Styles, which is how she got the in to teach those ghetto kids ballet before becoming head of street dance at the CIA, no, the best thing about Jason Bourne is its completely unexpected, subtly crafted and cunningly layered self-reflexivity, which saw me drawn back into a franchise of which I have only the most fragmented and disconnected memories, starring Matt Damon, who has been drawn back into a franchise of which he has only the most fragmented and disconnected memories, playing a character who is drawn back into a life of which he has only the most fragmented and disconnected memories, and now you too are trying to remember what exactly happened in this franchise of which you have only most fragmented and disconnected memories…

The Legend of Tarzan (David Yates 2016)

tumblr_oaiqrwWVru1rkkyz2o1_1280and so anyway it turns out that the best thing about The Legend of Tarzan (2016) – apart, obviously, from the scantily-clad Alexander Skarsgård – is not that it represents big-budget Hollywood finally drawing attention to, and giving a nuanced, accurate and genuinely harrowing account of, King Leopold’s genocidal regime in the Congo Free State, which killed roughly ten percent of the population of all of Africa, because it doesn’t do that, nor is it Christopher Waltz’s feature-length audition tape for the role of Hercule Poirot’s evil twin brother in some awful modernising ‘reboot’ that no-one wants of a well-loved character that will undoubtedly be directed by Guy fucking Ritchie, no, the best thing about The Legend of Tarzan is that, terrible as it is, even with its genuinely well-intended but miserably inadequate revisionism, it still somehow manages not to be the worst Margot Robie film directed by someone called David I have seen this week…

Suicide Squad (David Ayer 2016)

suicidesquadheaderand so anyway it turns out that the best thing about Suicide Squad (Ayer 2016) is not that it reminds you of just quite how good – and subtle – a film The Dirty Dozen (Aldrich 1967) is but of just quite how good – and subtle – literally any and every other film you have ever seen is…

The Revenant (Alejandro González Iñárritu 2015)

The_Revenant_2015_film_posterand so anyway it turns out that the best thing about The Revenant (2015), Alejandro González Iñárritu’s bizarre picturesque slapstick epic of wilderness survival, in which beardy absurd terminator Leonardo DiCaprio repeatedly treads on the ends of rakes that slap him in the face as he – always out-bearded, always out-gurned – pursues Tom Hardy through Werner Herzog’s old stomping ground and a maze of try-hard-wannabe allusions to Tarkovsky, is not the indigenous-washing sequence in which Leo’s magical negro is played by a native American indian, nor is it the faithful historical reconstruction of a world without exposure, hypothermia or women, no, the very best thing about The Revenant is the sheer chutzpah of beginning with the line “It’s okay son… I know you want this to be over”…

Free Fire (Ben Wheatley 2017)

free-fireand so anyway it turns out that the best thing about Free Fire (2017), easily (though you might want to heed the ambivalence in this expression) the best men-with-guns-in-an-abandoned-factory movies since Walter Hill’s Trespass (1992), which I always somehow forget was written by the Bobs Gale and Zemeckis, probably because it is not a steaming pile of shit like the latter Bob’s films usually are, is not the sheer amount of talent (e.g., even Armie Hammer is good) visibly being frittered away on such a fundamentally frivolous project designed for teenage boys younger than the certificate, nor the occasional lines you are pretty sure you can hear Amy Jump insisting had to be in the script in order to preserve some measure of dignity, such as the 90 minute rule or Brie Larson’s exasperated ‘Men!’,  nor the fact that guns never need reloading until it becomes essential to the ‘plot’ that they do, nor even its nuanced and sensitive delineation of the Irish Republican struggle in the 1970s, no the very best thing about Free Fire is that everything would have been fine and dandy, and deadly violence would never have erupted, if Sam Riley hadn’t attempted to do an American accent, at least I think that’s what it was, I’m not sure, but whatever it was it made me want to shoot him, too…

xXx: Return of Xander Cage (DJ Caruso 2017)

xxx_return_of_xander_cage_film_poster-jpegand so anyway it turns out the best thing about xXx: Return of Xander Cage (2017) is not reminding people that when xXx (Rob Cohen 2002) first came out serious people seriously spoke about it seriously killing off the hopelessly moribund Bond franchise, seriously,[1] and being able to prove it by pointing to the film’s complex self-referentiality (well, the succession of innuendo so lame even Roger Moore would have questioned the wisdom of saying such things aloud), no, the best thing about xXx: Return of Xander Cage was seeing it in a cinema full of boys who were not alive when xXx came out and who were in fact so young that, when Ice Cube turns up for his cameo, they not only have no idea about xXx: State of the Union (Lee Tamahori 2005),[2] and thus of who Darius Stone is, but were also not actually all that clear on the identity of Cube himself, no, wait, the very best thing about xXx: Return of Xander Cage is having an audience of teenage boys turn around in unison and stare at you when Cube/Stone appears and you are the only person in the auditorium to let out a small involuntary cheer…

Notes
[1] But then Vin Diesel walked away from the franchise, and from the Fast and Furious franchise, to make the massively underrated but still a bit crappy Chronicles of Riddick (David Twohy 2004) and especially, and lest we forget, The Pacifier (Adam Shankman 2005).
[2] Aka, for non-US, audiences xXx: The Next Level.

Magic Mike XXL (Gregory Jacobs 2015)

magic-mike-xxl-poster-01and so anyway it turns out that the best thing about Magic Mike XXL (2015) is not that it has a credit for ‘tool manager’, though it does, nor that, thanks to a too-tight posing pouch, we finally get a glimpse of Channing Tatum’s wagging little doggie tail, but that in this post-truth era of alternative facts someone bothered to keep a full and accurate record of the great shirt drought of ought ’15…