Our Top Action and Thriller Films Releasing in 2016
Action movies this season wouldn’t be complete without a healthy serving of adrenaline pumping adventure in 2016. And barring the escapades of caped crusaders and superheroes, the year looks to thrive off CGI fuelled mayhem and sequel-itis. With return offerings from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014) and Now You See Me (2014), along with an abroad follow-up to Olympus Has Fallen (2013), the summer season will be filled per usual with the kind of popcorn entertainment that goes so well with hot weather.
As for the original entries, old world mythology gets its annual updating with Gods of Egypt, while the Warcraft video game series jumps to the big screen with a titular adaptation. Put in the odd place of having to combat semi-action superhero movies, standard action crime has spent the last decade in the rearview mirror of Batman and Iron Man – but that still won’t keep these entries from dropping big numbers at the box office. Here is our current list of some of the top action packed films this year.
Triple 9 – Release Date: February 19th 2016
Chris Allen (Casey Affleck) is a smart policeman with a bright future. Unfortunately, the crooked cops in his precinct don’t care about potential, they just need a distraction so they can rob millions of dollars in a risky high stakes heist. Allen, selected by officer Terrell Tompkins (Chiwetel Ejiofor) as the murder victim to draw away attention, has drawn the short straw. But Tompkins and his crooked crew (Kate Winslet, Anthony Mackie, Aaron Paul) aren’t far behind, as each of the cops are being blackmailed by the Russian mafia. 9-1-1 is for emergencies, but 9-9-9 is reserved for only one tragedy: an officer down.
London Has Fallen – Release Date: March 4th 2016
Taking place a few years after the savage attacks of 2013’s Olympus Has Fallen, Babak Najafi takes over directorial duties for Antoine Fuqua and shifts the plot from the U.S. to the U.K. This time, The British Prime Minister has died under mysterious circumstances, prompting a must-attend funeral for the leaders of the Western World. But this mourning quickly turns into an ambush, where only the efforts of President Benjamin Asher (Aaron Eckhart), Secret Service Agent Mike Banning (Gerard Butler), and a British MI6 Agent (Charlotte Riley) can save the day. Low concept, high energy, London Has Fallen will go down as one of the year’s most conventional action flicks.
The Brothers Grimsby – Release Date: March 4th 2016
True to its title, The Brothers Grimsby is about two siblings: covert black ops agent Sebastian Grimsby (Mark Strong) and football goofball Norman “Nobby” Grimsby (Sacha Baron Cohen). One is the deadliest assassin in MI6, and the other is a celebrity with a perfect life and beautiful girlfriend (Isla Fisher). But these worlds collide in hilarious ways when Sebastian is goes on the lamb, forcing Nobby into a rollicking world of hit-men and top secret organizations. Directed by Transporter creator Louis Leterrier, this biting satire on spy thrillers of the 60’s carries with it the classic Baron Cohen humor, who co-wrote Grimsby’s screenplay.
The Divergent Series: Allegiant – Release Date: March 18th 2016
Throughout it’s run as a young adult adventure, The Divergent series has been unable to escape the immediate shadow cast by The Hunger Games saga, both financially and critically. Through their striking similarities, Veronica Roth’s Divergent stories have translated to big box office numbers but little in the way of acclaim; especially compared to the perth of applause Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) drew in her first two films. But now, with that series concluded, the final Divergent adventure looks to capitalize as the only business in town. It helps that stars Shailene Woodley and Kate Winslet are good enough to make most anything believable, but with continued reliance on heavy CGI in the wake of stunt-laden extravaganzas like Mad Max and Star Wars, time will tell how much fans truly adore this series. And with franchise finale Ascendant hitting theaters next year, that time will come sooner than later.
Gods of Egypt – Release Date: April 8th 2016
It wouldn’t be an action movie list without at least one entry from the CGI Egyptian/Roman camp. Gods of Egypt mythically tells the tale of Set (Gerard Butler), God of Darkness who takes over the throne of the Egyptian Empire. Generations later, a mortal named Bek (Brenton Thwaites) aligns forces with the God Horus (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) in an effort to save the world from eternal evil. Bek is also courting slave girl Zaya (Courtney Eaton), whose life comes to hang in the balance as the battle between Horus and Set grow more severe. Overspilling with shiny set pieces and slow motion battles, Egypt will be a great primer for the summer season.
Hardcore Henry – Release Date: April 8th 2016
Video games, meet your movie match. Hardcore Henry is the brainchild of Ilya Naishuller, a Russian filmmaker who’s spent years funding and filming this sci-fi action movie that does what few films have ever been able to pull off: first person perspective. The story, regarding a resurrected super soldier who seeks the retribution of a warlord after he kidnaps his wife, merely provides the basis behind a 90 minute autopilot of cinema video games. Breathtaking stunts, wild action scenes, and shootouts all occur from this perspective, flashing not only an excitingly new cinema style, but an amazing showcase of technical skill on the part of Naishuller and cameraman Pasha Kapinos. As an action film, Hardcore has a breakneck gimmick that will float to the top of the heap when it comes to fanboys and and adrenaline junkies looking for something new. Who knows, this may be the film that bridges the eventual gap between videogames and movies down the line.
Criminal – Release Date: April 15th 2016
In a last ditch attempt to stop a ruthless plot against the government, a dead CIA agent has his skills, knowledge, and memories implanted into the mind former death row inmate (Kevin Costner), hoping he can save the day. It’s a classic over-the-top premise for the action genre, but director Ariel Vromen (2012’s The Iceman) has showcased his ability to make the ludicrous seem real in the past. Coupled with a spectacular cast that includes Costner, Tommy Lee Jones, Ryan Reynolds, Gary Oldman, and Gal Gadot, Criminal looks as it will cash in on the nostalgia of past greats and thrive in the pre-blockbuster arena of April.
Snowden – Release Date: May 13th 2016
From the politically probing mind of writer/director Oliver Stone comes Snowden, a biopic on one of modern media’s most controversial figures. Tracing Edward Snowden (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) from his beginnings as a Army Reserve candidate to his budding romance with Lindsay Mills (Shailene Woodley), the film, adapted from Luke Harding’s novel The Snowden Files, spares no expense in the shaping of an international whistleblower. This descent ultimately concludes with the famed information leak of hundreds of classified files to The Guardian in 2013. Snowden, hailed as both a hero and a menace throughout the free world, will continue to escape concrete judgement. But this film, touted to be one of the summer’s hottest dramas, might shine light on just how this man came to be.
The Nice Guys – Release Date: May 20th 2016
From the creative genius of writer/director Shane Black comes this newest serving of comedic film noir with The Nice Guys. Gruff enforcer Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe) and loser private eye Holland March (Ryan Gosling) are forced to partner up when hired by a government worker (Kim Basinger) to find her missing daughter. Naturally, everything that can go wrong does go wrong, leaving the odd couple to bash and shoot their way through the wildest case this side of 2014’s Inherent Vice. Black, who perfected the buddy movie with Lethal Weapon (1987) and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005), looks to have the most anticipated neo-noir of 2016.
Now You See Me 2 – Release Date: June 10th 2016
A year after the events of 2013’s magical heist thriller Now You See Me, Walter Tressler (Daniel Radcliffe), son of millionaire Arthur Tressler (Michael Caine), seeks revenge against “The Four Horsemen” who imprisoned his father. These Horsemen, consisting of trickster Danny Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg), mentalist Merritt McKinney (Woody Harrelson), con man Jack Wilde (Dave Franco), and mastermind Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo), have since gone M.I.A. and disappeared from the public eye. But Tressler’s expansive reach soon digs them up, resulting in another no holds barred display of magic and pulse pumping excitement. Now You See Me 2 will score big as one of the top action movies of the year.
Mechanic: Resurrection – Release Date: August 26th 2016
The sequel game continues to remain as strong as ever with this little slice of rough-edged action. Continuing where 2011’s The Mechanic left off, contract killer Arthur Bishop (Jason Statham) has gone into retirement after the death of his partner Steve McKenna (Ben Foster). But Bishop soon hits the warpath when an old enemy kidnaps his girl and forces him to complete three impossible assassinations around the world in order to get her back. Caught in between a personal vendetta and his job, Bishop is going to have to become the killer no one ever has in order to walk away clean. Mechanic: Resurrection will be completely predictable, falling in line with the hundred other Statham movies – but even then, the undeniable charm behind this grizzled Brit still carries some movie magic. More of a Redbox rental, but who are we to judge if this sparks a great time at the theater?
The Magnificent Seven – Release Date: September 23rd 2016
Remaking The Magnificent Seven is almost as sacrilegious as remaking Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai (1955) – which is exactly what director John Ford did when he made his 1960 classic. So while it may irk anyone who’s ever seen or even heard of the original, Antoine Fuqua’s upcoming remake has cast of actors that one can’t help but take seriously. A quick roll call of the titular seven includes Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Vincent D’Onofrio, and Ethan Hawke, not to mention guys like Matt Bomer (Magic Mike) and Peter Sarsgaard. The story is old as time, and brilliantly so, so there isn’t much to worry about in terms of content or acting; leaving the core concern behind this September release is whether it will live up to the two classics that preceded it. Such lofty heights are practically impossible to achieve, but even then, Fuqua’s splash of western flavor will be a much needed quench to a genre long considered dead.
The Accountant – Release Date: October 7th 2016
Ben Affleck has had a tumultuous history with thrillers. Several of his earlier efforts, namely The Sum of All Fears (2002) and Paycheck (2003), stand as pretty terrible examples of early 2000’s cinema. Luckily, for both Affleck and audiences, recent turns in The Town (2010) and Argo (2012) have proven far more entertaining, fixing the dazzlingly boring flaws that kept the other in mainstream purgatory. With all this in mind, it will be intriguing to see where The Accountant falls when it’s released October 7th. True, Affleck has improved immensely as a performer, but his best acting jobs have usually been under his own direction, a role that goes to Gavin O’Connor in this finance heavy cat-and-mouse game. Co-stars Anna Kendrick and J.K. Simmons are intriguing choices opposite the stern lead, and may tease something new out of an otherwise by-the-numbers crime drama. If so, then The Accountant may have some legs as one of the year’s best thrillers.
Jack Reacher: Never Go Back – Release Date: October 21st 2016
Like Ethan Hunt before him, Jack Reacher is a Tom Cruise character that refuses to stop, hence the Never Go Back subtitle of this sequel to the 2012 original. As to what Jack is up to this time is a mystery to any and all who hold interest, but the bottom line is this: it will consist of awesome action, a few clever lines, and a victorious trumping of the evil baddies. Cruise hasn’t changed up the formula in over four decades, but to his charismatic credit, there’s still a profound entertainment to watching him do the same thing over and over. Last year’s Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol still managed to squeak out some sinister thrills behind a sleek commercial package, and there’s no reason to think Cruise can’t strike again with this Jack Reacher adventure. As for whether the franchise will attempt to extend itself into a trilogy remains to be seen – all up to the action fans who pay good money to see the fifty something actor commit harder than most others in Hollywood.
Assassin’s Creed – Release Date: December 21st 2016
With the runaway success of the video game series, it was only a matter of time before studios came knocking for a piece of the Assassin’s Creed formula. And in keeping with the story’s steadfast simplicity, filmmaker Justin Kurzel is taking much of the visual fanciness that made last year’s Macbeth so impressive and adding a healthy dose of action packed icing. That spillovers don’t end there, either, as Macbeth actor and Oscar nominee Michael Fassbender is set to take the lead role of Callum Lynch, a descendent of the mysterious Assassins society. Once notified of this association, Lynch must embark on a harrowing mission to battle the powerful Templar organization – leading to bloodshed, stunt sequences, and plenty of awesome action. Creed won’t exactly reinvent the rulebook of onscreen fighting, but the high gloss blend of brutality is a winning combination that Kurzel has already shown a knack for. If done right, it could be the start of a lucrative franchise.