8) Taken 3, 20th Century Fox
With Taken 3, director Olivier Megaton (Taken 2) continues to demolish a franchise that should only ever have existed as a single (great) movie. Liam Neeson (Non-Stop) is solid in the lead as Bryan Mills, but the story is laughable and the tension is completely non-existent this time around. Forest Whitaker (The Butler) and Maggie Grace (Lost) are given thankless supporting roles, and there’s nothing memorable about any of the film’s villains. Make no mistake, this is nothing more than a shameless cash-grab.
7) Blackhat, Universal/Legendary
Michael Mann’s latest directorial effort pales in comparison to his previous work. It’s hard to believe that the same man was the mind behind Collateral or Heat. Overlong and at times incredibly tedious, Blackhat is too slow to work as an action thriller, and too ridiculous to succeed as a tech-based conspiracy drama. It’s full of one-dimensional characters and is undermined by a weak plot. Chris Hemsworth (Thor) is solid if unspectacular, while the talented Viola Davis (The Help) is criminally wasted.
6) Wild Card, Lionsgate
Wild Card is disjointed, poorly paced and, on the whole, a bit of a mess, but it does have it’s moments. While Jason Statham‘s role doesn’t require much outside of his usual range, he at least provides some solid chemistry with Michael Angarano (Sky High). On its surface, Simon West‘s (Con Air) film is glossy and appealing, but there’s very little substance to go along with the garbled story. The end product feels like a jumbled mix of brainless action flick meets introspective crime tale – it’s not the best combination.
5) Mortdecai, Lionsgate
Utterly daft and exceedingly moronic, David Koepp‘s Mortdecai is evidently not for anyone with half-a-brain. But for the rest of us, it still somehow manages to make you chuckle – simply through its sheer idiocy. Critics may have eviscerated it, but Johnny Depp‘s (Transcendence) clueless leading turn has a ‘Johnny English’-like quality to it, while he shares some entertaining chemistry with both Paul Bettany (Avengers: Age Of Ultron) & Ewan McGregor (Trainspotting). It’s a very guilty pleasure.
4) The Loft, Open Road
Burdened by a ridiculous plot and populated by sleazy, reprehensible characters, The Loft is never going to be considered a classic. However, Erik Van Looy‘s film still boasts an interesting mystery aspect that keeps you guessing for a while – until things start to spin out of control. The cinematography is slick, while leads James Marsden (X-Men) and Karl Urban (Dredd) try their best to redeem the film’s flaws (of which, there are an unfortunate amount). It doesn’t help that everyone in this movie is a total asshole though.
3) The Wedding Ringer, Screen Gems
Silly, generic and at times unapologetically crude, there’s very little unique about The Wedding Ringer. However, were is fails in originality, it makes up for it in laughter and sentimentality. The chemistry between Josh Gad (Frozen) & Kevin Hart (Ride Along) is excellent, while there are some scene-stealing moments from Aaron Takahashi (Yes Man) and Olivia Thirlby (Juno). Sadly, Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting (TBBT) phones it in, and the plot is far from exceptional – but there’s still lots to enjoy here.
2) Predestination, Vertical
Mind-bendingly thrilling, Predestination is almost certain to leave you baffled by the time the credits roll. The Spierig Brothers‘ paradoxical script works as both a blessing and a curse – as the twists and turns grow very hard to follow. However, the performances are consistently great. Ethan Hawke (Boyhood) shines as the troubled protagonist, while Noah Taylor (Vanilla Sky) is as solid as ever in support – but it’s Sarah Snook (Jessabelle) who steals the show with an emotional turn that tugs at the heartstrings.
1) Ex Machina, Universal/A24
Alex Garland‘s (28 Days Later) artificial intelligence project is thoughtful, gripping and masterfully intense. Ex Machina has all the correct elements of a Kubrickian sci-fi/ thriller. Deviously clever and visually stunning, this is a movie with both style and substance. It’s buoyed by a trio of fantastic lead performances: from Oscar Isaac‘s (Inside Llewyn Davis) sinister ‘Nathan’, to Domhnall Gleeson‘s (About Time) quietly intuitive ‘Caleb’ – to Alicia Vikander‘s (Seventh Son) bold and beguiling ‘Ava’.