I feel like we’re so focused at the fact that Deadpool is a good comedy (which is, indeed, rarer in superhero movies) that we forget that it’s also a pretty decent action flick. It starts with a slow-motion action sequence that manages to throw around a lot of metalinguistic references, it develops a very unique visual identity that’s become forever associated with the now-franchise, and it delivers the goods in an epic climax.
Deadpool’s muddled morality only adds to that in the sense that it makes the action more liberated to be bloody, playful and surprising. Any action movie that manages to work a slow motion half-animated romantic/comedic interjection in the middle of its climatic battle has our well-earned respect. Only this movie could properly make Ryan Reynolds into an action hero.
4. The Nice Guys
Shane Black’s action bona fides need no introduction. He wrote the first two Lethal Weapon films, plus The Monster Squad, Last Action Hero and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. In The Nice Guys, he dives head-first into a period piece about two private investigators going after what seems to be a pornography production company trying to erase every trace of a certain film ever being produced. It’s a 70s action film not only in setting, but also in feel.
It’s also hilarious, as Ryan Gosling delivers a bonkers performance and Russell Crowe gets to play straight man to his co-star. Their chemistry, plus the young Angourie Rice, is what makes The Nice Guys gold, but the crazy action set pieces don’t hurt either – Black creates the kind of mayhem Marvel didn’t let him delve into in Iron Man 3, and you can see he really flourishes as a director in it.
At almost 3 hours, Sultan is an epic in the classic sense of the word. It’s also one of the most affecting, visually stunning, inspiring and exciting Indian movies of the last decade or so. It follows two wrestlers, Sultan (Salman Khan) and Aarfa (Anushka Sharma), champions of the same region, who meet and eventually fall in love. Their romance is intertwined with their fights and their dreams of Olympic stardom.
Director/writer Ali Abbas Zafar treats every fight scene as an action sequence, and it works wonders. Nothing in the recent memory of the wrestling movie genre seems as artful and entertaining as Sultan, perhaps the ultimate proof that Bollywood cinema needs to get more international attention than it’s getting.
2. Blood Father
If you think Hacksaw Ridge is Mel Gibson’s 2016 comeback, think again. Before his war movie ever saw the light of day, Blood Father was collecting praise in festivals around the world. Jean-François Richet’s throwback B-movie madness is what makes it fun to watch the forever tainted Gibson as an ex-con reuniting with his 17-year-old daughter to protect her from drug dealers that’s out to kill her.
Gibson rejoices in the part’s moral grey areas, and Richet makes tremendous work of the gritty script, creating an unbelievable balancing act between dirt-stained action epic of the 70s-80s and earnest father-daughter drama. It works on both levels and, at 88 minutes, never wears the spectator out with its think guilty pleasure shtick.
1. Captain America: Civil War
Yes, we have Marvel in first place. The company’s films are just will-crushingly competent, you have to admit that. In Captain America: Civil War, they took their most efficient directors, the Russo brothers, and gave them their biggest sandbox yet – the result was a few spectacular action set pieces, especially of course the airport scene and Winter Soldier’s escape. They’re rewardingly physical and incredibly fun to watch, brilliantly edited and refreshingly shot with a clear perspective (no mind-dizzying handheld camera work here).
Besides those set pieces, however, Captain America: Civil War is also a pretty good film. Inspired by psychological thrillers (as they stated themselves), the Russo brothers created an affecting and well-structured superhero movie, with an engaging (if not very menacing) villain and cool character dynamics. It can’t help to feel like a well-oiled cog in the Marvel machine, but Civil War is also a rewarding experience in and on itself.
Author Bio: Caio Coletti is a Brazilian-born journalist, a proud poptimist, and has too many opinions to keep them all to himself.