New movies are always exciting. You see the trailers and the TV spots and the press releases and the cast interviews and all of the things that have been tailored to make you excited to see the movie by the publicists and the PR team and the marketing department of the studio. This is all so that you’ll get off your ass when it’s in the theaters and go and buy yourself a ticket, therefore putting money in their fatcat pockets. It’s all a business. But of course, some upcoming movies are a lot more exciting than others. The premise and the plot and the characters all have to intrigue you. There has to be a hook. You have to like the actors who are in it and the director and you have to be able to relate to it or identify with it in some way. There are all of these factors to consider. It could be argued that action movies are the most exciting kind, especially when you’ve got nothing but trailers to go by. A trailer can simply be filled with car chases, foot chases, explosions, shootouts – that’ll be enough to get you hooked. So, anyway, here are the 15 most exciting action movies coming out in the next year.
15. Tomb Raider
The last time someone tried to turn the Tomb Raider video games into a movie, we had that Angelina Jolie travesty and its sequel, but this one should be different. This is not the old, male gaze-pleasing Lara Croft. This is the new, rebooted, feminist Lara Croft. She’s still a badass, but she’s allowed to wear more clothes, and that goes a long way. Hopefully this new movie can finally translate the ultimate female action hero of the video game world to being the ultimate female action hero on the big screen successfully. Oscar-winning Ex Machina star Alicia Vikander is taking on the role of Lara Croft, while Jimmy McNulty himself Dominic West, Vice Principals’ criminally underrated star Walton Goggins, Kristin Scott Thomas, Daniel Wu from Into the Badlands, and Nick Frost flesh out the supporting cast. Should be good.
In Skyscraper, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson will be reteaming with his Central Intelligence director Rawson Marshall Thurber for an action thriller about an ex-FBI agent who is framed for a crime he didn’t commit and then has to save his family from a fire that is engulfing the tallest building in the world. Those are certainly some high stakes, right? Oh, and by the way, the crime that he’s been framed for is starting the fire. That’s how that all links together. So, he has to find a way to somehow clear his name of a fire in a skyscraper, while he’s in the skyscraper, rescuing his family from the fire. Whichever way the filmmakers try to make that make sense, it’ll definitely be exciting.
Ever wonder what True Detective creator Nic Pizzolatto has been up to in the years between the second and third seasons of the show? Well, he’s been busy writing the screenplay for the action thriller Galveston, the fruits of which we’ll be seeing when it’s released later this year. He adapted the script from his own novel of the same name, which tells the story of a dying hitman who is set up and lays low in his hometown, the titular Galveston, as he plots his revenge. Actress Mélanie Laurent from Inglourious Basterds and Now You See Me is getting into the director’s chair for this movie, which will star Elle Fanning and Ben Foster, and should be good. This one blends action with the slick style of the film noir.
Primal will star the great, underappreciated Nicolas Cage in the kind of wacky, high concept action movie that he made in the ‘90s, like The Rock or Face/Off. The official summary of the premise on IMDb reads thus: “A big game hunter for zoos who has booked passage on a Greek shipping freighter with a fresh haul of exotic and deadly animals from the Amazon, including a rare white Jaguar – along with a political assassin being extradited to the U.S. in secret. Two days into the journey, the assassin escapes and releases the captive animals, throwing the ship into chaos.” Imagine that! Nic Cage on a ship in the middle of the ocean, as a bunch of pissed-off wild animals run riot? It’s going to be awesome!
11. Hard Powder
Liam Neeson is continuing his string of badass geriatric action movies – Taken, The Grey, Non-Stop, Run All Night, The Commuter – this year with Hard Powder, where he will be playing a snow plow driver who seeks revenge against a gang of drug dealers who he believes to have killed his son. A Liam Neeson action movie is always something to get excited about, and this one at least seems to have an original premise. The Commuter was pretty much just Non-Stop, but on a train instead of a plane (next, Neeson will be seeking a mysterious bad guy on an automobile). The idea of Neeson seeking parental vengeance in a gritty thriller is particularly sumptuous, as it sounds an awful lot like his crowning achievement: Taken!
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is teaming back up with Brad Peyton, the director of Journey 2: The Mysterious Island and San Andreas, for a movie that is set to be their most outrageous yet (yes, even more outrageous than Journey 2: The Mysterious Island and San Andreas). Rampage is an adaptation of a cheesy ‘80s arcade game about a giant gorilla, a giant wolf, and a giant crocodile doing battle, destroying cities, while Johnson’s primatologist character Davis Okoye struggles to contain the situation. Peyton promises the movie will be “a lot more emotional, a lot scarier, and a lot more real than you’d expect.” You can see from the trailer that Rampage is wearing its ridiculousness as a badge of honor and really leaning into it, and that’ll make it a success.
9. Escape Plan 2: Hades
The 2013 movie Escape Plan paired up Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger for, more or less, the first time ever since they emerged as the biggest action movie stars in the world throughout the 1980s. It saw them trying to break out of a hi-tech prison after Stallone is mistakenly locked up there by some bad apples. Unfortunately, we’ve lost Arnie for the sequel, but Dave Bautista’s in, and they’ve also been shooting Escape Plan 3 back to back with the second one. Oddly enough, the plot of Escape Plan 2 is being kept a secret, but the plot of Escape Plan 3 has been revealed in detail. According to a Deadline report, “In this installment, Ray Breslin (Stallone) and Trent DeRosa (Bautista) must join forces again in order to rescue one of their team members who is held captive at the penitentiary known as Devil’s Station, a prison where no one ever gets out.”
8. Dragged Across Concrete
Bone Tomahawk and Brawl in Cell Block 99 writer-director S. Craig Zahler is already working on his next movie: hardcore, badass, violent action thriller Dragged Across Concrete. He’s assembled an awesome cast that includes Mel Gibson, Vince Vaughn, Dexter’s Jennifer Carpenter, and The Walking Dead’s Laurie Holden. The premise as described on IMDb makes it sounds really exciting: “Once two overzealous cops get suspended from the force, they must delve into the criminal underworld to get their just due.” The film will reunite Zahler and Vaughn, who worked together on the great Brawl in Cell Block 99, as well as Vaughn and Gibson, who worked together on the WWII masterpiece Hacksaw Ridge, and it will likely be jam packed with Zahler’s signature aestheticized graphic violence.
7. Angel Has Fallen
Benjamin Asher has to be the unluckiest U.S. President of all time. First, in Olympus Has Fallen, he had his White House invaded by terrorists. Then, in London Has Fallen, he was kidnapped by an ISIS-like group and damn near beheaded in front of the entire world. Now, in Angel Has Fallen, he’ll be on board Air Force One when terrorists take him hostage. Luckily, those first two times, Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) has been there to save him, and he’ll be there to save him again, a third time around, later this year when Angel Has Fallen is released into theaters. Also, this time, Jada Pinkett Smith and Tim Blake Nelson have joined the cast. Butler has described the movie as the Logan of the Has Fallen series: “[Angel Has Fallen] is more like The Fugitive. It’s our version of Logan – what that was to Wolverine, that’s to this…It’s going to be really surprising and visceral.” Cool.
6. The Predator
So, they might finally be making a sequel to Predator that is worthy of the original. The first one is a stone cold classic of the action genre (and the sci-fi and horror genres, but mostly action), as it starred Arnold Schwarzenegger, Carl Weathers, Jesse “The Body” Ventura, and a bunch of other muscle-bound men who are hunted by a ruthless alien creature out in the jungle. It was followed by a crummy sequel in an urban setting and a crummy reboot that took it back to the jungle setting. The plot of this new one is being kept under wraps, but the brilliant Shane Black of The Nice Guys is behind the camera. Black also appeared in the first movie as an actor (and, some suspect, an undercover director to keep an eye on the then-inexperienced John McTiernan), so he knows what he’s doing.
5. Death Wish
In Eli Roth’s Death Wish remake, Bruce Willis will be playing the role of vigilante Paul Kersey, chosen from a shortlist that also included Brad Pitt, Russell Crowe, Matt Damon, and Will Smith. Hollywood has been trying to do a Death Wish remake for years, and it finally came together for a release this March. The original Paul Kersey played by Charles Bronson in 1974 was an architect in New York, while Willis’ will be a doctor in Chicago, but other than that, the premise is the same – an average joe’s wife is murdered and his daughter is sexually assaulted, so he decides to become a vigilante and take on the criminals that did it. The original is a gripping revenge thriller, and it looks as though the remake will be, too.
4. The Equalizer 2
Remember a couple of years ago, when Denzel Washington starred as the iconic hired gun Robert McCall in a movie version of the classic TV show The Equalizer? Well, this August, the sequel is coming out. Director Antoine Fuqua and screenwriter Richard Wenk are back shaping the film’s story, style, and look, while Washington will be back in front of the camera in the lead role. Chloe Grace Moretz is out as the young character that McCall takes under his wing – she’ll be replaced by Moonlight actor Ashton Sanders. On his decision to direct a sequel to The Equalizer, when he previously opted out of directing his previous film Olympus Has Fallen and has never directed a sequel before, Fuqua said, “There’s room for development and evolution.”
3. The Meg
Despite its silly-sounding title, The Meg is set to be a stunning, terrifying, action-packed thrill-ride. It stars Jason Statham as a man who takes on a gigantic great white shark (like, prehistoric-sized – literally 70 feet long) that threatens a bunch of Chinese scientists, deep under the surface of the ocean. The title The Meg comes from the name of the shark species, the Carcharocles megalodon (which roughly translates as “big tooth,” aptly). Of course, the Chinese setting diverts from the original script (and the novel it’s based on, Meg: A Novel of Deep Terror) so that the movie can cash in on the lucrative Chinese film market, but other than that, this will not be a by-the-numbers cash grab. It’s a labor of love by director Jon Turteltaub, the director of National Treasure and The Sorceror’s Apprentice, who will be using The Meg to venture into darker and more mature territory than he’s ever been in before.
2. Mission: Impossible – Fallout
After a first three mediocre spy movies, the Mission: Impossible series has been on a roll recently. The fourth and fifth M:I movies both kicked ass: the fourth one, Ghost Protocol, saw Tom Cruise hanging off the side of the Burj Khalifa (the tallest building in the world), while the fifth, Rogue Nation, saw him hanging off the side of a plane. Cruise goes a little nuts with the stunts in these movies, and in the sixth one – recently revealed to be titled Fallout – it looks as though he’ll be hanging off the side of a helicopter. Fallout will be different. It will focus on a nuclear threat (hence the title), but it won’t follow the same simple espionage plot that the other movies have, because Michelle Monaghan is back as Ethan Hunt’s estranged wife. Also, with this movie, Christopher McQuarrie will become the first director to helm two movies in the M:I franchise, so he’s clearly pretty committed.
1. Black Panther
Black Panther is set to be Marvel’s answer to Wonder Woman, in that it provides representation and empowerment to a marginalized group and is being touted as the greatest movie in its comic book universe. But the thing is, Wonder Woman didn’t have all that much to live up to. It had Man of Steel, Batman v Superman, and Suicide Squad. The benchmark wasn’t very high. But the benchmark most certainly is high for Black Panther. It has to live up to The Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and Spider-Man: Homecoming – and it looks like it just might. Plus, it is projected to increase interest in science and technology among young black Americans in the same way that The Hunger Games got girls interested in archery. It’s from the director of Fruitvale Station and Creed, Ryan Coogler, who has made it his business to provide Hollywood with an African American voice, and being set in Africa, it could finally fix the problem in Hollywood of a lack of representation (specifically accurate representation) for Africa and its people. Basically, it’ll be an all-round awesome, important, powerful, moving, action extravaganza.