If you are a fan of action movies, 2016 is shaping up to be a pretty good year. Already, we’ve seen Deadpool, London Has Fallen, Triple 9, 13 Hours, and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: The Sword of Destiny, and we’re not yet ninety days into the year yet.
The following sixteen films are the hottest action/adventure films still to come this year. Full of superheroes, alien invasions, monster attacks, and even a first-person shoot-em-up, the movies listed here will have you hopped up on explosions, high-fiving the strangers next to you in the theater, and maybe even chanting “U-S-A! U-S-A!” So, buckle your seatbelts, hombres, and blast into the 16 Most Anticipated Action Movies of 2016.
16 10 Cloverfield Lane (3/11/16)
In 2008, J.J. Abrams produced Cloverfield, a film that was basically a found-footage Godzilla. It was an unconventional action film in that it was generally better received by critics than by audiences. With its very slow reveal of the monsters and lots of running and screaming and handing-off of the filming duties between characters, Cloverfield was not an easy film for the masses to love, but once viewers got to the end, they felt like they had been a part of the action in a way that is difficult to capture.
10 Cloverfield Lane, by contrast, appears to be a more traditional action/horror movie. Starring John Goodman (The Big Lebowski) and Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Scott Pilgrim vs. The World), it combines Brie Larson's Room with The Twilight Zone — and you can be sure that this time, you’ll get to see the monster.
15 Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice (3/25/16)
You could be forgiven if you haven’t heard of Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. This art-house flick has squeaked by with nary a word. If, of course, you live on Mars. In a cave. Under an ice cap. In 1984.
In what is sure to be one of the biggest films of the year, the Caped Crusader takes on the Last Son of Krypton in DC’s strongest effort to strike back at Marvel’s success at the box office. On the heels of the events depicted in Man of Steel, which featured about seven reels of Kryptonians throwing each other through the skyline of Metropolis, Batman decides Earth can fend for itself, and takes it on himself to take out the space-trash. Featuring the debut of Ben Affleck as Batman, Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor, Jeremy Irons as Alfred Pennyworth, and Jason “Khal Drogo” Momoa as Aquaman, Dawn of Justice will endeavor to prove that Affleck learned a thing or two about lurking in the dark since his disastrous turn as the titular hero in 2003’s Daredevil.
14 Hardcore Henry (4/7/16)
Did you like playing Wolfenstein 3D back in 1995? How about watching all of those first-person GoPro parkour videos permeating YouTube a few years back? If so, Hardcore Henry is the film for you.
Ambitiously shot entirely from a first-person POV, Hardcore Henry has the look and feel of a highly cinematic video game. From the two pistols held straight out in front, to the camera shaking side-to-side to indicate a “no,” this film puts the audience into the protagonist's shoes in a way no film before it has ever done. While even the plot sounds a bit game-like (a man with no memory must find a way to rescue the love of his life from a bad guy who stole her but isn’t named Mario?!), this ambitious bit of film-making could very well be at least a novelty hit at the box office.
13 Captain America: Civil War (5/6/16)
Not to be outdone by its longtime rival DC, Marvel begins phase 3 of its Cinematic Universe with the mega-blockbuster Captain America: Civil War. While technically a solo adventure for Cap, this film could just as well have been called Avengers 3.
Not only will this film feature the breakup of the original Avengers, pitting Captain America and his pals against Iron Man and his besties, it will also introduce a Black Panther and Spider Man to the MCU, with solo films for each character coming in the near future. There's also a rumored debut appearance from Benedict Cumberbatch’s Doctor Strange, and the internet is abuzz with gossip about the possible death of one or more major characters. With so much happening, the film comes it at just over 140 minutes, by far the longest of the Marvel movies to date.
12 X-Men: Apocalypse (5/27/16)
If, by the end of May you are still hungering for more superhero movies, you will be in luck when X-Men: Apocalypse releases. The third entry in the prequel films, Bryan Singer's fourth mutant adventure promises to be the most ambitious movie in the venerable franchise.
It appears that the first mutant, En Sabah Nur (played by Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ Oscar Isaac), has awoken in the 1980s, and boy is he pissed. Gathering the powers of other mutants to himself, En Sabah Nur assumes the mantle of Apocalypse, and enlists Storm (Alexandra Shipp), Magneto (Michael Fassbender), Psylocke (Olivia Munn), and Angel (Ben Hardy) as his own Four Horsemen to cleanse the world of the weak. The film introduces Sophie Turner (Game of Thrones’ Sansa Stark) as Jean Grey and brings back its already star-studded cast. While still not actually woven into the MCU, true fans will be looking out for a Spider-Man-like character crossover to see if perhaps there is room for this band of mutants in MCU Phase 3 or later.
11 TMNT: Out of the Shadows (6/3/16)
The Heroes in a Half-Shell make their sophomore entry into the live-action arena (well, in this century anyway) in June. With the return of these adolescent amphibians will likely come the return of nightmares for those of us who were terrified by the CGI versions of the animated ninjas back in 2014 when they made their debut.
Still, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which was based on a humble comic book originally penned in quaint Northampton, Massachusetts, grossed nearly $500 Million on a $143 Million budget. Given the success of the franchise over nearly thirty years, it’s hard to see how this new installment won’t have its producers shouting “Cowabunga!” all the way to the bank.
10 Independence Day: Resurgence (6/24/16)
Twenty-one years ago, Jeff Goldblum, Will Smith, Bill Pullman, Randy Quaid, and Mary McDonnell celebrated the Fourth of July by shooting American missiles right into the wormholes of an invading alien armada.
Now, in a mashup of the immortal words of Arnold Schwarzenegger that girl from Poltergeist, “They’re Baaaaaaaa-aaack,” the aliens have returned to pick up where they left off: blowing up the White House, and enslaving hardworking Americans everywhere. Replacing Will Smith are newcomers Charlotte Gainsbourg (Antichrist), Australian Benedict Cumberbatch Liam Hemsworth (The Hunger Games), and Maika Monroe (It Follows). While the trailer met with some original skepticism, buzz is picking up for what’s certain to be the summer blockbuster with the most explosions.
9 Star Trek: Beyond (7/22/16)
Independent film auteur J. J. Abrams hung up his director’s chair for this installment of the revered series, handing the reins over to Justin Lin--best known for directing several installments of the Fast and the Furious franchise.
Like Independence Day: Resurgence, the first trailer took some of the wind out of the sails of this movie, with star and co-writer Simon Pegg begging audiences to look past the teaser for a film that was more thoughtful than the cliched action-film footage implied. This film sees Kirk (Chris Pine), Spock (Zachary Quinto), and the rest of the crew of the Enterprise embarking on their first five-year journey where no one has gone before. They encounter the first new villain of the alternate timeline: Idris Elba’s Krall, destroy the ship, and don snazzy new uniforms. Beam us up, Scotty, because despite the buzz, we’re all going to see it.
8 Jason Bourne (7/29/16)
We’ve finally come to the point in Matt Damon’s life where he is old enough to play Jason Bourne. In the books, Bourne is a 40-ish man who loses his memory but retains his ability to be very punch-and-kick happy while working to uncover his past. The film franchise is only very loosely based on the books, and the films always did better among those who had not read them.
After sitting the last Jason Bourne movie out in favor of Jeremy Renner playing a different assassin in the same world in 2012’s The Bourne Legacy. While Damon’s return to the franchise has left Renner’s Bourne films future murky, moviegoers will be excited to see the blonde Bostonian resume the mantle of America’s most forgetful superspy.
7 Suicide Squad (8/5/16)
In a typical display of governmental genius, a bureaucrat forms an elite squad of supervillains to undertake black-ops missions in exchange for leniency in sentencing. What could go wrong?
Right on the wake of Dawn of Justice, Suicide Squad will mark Affleck’s second appearance as Batman-but by all advance accounts it’s Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn who steals the show. Also introducing their evil to the DC Extended Universe are Will Smith as Deadshot, Jared Leto in a striking new take on The Joker, Viola Davis as squad founder Amanda Waller, for some reason Jai Courtney as Boomerang (seriously, can we be done with this guy yet?), and a number of other talented actors in despicable roles. While Dawn of Justice is the main course for DC comic book fans this supper, Suicide Squad promises to be the after dinner absinthe your weird neighbor smuggled back from Romania-sickly sweet, ice cold, and mind-bending.
6 Mechanic: Resurrection (8/26/16)
Mechanic: Resurrection picks up where The Mechanic left off. Statham’s Arthur Bishop retires as an assassin, but somebody has kidnapped his ladyfriend. Anyone who’s ever seen a Jason Statham movie knows that the man simply can’t abide the kidnapping of his love, but can we speak honestly for a moment? Good.
Nobody cares what the plot of Mechanic: Resurrection will be. There. I said it.
Here’s what we care about: Jason Statham, lots of creative killings of the bad guys, some very crashy car chases, and tons of explosions. I mean, it doesn’t hurt that Jessica Alba (Sin City), Tommy Lee Jones (Men in Black) and Michelle Yeoh (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) will be rounding out the cast, but really, it’s the carnage for which we flock to Statham’s films. On this, Mechanic: Resurrection is sure to deliver.
5 Magnificent Seven (9/23/16)
There is going to be a remake of The Magnificent Seven. The very words send shivers down the spines of film-lovers everywhere, until they consider that the original The Magnificent Seven was itself a remake of the untouchable The Seven Samurai.
While this year’s version is certain to be substantially more Hollywood than its 1960 predecessor starring Steve McQueen, Yul Brynner, and Charles Bronson, it does have a rock-solid cast. Led by Chris Pratt (Jurassic World) and Denzel Washington (Training Day), and directed by Antoine Fuqua (Training Day), the film portrays seven roaming gunfighters coming together to protect a small town from dastardly bandits. Sure to be criticized by film purists, with a cast like The Magnificent Seven and modern production values, it’s hard to imagine tumbleweed blowing around in empty theaters when the film debuts.
4 Jack Reacher: Never Go Back (10/01/16)
When lilliputian Tom Cruise attached himself to 2012’s action film Jack Reacher, the mystery-thriller literati groaned. The titular character in Lee Child’s bestselling series most defining attribute is his physical size: at approximately 6’6” and weighing in at 230 pounds of pure muscle, these seemed like shoes that were simply too big for Cruise to fill.
The film surprised, though, and while few fans thought Cruise achieved the character they knew and loved, many were able to accept Cruise as an alternate-reality version of the giant. With a surprisingly fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes, the film grossed a respectable $218 Million on a $60 Million budget. In Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, Cruise again pulls on his big-boy pants and with the addition of Cobie Smulders (Marvel’s The Avengers) audiences should be hungry for more of the same: a little guy who packs a big guy punch at the box office.
3 Inferno (10/14/16)
In previous turns as Dr. Robert Langdon-a Harvard-based symbologist and the world’s least likely action hero-Tom Hanks has had ridiculous hair (The Da Vinci Code) and a ridiculous car (Angels and Demons). In his third attempt at saving the world through academic problem solving, Langdon takes a turn as Jason Bourne: he awakens in a hospital room with no idea who he is, how he got there, or why there is a worldwide manhunt on for him.
Like many action films, these movies-based on the novels by Dan Brown-are just flat-out preposterous. However, if they are directed, acted, and produced competently enough, audiences should be able to suspend their disbelief and be thoroughly entertained for an hour and a half. So far, the series is one for two in this regard. The Da Vinci Code was successful in that manner. Angels and Demons was so far fetched that no audience could let go and escape into their version of reality. Here’s hoping that the third time's a charm.
2 Doctor Strange (11/04/16)
Box office darling Benedict Cumberbatch (Star Trek: Into Darkness) joins the Marvel Cinematic Universe with the phase 3 stand-alone film. Cumberbatch plays neurosurgeon Stephen Strange, a brilliant doctor who loses his ability to practice medicine following a car accident. On a worldwide journey of healing, he encounters a mystic who teaches him the ancient art of sorcery.
In addition to Cumberbatch, Doctor Strange has a top-notch cast, including Rachel McAdams (Sherlock Holmes), Chiwetel Ejiofor (Serenity), and Tilda Swinton (Moonrise Kingdom). Strange is aptly named, and this film will be a departure from the straight smash-and-bash superheroes we’ve seen so far from Marvel. Expect this movie to have a different heart, but plenty of box office might.
1 Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (12/16/16)
A very short time ago, at a movie theater pretty near to your house, you were most likely treated to the first new Star Wars film in over a decade-and the first watchable Star Wars film since 1985. We hope you liked it, because there is another due late this year. Part of the new “anthology” films, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is the stand-alone tale of the Bothan spies who retrieved the original death star plans just before the events depicted in 1977’s Star Wars (now Star Wars: A New Hope).
While Rogue One features a number of departures from the known and beloved Star Wars format (John Williams will not be composing the score, it is not part of a trilogy, it will not feature characters whose names are not known throughout the galaxy), it is certain to be the film we are looking for this December. Giving credit where credit is due, Disney has been an excellent steward of the film franchises it has acquired (Star Wars, The Muppets, Marvel’s Cinematic Universe), and there is no reason to presume that is likely to let up now, knowing that there is at least one Star Wars film per year coming for the foreseeable future.
What do you think? To what action flicks are you looking forward? Did we miss your favorite? Let us know in the comments below!
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