Let’s take a moment to look into the crystal ball. 2018 is going to be a superb year for action movies. You don’t actually need to be a psychic to know that, however. A simple glance at the titles being released is all the proof anyone needs. You already know about some of the biggest franchise sequels: Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, Deadpool 2, Mission: Impossible 6, etc. Those alone would guarantee a thrill-packed twelve months at the cinema. But they are only a few of the many movies in the action genre that will be hitting screens.
What follows is a list of some of the less heavily-hyped action flicks coming your way. We’ve got a mix of big studio fare and independent releases. If it looks promising, it’s here, no matter where it comes from. What’s especially encouraging about 2018’s offerings is the level of diversity. These are not a bunch of movies that all look the same. They take place in a wide variety of settings and time periods, deal with a broad range of subject matter, and spotlight actors both established and up-and-coming. No matter what your taste in the action genre, there’s going to be at least one film that will satisfy you.
Here are 17 Action Movies You Didn’t Know Were Coming In 2018.
Skyscraper stars Dwayne Johnson as a former FBI Hostage Rescue Team leader who now works assessing skyscrapers for various security risks. While performing this job in China, somebody torches the building he’s checking out, then frames him for the deed. He has to find the responsible parties so that he can clear his name. As if that isn’t bad enough, his family is also trapped inside the burning structure, so he has to rescue them too.
There are some other cool aspects to Skyscraper, including the fact that it marks a high-profile return to movies for Scream star Neve Campbell, who hasn’t appeared in a major motion picture in about seven years. Guiding this effort is Rawson Marshall Thurber, who made the comedies Dodgeball and Central Intelligence, the latter of which also starred Johnson. Could this film have a humorous streak to match its mayhem?
16. Alita: Battle Angel
Battle Angel Alita is an extremely popular Japanese manga from creator Yukito Kishiro. The American movie adaptation rearranges the title to become Alita: Battle Angel, but the buzz is that it otherwise sticks fairly close to the source material.
Rosa Salazar portrays Alita, a cyborg abandoned in a scrapyard. Cybernetics doctor Ido (Christoph Waltz) finds her and fixes her up. Unfortunately, he can’t recover her memory, which has disappeared; Alita has to learn about life all over again. Eventually she discovers, to her great surprise, that she possesses astonishing fighting abilities. They come in handy as she navigates the streets of seedy Iron City, pursued by dark figures from her past.
The pedigree here is off the charts. Aside from being based on an acclaimed manga series, the producer is none other than James Cameron, and the director is Robert Rodriguez, a man with clout as both filmmaker and fan.
15. Tomb Raider
Tomb Raider remains one of the most popular videogame series ever. The two previous movie adaptations, starring Angelina Jolie, were relatively successful at the box office, although neither of them really generated an excess of fan enthusiasm. That could change with the upcoming Tomb Raider reboot.
For starters, there’s a new Lara Croft, and she’s played by Oscar winner Alicia Vikander. The director is Norwegian filmmaker Roar Uthaug, who made the acclaimed weather-related thriller The Wave. That’s a promising combination. The story also shows great potential, as Lara tries to solve the mystery of her father’s disappearance. The trail takes her to a remote island that hosts a mythic tomb, which sounds sufficiently faithful to the games. From all appearances, the updated Tomb Raider looks prepped to give fans exactly what they’ve been wanting from a big-screen version.
14. Den of Thieves
One of the first action movies out of the gate in 2018 will be Den of Thieves, which opens on January 19. The movie follows two different groups. One is a band of robbers who are planning to knock over the Federal Reserve Bank in Los Angeles. The other is an elite unit of the LA County Sheriff’s Department determined to prevent that from happening. Adding a compelling twist to the concept is the fact that the personal lives of characters on both sides intersect.
Gerard Butler stars, but it’s two of the supporting players that really make Den of Thieves intriguing. Rapper Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson and Straight Outta Compton actor O’Shea Jackson Jr. portray two of the criminals. It will be especially interesting to see how Jackson fares in a different kind of role, given that his screen debut (and breakthrough) was playing his own father, Ice Cube.
13. Death Wish
In 1974, Charles Bronson starred in the super-violent revenge thriller Death Wish, which went on to become a nationwide phenomenon. The movie maintained its popularity for years, spawning four sequels. Hollywood loves to reboot or remake past hits, and this one is especially ripe for that treatment, given its age and ongoing relevance.
For the new version of Death Wish, Bruce Willis steps into the role of Paul Kersey, the family man who turns into a cold-blooded killing machine after punks murder his wife and brutalize his daughter. Willis is a natural fit for this kind of character. He should fill Bronson’s shoes just fine. The impressive action credentials extend behind the camera, too. Joe Carnahan (The Grey) wrote the script, and Hostel‘s Eli Roth directs.
12. The Equalizer 2
When it was released in 2014, The Equalizer was a box office hit, grossing $101 million at the North American box office. Next year, Denzel Washington will return to the role of Robert McCall in the sequel, appropriately titled The Equalizer 2.
Exact plot details remain under wraps, but in the original, McCall devoted his life to helping people who, for whatever reason, are unable to help themselves in dire situations. It’s safe to say that he’ll have a whole new mission this time around.
What we do know is that Antoine Fuqua is returning as the director, Bill Pullman and Melissa Leo will be back as co-stars, and Kingsman: The Golden Circle‘s Pedro Pascal plays the villain. Whatever The Equalizer 2 has in store, Sony is pretty bullish on it. The studio moved the release date up from September to the far more lucrative summer season.
11. Red Sparrow
Jennifer Lawrence has done it all: drama, comedy, romance, sci-fi, horror. She also memorably did action with the blockbuster Hunger Games series. In 2018, she’ll take on a much different, more mature action role in the thriller Red Sparrow, opposite Joel Edgerton and Jeremy Irons.
The actress will play a ballerina recruited into a Russian intelligence agency and trained to use her mind and body as weapons. Her first mission targets a CIA agent. When she ends up developing a bond with him, both of their lives are in grave danger. It’ll be fun to see Lawrence playing such a fierce character.
Based on the novel by Jason Matthews, Red Sparrow also re-teams her with Hunger Games director Francis Lawrence (no relation). We already know they do good work together, so our anticipation level is high for this one.
10. The Commuter
Liam Neeson may as well be called Mr. Action. Even at the age of 65, he’s one of the most credible action stars in Hollywood today. With hits like the Taken series, The Grey, and a little picture called Star Wars: The Phantom Menace on his resume, the actor has more than demonstrated his very particular set of skills. Next up for Neeson will be The Commuter, which reunites him with Non-Stop and Run All Night director Jaume Collet-Serra.
This time, he portrays insurance salesman Michael McCauley. While riding the train home from work one day, Michael is offered a large sum of money by a stranger (Vera Farmiga) if he can correctly identify a mystery passenger. Of course, he takes on the challenge, quickly finding himself embroiled in a criminal conspiracy as a result. Those bad guys don’t know what’s coming!
9. Robin Hood
There have been so many different versions of the Robin Hood story over the decades that you might wonder why the world needs yet another. Look closer, though. The new, upcoming Robin Hood has a few compelling things that could set it apart from the rest. To begin with, the title role is now occupied by Taron Egerton of Kingsman fame, with Jamie Foxx stepping in as Little John and Ben Mendelsohn as the Sheriff of Nottingham.
Director Otto Bathurst, meanwhile, outlined a unique approach to the story. He told Entertainment Weekly that he views Robin Hood as “this sort of seriously militarized anarchist revolutionary, a freedom thinker, and a truth seeker.” It’s apparent that the film will try to put a revisionist spin on a tale that we’re all familiar with. A fresh take on an old legend is always a welcome sight at the cinema.
Fans of old school videogames will doubtlessly remember Rampage. Made by Midway, it featured a giant ape and a massive lizard (think King Kong and Godzilla) destroying entire city blocks of buildings while trying to elude the military. The game was fun, yet also kind of cathartic if you were having a bad day.
The concept will soon hit the big screen as Rampage turns into a major motion picture. Dwayne Johnson plays a primate expert whose favorite subject, a silverback ape, becomes a super-sized, destructive creature after a genetic experiment gone awry. When a wolf and a crocodile undergo similar transformations, the entire United States is suddenly in peril.
Rampage is directed by Brad Peyton, who previously worked with Johnson on the action-heavy disaster flick San Andreas. Naomie Harris and Jeffrey Dean Morgan co-star, along with what will probably be some eye-popping CGI beasts.
7. Proud Mary
The 1970s brought moviegoers a subgenre of action cinema known as “Blaxploitation.” These films — which include Shaft, Foxy Brown, and Coffy — put African-American actors like Richard Roundtree and Pam Grier front and center. They came at a time when black performers were rarely provided with lead roles onscreen. The characters they played were tough-as-nails, no-nonsense seekers of justice.
The Blaxploitation movement is a definite influence on Proud Mary. Taraji P. Henson stars as a hit-woman who works for an organized crime family. She meets a young boy during a botched hit, and getting to know him causes her to reevaluate her life’s work. That, of course, entails upsetting her employers. Henson is a dynamic presence, so casting her in a retro action movie with a little bit of heart seems like a groovy idea.
6. Kickboxer: Retaliation
It’s hard to believe that the Kickboxer series has been around for almost twenty-nine years now. The 1989 original, which starred Jean-Claude Van Damme, inspired four sequels between 1991 and 1995. In 2016, Kickboxer: Vengeance rebooted the franchise, picking up a devoted cult audience in the process. Now comes a sequel to that reboot, Kickboxer: Retaliation, which is the middle section of a planned trilogy.
Alain Moussi is back as Kurt Sloane. He vowed never to return to Thailand after leaving twelve months ago, but his resolve is challenged when a chance to compete in the MMA World Championship in that country presents itself. Before he can leave again, he has to face the most formidable opponent imaginable: Mongkut, a 6’8″, 400-pound hulk of a human being.
Of all the action movies coming out in 2018, Alpha may be the most unusual, but that unusual quality is also why it might end up being something really special. To begin with, it takes place 20,000 years ago, during the last Ice Age. X-Men: Apocalypse actor Kodi Smit-McPhee plays a young warrior who is injured and left for dead while on his first hunt with his tribe. He has to find his way back home, with no one to help him.
Well, almost no one. He tames a lone wolf who has similarly been abandoned by his pack. Together, they face a series of grueling dangers involving other animals, harsh terrain, and severe weather. Directed by Albert Hughes (Menace II Society, The Book of Eli), Alpha looks like it will be a sort-of PG-13 version of The Revenant. It clearly stands out, which automatically qualifies it as noteworthy.
4. A Prayer Before Dawn
A Prayer Before Dawn is notable not just for what it’s about, but also for how it was made. Based on a true story, it stars Thank You for Your Service‘s Joe Cole as English boxer Billy Moore. He ends up in one of Thailand’s most notoriously brutal prisons. Drugs and gang violence are everywhere. His only chance of getting out involves taking part in officially sanctioned Muay Thai boxing matches. Billy literally has to fight for his life.
That’s a pretty intense story line. Adding to the intensity will be the little nugget that A Prayer Before Dawn was filmed inside an actual Thai prison, with real inmates rounding out the majority of the cast. That kind of authenticity is extremely rare in any movie genre, but particularly in action. We suspect it will make this one of the most harrowing cinematic experiences of 2018.
Charlize Theron has already proven herself to be a credible action heroine with Atomic Blonde and Mad Max: Fury Road. It’ll be interesting to see her teamed with a fellow actor, Selma‘s David Oyelowo, who is less established in the genre for the upcoming Gringo. Also on board, in a nifty bit of trivia, is the late Michael Jackson’s daughter Paris, making her feature film debut.
Combining action and dark comedy, the film will tell the tale of an America businessman (Oyelowo) who fakes his own kidnapping in order to get revenge against his bosses, played by Theron and Joel Edgerton. That opens up a series of potentially deadly complications. To survive, he has to learn how to embrace some criminal means.
2. The Hurricane Heist
Sometimes a movie premise is sufficiently outrageous that you’re dying to see it solely on that basis. It’s safe to say that The Hurricane Heist is going to fill that role in 2018. This is the latest effort from Rob Cohen, the man who directed the original The Fast and the Furious, as well as xXx and Stealth.
The story concerns a group of high-tech hackers who plot to steal $600 million from one of the United States mints. At the same time that they’re trying to pull off this complicated theft, a Category 5 hurricane strikes. A meteorologist, a Treasury agent, and a Marine have to survive the harsh weather conditions so they can prevent the robbery from taking place. Toby Kebbell and Maggie Grace star.
1. Black Water
Black Water marks the fifth collaboration between legendary action heroes Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren. The two first shared the screen in 1992’s Universal Soldier. Typically they play opponents, so this will be their debut as allies.
JCVD plays Wheeler, an operative who’s working deep undercover. He awakens to inexplicably find himself imprisoned in a CIA “black site,” i.e. a secret location in which a highly classified project is carried out. Specifically, he’s inside a nuclear submarine. Lundgren portrays Marco, another prisoner whom Wheeler enlists to help him escape. Together, they seek to find out who set him up and make those guilty individuals pay.
Van Damme and Lundgren have obvious chemistry after several films together. Fans will undoubtedly watching seeing them on the same side for once.
Which of these upcoming action movies are you most excited to see? Tell us your thoughts in the comments.
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