Jack Reacher was one of 2012’s more pleasant surprises. Written and directed by the Oscar-winning screenwriter Christopher McQuarrie (The Usual Suspects, The Way of the Gun), this tightly scripted and surprisingly funny thriller featured a compelling, no-nonsense hero in the form of Tom Cruise’s Reacher and a surprising, chilling, Teutonic villain in the form of legendary director Werner Herzog. It may not have been high art, but it was damn fun.
The Birth of a Nation isn’t as compelling a glimpse into the horrors of slavery as 12 Years a Slave. Nor is it as epic as previous films about uprisings, such as Braveheart or Spartacus. Though it features several commanding performances and has a number of heartrending moments, Nate Parker’s retelling of Nat Turner’s rebellion feels loosely strung together and, ultimately, lacking in dramatic tension.
Deepwater Horizon isn’t really an action-adventure film, or a disaster movie. Not quite. Rather, it’s a horror film. It’s about a struggle for survival against an implacable, relentless foe. Or foes, really: the pent up energy of billions of barrels of oil beneath the ocean floor on the one hand; callous corporations on the other.
It’s an old story, tried and true and not yet tired: that of an outsider, or several of them, coming to town to defeat evil and protect the innocent from the wicked. The Magnificent Seven is of course a remake of The Magnificent Seven, itself a remake of Seven Samurai, but it could just as easily be a remake or a reimagining or a reboot of Shane or Tombstone or High Noon or Rio Bravo or Open Range or any number of classic and modern westerns.