¡Three Amigos! (1986)

Being famous has its perks but at some point the novelty wears off. Still, it’s best to give the people what they want. After all, without fans you’re nobody, which is exactly the position in which three near-broke actors find themselves. Real-life legends are perfectly cast as they bring their natural chemistry and impeccable comedic timing to the roles of former legends of the silver screen, who misunderstood a plea for help from a fan in rural Mexico, who believes they’re the iconic heroes they play in the movies. Desperate for a gig, The Three Amigos arrive in character to a Western-style showdown to face a violent bully, who’s been threatening to take over the tiny village.

Money Train (1995)

If you like action, buckle up. Two NYC cops, who also happen to be former foster brothers, are thick as thieves despite incessant bickering about the one’s gambling addiction. All bets are off when they both fall for their beautiful new coworker, a fellow undercover sting agent who knows exactly which brother she wants. Sparks fly as a tangle with the transit authority ups the ante in a turf war for control of the subway. The arrogant director doesn’t care who lives or dies so long as he makes his money– an irresistible temptation to a chronic gambler…

The Mermaid (2016)

Revenge is a dish best served salty and wet. Impressive effects enhance a hyper-stylized modern fish tale. With the same wry disposition as Kung Fu Hustle, a young mermaid finds herself in a love triangle as she unexpectedly develops feelings for the businessman she’s been tasked with seducing then assassinating. Consequently, a battle ensues between her aquatic family and her new boyfriend’s business partners, in whose lucrative waters they’re dying.

Mortal Engines (2018)

How to describe such a unique fantastical premise…

Entire societies are mobile; each hierarchical city functions within its own feat of engineering (think interlocking collapsable compartments). These giant robotic apparatuses roam the globe vying for power, forcibly assimilating anyone who gets in their way. The plucky young heroes could’ve been in The Maze Runner!

Until now, such an imaginative book series couldn’t have been adapted for the screen. Fortunately, The Peter Jackson specializes in bringing fictional worlds to life via intricately detailed sets and props enhanced by state-of-the-art computer animation.

Swing Kids (1993)

Pit any character against a Nazi and the audience will automatically know who to root for. It’s much harder to show how a reasonable person can become a cold-hearted monster. The zeal with which teenagers approach any popular interest makes them ideal recruits; it only takes a charismatic mentor to offer all the things the War has taken away, which no amount of Big Jazz, Swing dancing, and jive slang could provide. Friendships are strained as loyalties are tested. Could anyone/thing escape the grasp of the Reich?

Incidentally, (and thankfully) no one attempts a fake accent. They all speak American or British English and you don’t even notice.

Never Let Go (1960)

What’s a struggling salesman to do when his new car– the key to improving slumping sales– gets stolen? All the charisma in the world won’t help John Cummings retrieve it from the chop-shop if the police are more focused on catching the crooked garage owner than finding an individual vehicle. Cummings wants to provide for his family but as his obsession with retreiving his stolen property grows, taking matters into his own hands jeopardizes more than his own safety.

The Rundown (2003)

Sometimes you just want to be entertained but that doesn’t mean you have to settle for meathead jocks lumbering across the screen. Given the cast, there’s obviously a mixture of action and comedy but developed characters and a creative premise elevate a potentially flat collaboration to an engaging adventure, in which a bounty hunter tracks a mobster’s son through the jungle. When the wily kid on a treasure hunt and the nonviolent gun-for-hire who wants out of the business get mixed up with the leader of a revolt against an exploitive quarry operator, survival becomes the new agenda.

The Foreigner (2017)

The depth of the story drew me in and made me want to follow the main character further. Too bad this wasn’t a TV pilot! To cast a movie that could so easily have been yet another formulaic action flick was no small feat; actors we’ve seem before were wisely utilized for their specialty while being given enough room to break out of their characatures. Moreover, their experience and professionalism allowed the seamless fusion of cultures to tell a story that’s a genuinely fresh perspective on the balance between Justice and Revenge.

Spy (2015)

Though there are both stunts and humor galore, this is no James Bond spoof; comedic actors were actually taught fighting techniques to do most of their own stunts and action stars ad libbed many of the best lines. The result stands on its own two feet (and is perhaps overqualified) as a contender in its […]

Maze Runner: the Scorch Trials (2015)

This sequel to The Maze Runner effectively plunges its characters deeper into increasingly dark and twisted places that help train them for the ultimate test to be faced in the final installment. The continued portrayal of relationships as mutually respectful and fiercely loyal– absent of any hormone- fueled delusions– more than make up for the […]