The top 10 underappreciated action films of 2013

Duncan salutes his personal choice of the 2013 action movies that deserved just a little more love...

This article contains spoilers for each of the films mentioned. Not necessarily big ones, but you might want to steer clear of The World’s End entry if you’ve not seen that.

2013 has been a great year for action. We’ve had multiple comic book heroes fighting it out on the big screen, with Thor and Iron Man continuing Marvel’s run of great movies, the return of the R-rated antics of Kick-Ass and at long last an F-bomb loaded, bloody incarnation of The Wolverine (though it’s worth pointing out that the unrated edition in the UK only comes with the 3D version of the home release, a trend I hope doesn’t continue).

From a sci-fi angle, we’ve had robots fighting monsters in Pacific Rim and Matt Damon fighting the system in the melancholy triumph that was Elysium. There was also the long awaited return of Riddick, though it would seem not an entirely successful one, which is a shame.

Speaking of Vin Diesel, there’s also been the sixth entry from the Fast & Furious franchise with his co-star Dwayne Johnson apparently set on beating our own Jason Statham to the title of most productive action star, with G.I. Joe: Retaliation and Pain & Gain hitting big, while Snitch and Empire State were less successful. There were also a few surprise successes, such as Now You See Me (which features a fight scene that would make Gambit blush with jealousy) and even Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters pulling in decent worldwide takes.

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Worldwide take is key too, which Aaron Eckhart summed up nicely when we spoke to him earlier in the year for another great slice of action, Olympus Has Fallen:

“Hollywood is no longer an American event. I mean as an actor you’re talking now about what international numbers are, you’re not talking about domestic numbers. This movie’s going to make what it makes in America, but really this movie’s going to make its money around the world. So it’s a real deal, we say, ‘Will China allow this movie to be shown in its country, or how does it look if the bad guy’s this, that, or the other?’ As the world gets smaller and there are more participants in the movie business… I mean these movies are funded by India, China, Russia so one of their stipulations is ‘Uh-uh, we’re good guys.'”

He’s absolutely right, and many of the movies mentioned above and below have barely, if at all, covered their budgets from their domestic take in America. This would be less of a problem if the films’ releases in other countries weren’t then affected by ‘bad’ US box office, which has led to a great summer blockbuster like White House Down being delayed and then slipped out when no one was looking.

In putting this list together, I’ve tried to draw attention to those movies that deserved to do far better than they did, weighing up negative backlash against the actual box office takings, then pitching those factors against the actual quality of the movie, especially in terms of its action content. There’s never anything to be gained from instantly dismissing films, so if you have overlooked any of the below maybe you might be tempted to give them a look.

I’d also like to add that, knowing the love that Dredd gets from our readers, I had an overwhelming desire to place it in the top ten, just because no such list existed last year. Just know that we’ll always mention the beloved Dredd any chance we get.

10. 2 Guns

Production budget of $61m, worldwide gross of $132m

Hooray for 2 Guns. It’s quite possibly the most financially successful movie on this list, but still wasn’t as wildly successful as it deserved to be, only just covering its budget from the US take and then not making a great deal elsewhere, which is a great shame.

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Any fan of buddy cop or team-up action movies should revel in the sheer comedy delight of watching Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg spitting one-liners out at a rate of knots, while shooting the hell out of all and sundry, including chickens. The sheer speed at which quotable lines fly off the screen gives Tarantino a run for his money, and every single one hits with superb comic timing.

Wahlberg plays his role as loveably idiotic, which is a shtick he now has down to a fine art and even stretched to the limit this year in Michael Bay’s divisive Pain & Gain, which caused some polar opinions here at Geek towers, though I would have included it on this list if its small budget hadn’t returned a sizeable profit. It’s been a mixed year for Wahlberg, though, as Broken City, which he also produced, really didn’t do well.

To take from the review of 2 Guns I wrote a few months ago, director Baltasar Kormákur deserves credit for putting together a movie that manages to both stick to some classic genre conventions, while feeling utterly fresh and original. Kormákur takes influences from old gangster movies, to westerns and combines them into a beautifully shot and crafted movie.

Action highlight:  

With a kidnapped gangster (Edward James Olmos) bouncing around in the trunk, Wahlberg is pursued across a dusty desert landscape by Washington, leading to a game of truck driving chicken. It’s exciting to watch, particularly the use of a wing mirror in a fist fight, but the reason I love the scene so much is that it sets up one of the movie’s funniest scenes.

Wahlberg’s excitable reaction, once they’ve finished scuffling, leads to his ‘together’ moment – it made me laugh in the trailer, made me laugh in the movie theater and has just made me laugh again thinking about it. Comedy and action in perfect harmony.

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9. Parker

Production budget of $35m, worldwide gross of $46m

By the time you read this, Statham’s Homefront will have had its opening weekend in the US, and if there’s any justice in the world, won’t be deserving of a place on this list as it manages to tick all the right boxes for anyone in the mood for a tight, tense and action-filled fix.

Of course, as we’ve coming to expect from the mighty Stath, it’s his third cinematic venture this year, with Parker providing the first and Hummingbird the second. It was a close call as to which of the those films to choose for this list, but arguably Hummingbird falls more into a dramatic thriller category.

Parker chooses to follow the action thriller route, with a fine opening scene leading to a bloody betrayal, but then falters like a few films on this list due to a tonal shift in the middle, where Statham’s titular character finds himself shown around houses by Jennifer Lopez for no apparent reason – or certainly not one that warrants so much screen time. Even though I reviewed Parker back at the start of the year, I’m still baffled by the casting of Lopez, and if it was done, as I suspected, to try and broaden the appeal of Stath’s movies to a larger audience, it didn’t work. And though I have nothing against her Lopez as an actress, there’s no point to her character.

Still, there’s fun to be had, as there’s enough left from the core plot to keep things fluid, and it’s great to see our man put in a charismatic turn in the lead role, as he really does keep things entertaining, and proves yet again why he’s consistently able to carry a big screen adventure.

With Homefront about to be unleashed, Statham’s managed to take his charming turn in Parker, combine some of the dramatics from Hummingbird and the head smashing antics from his best action movies, so here’s hoping it’s a success.

Action highlight: Statham proving that he’s knife proof

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I think deep down we all knew that Statham could take a knife and not blink, but in Parker’s rather fine one-on-one scrap, he takes the rather novel approach of letting himself get stabbed in the hand to avoid any serious injury. He’s just that tough.

In fact, the brutality of the fight really does help to support my theory that the original intention was to make Parker a much more gritty and dark movie. There’s blood everywhere, and it induces the usual wince from seeing someone get hit by toilet porcelain, while the punches are shown to full effect before things take a topple over a balcony. It’s a standout moment in the movie, and it’s a pity there wasn’t more scenes like this instead of all that house hunting.

8. R.I.P.D.

Production budget of $130m, worldwide gross of $64.6m

Poor Ryan Reynolds. I’ve loved and supported his career since he first charmed his way through Van Wilder: Party Liaison, yet it seems the big break has yet to happen. Certainly Reynolds has been in several high profile movies, but none have managed to reach the financial and critical heights that he so deserves, and each year I keep hoping his luck will change.

Ironically, for a man with such a handsome face, it’s the voice work he’s done for a couple of animated movies this year that have yielded the best box office rewards, with Turbo lifted by its non-domestic gross and the rather fantastic The Croods scoring big the world over, with nearly $600 million in the bank and a sequel confirmed.

When R.I.P.D was announced a while back, I immediately took an interest (and by interest I mean hassling Mr Brew for any and all coverage when it was released like a needy child), with the prospect of Reynolds joining an undead-hunting, supernatural police force ticking a lot of boxes for me. To add to that, the actors involved just made me even more excited, as Jeff Bridges, Kevin Bacon and even the legendary James ‘Lopan’ Hong (playing the alternate version of Reynolds’ character) made for one hell of an enticing prospect. Sadly, after the movie tanked in the US, just like White House Down, it got buried and barely made cinemas in the UK.

The strange thing about R.I.P.D is that it’s really not that bad, and certainly not the total disaster that people seemed to brand it as. It certainly has its flaws, which mostly stem from the uneven tone that shifts events from the tragic (beautifully realised by Reynolds I might add), to the surreally inventive, to outdated flatulence jokes, all  by way of a Men In Black-style set up, but there’s still plenty to enjoy.

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It’s also a pity that even the great Jeff Bridges felt the need to have a pop at R.I.P.D recently, merely adding to the already rotten (no pun intended) reputation it had gained, when it was his character’s direction that seemed the most jarring. Ah well, it can sit alongside Green Lantern on my bookcase and I’ll be happy.

Action highlight: Watching James Hong shooting a banana in a city pursuit.

One of the more inspired visual gags in R.I.P.D is having real world avatars for the main protagonists, so that the living can’t recognise them. Jeff Bridges’ character therefore becomes Victoria’s secret model Marisa Miller and Reynolds’ becomes James Hong.

The two avatars are used to their full extent when chasing down a ‘deado’ in broad daylight, which entails some might fine car flipping and the rather fine sight of the blonde Miller bouncing off walls distracting any men in her path, while we get the comedy spectacle of seeing James Hong in pursuit of a bloated undead monster, while wielding a banana. Inspired.

7. Jack The Giant Slayer

Production budget of $195m, worldwide gross of $197.5m

Everything was in place to make Jack The Giant Slayer a success. Certainly, Warner Bros would agree, as they spent so much money bringing it to the screen, perhaps convinced that the tale of an everyday boy whisked off on a magical adventure would help to set them up with a future franchise in a mail-Potter world. But as The Chronicles Of Narnia proved, even if you continue to make increasingly strong movies based on a well-known work of children’s fiction, there’s never any guarantee of success.

The success of TV shows like Once Upon A Time suggested an audience hunger for fairy tales, while Bryan Singer is an established and talented director who has proved on multiple occasions that he’s great at handling giant, visionary movies. Jack The Giant Slayer even boasted a fine cast, including such British stalwarts as Ian McShane and Ralph Brown, charming young leads Nicholas Hoult and Eleanor Tomlinson, and even Ewan McGregor channelling Obi Wan Kenobi, playing a classical knight instead of the Jedi kind.

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To be fair, the movie itself never quite sparks as it should, managing to sustain a level of fun without ever excelling at any of the areas it explores. The giants are disgusting, but only slightly disturbing when they could have been genuinely creepy, and at times it seems as though  their human chomping antics were cut at the last minute rather than shot in an intentionally child-friendly manner. The apparently expensive effects also shift from magnificent to slightly shonky, which might be less noticeable from lower budget fare, but tends to stick out in such a big movie, though the production design, as is always the case with Singer’s films, is first class.

There are chuckles to be had throughout, and events whip quickly from one to the next, making for a good Sunday afternoon’s entertainment. The retelling of such a classic tale is sure to find an audience in the long run, especially amongst families looking for such an honest and back-to-basics movie, free from the cynicism that runs rampant in contemporary movies.

Action highlight: Attack of the giants!

Jack The Giant Slayer gets stronger and better the longer it progresses, especially as the start is taken up with quite a lot of exposition, so when the second act closes with a mock end to the tale (children may be surprised, but adults less so) it leads to the thrilling finale in which all the best elements of the movie finally spring to life.

There are some great shades of Lord Of The Rings during the end battle, with horseback riders being swatted insignificantly from their mounts and occasionally beheaded by way of a giant’s mouth, all leading back to the castle where the majority of the action takes place.

McGregor’s knight stands shoulder to shoulder with king McShane during the castle siege, all beautifully lit and immersed in smoke and fire from the flaming moat they’ve torched to keep the giants at bay. Flaming trees are hurled effortlessly by giants as impromptu weapons, walls are smashed and the two young heroes face their own challenge from Fallon, the disturbing (and disturbed) leader of the aggressors.

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6. Machete Kills

Production budget of $20m, worldwide gross of $15m

Now here was something I didn’t expect – a grindhouse sequel that manages to surpass its predecessor in every way. Admittedly, some action sequels are perfectly entertaining, even if they can’t all match the originals – most Die Hards (except this years’), Lethal Weapon 2, Predator 2, Expendables 2 and recently, the Fast And Furious sequels (especially Fast 5) all spring to mind.

The main difference with Machete Kills is that the first movie wasn’t actually that great. It certainly ticked a lot of boxes for me, with the heady mix of seeing Seagal and Lohan in a movie filled with blood and gore, even going one step further by throwing in a bonus Don Johnson, yet somehow it never felt as exciting as the sum of its parts. When Machete Kills starts, there’s the distinct feeling of déjà vu, yet little by little, it builds into a very funny, inventive and entertaining adventure.

pal Den Of Geek writer, beard adorner, friend and Statham stealer, Matt Edwards, said in his fine review that it seemed a shame that Machete himself was slightly sidelined by the wealth of other crazy characters in the movie, but for me that’s why it was such a joy. I love Danny Trejo, but what I love about his career is the vast number of memorable supporting characters he’s played, rather than the lead roles, so I felt vindicated that there was more screen time given to the likes of Amber Heard.

The longer Machete Kills runs for the better it gets, with each step proving more insanely over the top than the last, and there are enough hysterical moments to keep the momentum going. The Chameleon was a real standout for me (Walton Goggins should be in everything) and the sight of Mel Gibson in a landspeeder is an image I thought could have only sprung from my head. It’s great to see Gibson playing such a comically unhinged character again, and it’s fair to say that he really elevates the movie as a whole with the delight at which he executes his lines.

Action highlight: Any use of the inside out gun.

It’s difficult to choose one standout scene in a movie that consists or a near constant stream of action, as scenes zoom past so quickly there’s barely time to think before someone else has been beheaded. The body count is so high that there’s a cornucopia of carnage to choose from… Machete’s several novel uses of helicopter blades, Gibson with a blaster, the fight between Luz and Miss San Antonio, Lady Gaga in a car chase – the list goes on.

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I think where Machete Kills takes things to the next level, quite literally, is when the more fantastical elements come in to play. After all, there’s only so many times death by a machete can delight before it borders on the repetitive, but of all the new weaponry showcased in the armoury, it’s the inside out gun that makes the biggest impact. It’s fairly self-explanatory, but I’ll leave it down to you to witness the splattery joy it brings to the screen.

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5. Kick-Ass 2

Production budget of $28m, worldwide gross of $59.5m

It seemed apt to follow Machete Kills with another brutal sequel, and while Kick-Ass 2 doesn’t quite better the first movie, I don’t think anyone ever expected it to. Kick-Ass’ power came from its originality and no-holds-barred attitude towards violence and language, all thanks to its independent funding. Put all that together, and you have a near perfect comic book movie.

I have to admit, I was ever so slightly terrified that Kick-Ass 2 would be a let-down in some way, especially after some decidedly middling reviews, but I loved every single second of it. Having invested in the first movie so heavily, I avoided the comics for fear of spoiling its events, and it really paid off, as there are so many shocking events that the movie still managed to knock me sideways a few times. The twist on the traditional Mean Girls high school tale was especially great, and I could have watched an entire movie based just on that.

There’s a real sense of believability to the escalating events, and it’s fair to say that the majority of the movie is carried on the diminutive shoulders of Chloë Grace Moretz, who already proved to be an actress ahead of her years in the original, and here, she’s quite simply excellent. Her character of Mindy/Hit-Girl has the most interesting journey, which would never have worked in the hands of a lesser actress, with too many highlights to name here (I wouldn’t want to spoil anything) but her ninja try-outs might be one of the greatest things I’ve ever seen.

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Elsewhere, there are plenty of great performances, and it was especially fun watching John Leguizamo playing such a straight role in an otherwise flamboyant flick. In fact, it’s the charisma and likeability of the stars that give real heft to the emotional core at the heart of Kick-Ass 2. There will always be plenty of easy chances to focus on the violence in such a movie (hello Daily Mail), of which there’s enough to sate anyone’s bloodlust, but the violence itself wouldn’t have any impact without an investment in the characters, and that’s what really stands out in Kick-Ass 2 – character.

If you haven’t seen it yet for whatever reason, it’s out next week on DVD. 

Action highlight: The first team outing of Justice Forever.

There’s a palpable sense of excitement when Dave Lizewski finds a place amongst the Justice Forever team, as it’s formed directly because of his actions for the very best of reasons. The eclectic mix of heroes have all been brought together by (mostly) tragic circumstances, so they’re immediately people you can root for, and as with Dave in part one, they’re so ordinary that it’s easy to relate to them.

Again, I’ll avoid specifics, but when they finally interrupt a poker game on a first mission of justice, you can’t help but flinch at the possibility that events are about to go terribly, terribly wrong, especially with no proof of how their revered leader, Colonel Stars and Stripes (an excellent Jim Carrey) will actually handle himself. The resultant fight, though, is thrilling on every level, and a glorious set up for what follows. “Watch the birdy!”

4. The Last Stand

Production budget of $45m, worldwide gross of $45m

Sadly, it’s been a disappointing year for the beloved action icons of the 80s. We won’t speak of Bruce Willis here, as it’s just plain upsetting that he’s decided to give up on making an effort with anything to do with his career. Sylvester Stallone’s Bullet To The Head barely made a dent at the box office, but hopefully the money it did make covered the cost of the axe fight, as that really was a highlight in an otherwise formulaic and dry movie.

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The joyous teaming of Sly and Arnie in Escape Plan (full review here) has at least proved more successful in terms of its take outside of the US, having crossed the $100 million mark, though it makes me a little sad when I think back to how easily both stars could accrue that number domestically and in their own standalone movies.

On the upside though, we got a total return to form from the great Austrian Oak, with Schwarzenegger recently giving a superbly comic turn in Escape Plan, after he started the year with The Last Stand, a movie I chose for this list as, out of all the movies mentioned above, it’s the most solidly entertaining of the bunch and stands up incredibly well to repeat viewings.

The real triumph of The Last Stand comes from its knowing humor that punctuates the R-rated violence and action, while cleverly leaving the emotional and dramatic content to Arnie’s pal cast members, most notably Jaimie Alexander. There’s a lot of great character actors in the cast (Luis Guzman, Peter Stormare and Forest Whitaker to name a few) but Alexander, an actress who’d already made a noticeable impact in Thor, proved as adept at carrying pathos as she was a big sniper rifle.

Action highlight: Watching Arnie behind a gatling gun for the first time in decades.

Schwarzenegger and heavy weapons have an illustrious and joyous history. James Cameron’s Terminator 2 still stands out (alongside Commando) as the most ingenious and downright cool use of weaponry; there was the one-handed spin of the shotgun, the smoke grenade launcher to the rear and of course the gatling gun that decimated the police force’s squad cars.

Like many aspects of The Last Stand, from the swearing to the punching, there was a lot of enjoyment to be taken from watching Arnie back on the big screen and doing what he does best, so when we finally got to see him wielding some heavy arms again, it was a moment of sheer action junkie delight. As if the spectacle alone wasn’t enough, the set piece was further enhanced by the over-the-top decimation of the bad guys, sending a superb comedy spike through the splattery bloodshed. Bravo.

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3. The World’s End

Production budget of $20m, worldwide gross of $46m

Yes it might have made just over double its budget, so perhaps it shouldn’t feature so highly on this list, but I did mention that quality would play a factor in the ranking, and a movie like The World’s End deserves to reap as much financial reward and success as possible because, to put it bluntly, it’s brilliant.

Like many pal geeks, I’ve followed the exploits of Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost since their Spaced days, and the beauty of their work has always been the ability to tap into popular culture and spread references throughout their own work in such a way that it feels as if you’re the only one in on the joke, that the level of referential asides couldn’t possibly be understood on the same level by anyone else, and that alone really makes each project they’ve done feel special and unique in its own way.

There’s also the believability they manage to bring to such insane scenarios that really makes the films work, whether it was the hungover walk through the first stage of a zombie apocalypse, dealing with graphically destructive deaths in a small town, or the prospect of global invasion while drunk, the characters always deal with things in a way that seem so natural, you can’t help but get drawn in. Like the previous two chapters in the Cornetto Trilogy, The World’s End is that superb blend of comedy, tragedy and action, which it deftly switches between in a heartbeat, making for a wholly satisfying and original movie.

It also gains an extra gold star for casting the two best parts of Die Another Day, as the Bond appreciation is as much of a delight in TWE as it was watching the mighty Timothy Dalton in Hot Fuzz.

Action highlight: The revelatory scuffle in the men’s room.

It’s quite hard to describe exactly how amazing the first fight scene is without giving anything away, but the shock revelation that sets it in motion really is a true WTF moment. The action that follows is some of the most superb and cleverly choreographed I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen a lot. If it was just a normal fist fight, it would deserve high praise for the absolute clarity with which it unfolds, but with the added effects element (which must have proved to be more than a little time consuming) the skill involved is mind blowing.

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It’s one of the most thrilling and visceral punch ups in recent movie theater, leaving your jaw utterly dropped until the last moment. And even more impressive is that it’s all filmed as one almost continuous shot – easily one of the best fight scenes of all time, and quite possibly my favorite movie of the year. You’ll never look at bar fights in the same light again.

2. White House Down

Production budget of $150m, worldwide gross of $205m

I was torn whether to put White House Down at the top of this list, as it’s just a slightly tighter and more slickly put together action flick, but decided against it as it didn’t have quite so much negative pre-conception to deal with before its release. If anything, it seemed as though people were ready for a prime cut of Channing Tatum saving the day, especially after he’d proved to be such a rising success at the box office with 21 Jump Street and Magic Mike.

White House Down even had a director, Roland Emmerich, known for making billions of dollars worldwide with blockbusters such as Independence Day and The Day After Tomorrow, yet somehow the stars refused to align, and WHD just didn’t hit a home run domestically, leading to a late cinematic release for the rest of the world and a reduced advertising budget that seemed to give up even acknowledging there was a decent movie to be promoted.

What’s most frustrating about the whole situation is that WHD is a great action movie, and one that absolutely deserved to be a runaway success. The teaming of Tatum and Jamie Foxx provided all the buddy chemistry, with Foxx providing some fine deadpan moments in his straight role as the leader of the free world and Tatum proving as charismatic as usual and a fine John McClane in waiting, especially in a year when the real McClane’s outing was just plain awful.

It does often seem to be the case that when two similar movies collide in the same year (Armageddon vs  Deep Impact, Dante’s Peak vs VolcanoThe Thomas Crown Affair vs Entrapment, umm, Drop Zone vs Terminal Velocity?) that one will triumph above the other. It’s always been a strange phenomenon, as if audiences simply don’t have enough room in their hearts for two films with the same plot within a 12 month time frame.

In the case of White House Down, it was pipped to the mail by Olympus Has Fallen, a much more violent and gritty depiction of a White House invasion, so despite sharing a pitch, there didn’t seem much reason why they had to do the same with an audience. I loved them both, and I’m rubbing my hands at the prospect of watching a double bill at home. It’s just a terrible shame that WHD didn’t make enough money to spring into a franchise. At least there’ll be more from Mr Butler in London Has Fallen, and next year we’ll get another fix of action comedy from Tatum in 21 Jump Street 2.

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Action highlight: The car chase across the White House lawn.

Quips, explosions and a white undershirt are synonymous with top of the line action, and WHD carried on the tradition in a grand style. Just over half way through, both Foxx and Tatum find themselves trying to flee the White House in the Presidential limo, while being assaulted by escort vehicles mounted with, you’ve guessed it, gatling guns once more. The scene represents everything that’s great about the movie, with the overblown spectacle all taking place with tongue firmly in cheek, and it never manages to be anything less than exciting.

And as if the car flipping joy wasn’t enough, there’s also RPGs vs tanks, zombies, the line “Can you not hit me in the head with a rocket while I’m trying to drive!” and James Woods. Immense stuff.

1. The Lone Ranger

Production budget of $215m, worldwide gross of $260m

Just before The Lone Ranger’s cinematic release, I was overcome by the need to write an article politely asking the world at large to leave the poor movie alone. I couldn’t recall such an overwhelming desire for a movie to fail this side of the water-based antics of Titanic and Waterworld (though I’m sure there have been some), with everyone queuing up to destroy a movie that set out to merely put a slightly left-of-center spin on a classic pop icon, while championing practical stunts and effects over CGI.

There’s always a certain hostility towards blockbusters once reports of escalating budgets get smeared all over the press, with people gathering to throw stones at an entirely unknown product, in this case sometimes based on nothing more than Johnny Depp wearing a dead bird on his head, which as it turned out was a vital part of his character’s story arc.

Don’t get me wrong, there are always going to be films that trigger an impulsive need to comment, especially when the property involves a remake (I’m looking at you RoboCop) but The Lone Ranger wasn’t sacrosanct in any way, and if the directorial teaming of Gore Verbinski and Johnny Depp had proved anything, it was that people were still flocking in droves to see their continued adventures of Captain Jack Sparrow in The Pirates Of The Caribbean franchise.

As it turned out, The Lone Ranger was a cracking, funny, slightly gruesome and surreal movie that I thoroughly enjoyed. It chose to take the blockbuster template and sidestep the conventions at every possible moment, so that slapstick comedy could lead to brutal killing, where Tonto isn’t just a sidekick but a genuinely traumatised figure of tragedy, and the eponymous hero spends most of the movie being useless. As is the case with all the films above, there’s a second life to be had on home release, where the comfort of a sofa will help to ease the rather excessive runtime, but it’s a great shame that the financial loss won’t lead to further adventures on the big screen, as I’d have been first in line.

Action highlight: The William Tell Overture train chase.

There’s nothing like a steam train chase finale, just ask Back To The Future Part III. By the time the fanfare kicks the action into gear, you’ve completely forgotten its association with The Lone Ranger, which makes the moment even more exciting. What follows is a beautifully executed work of thrilling choreography and comical pratfalls in the true spirit of the West, which Verbinski had already shown such a deft hand at in the near-perfect Rango. You can even re-enact it using Lego.

The scene represents everything that’s great about The Lone Ranger, and will hopefully delight a whole new audience now it’s on disc. Go on, you know you want to….

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