72 Best Releases From the Genre Action

The Spool Staff

1- Title (Year) for Movies or 2- Title Season X for TV shows

StarringCarl Lumbly

Netflix’s action-comedy is deadly short on both. There’s something undeniably attractive about the premise of Obliterated. A highly skilled team of soldiers, spies, bomb experts, and tech geniuses stop on nuclear bomb detonation in the heart of Las Vegas and fully celebrate their victory. And by fully celebrate, we mean FULLY. Drugs, alcohol, exotic animals, hundreds of guests, plenty of sex toys, and so on. Then they wake in the morning to find their mission wasn’t as successful as they thought, and now they have no choice but to try and save the day in various stages of loaded and hungover. Continue Reading →

The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes

Despite a challenging premise and an overlong runtime, the Hunger Games prequel makes the most of the hand it’s been dealt. The character of Coriolanus Snow is an odd choice for a Hunger Games hero. In the original books and films, as played by screen giant Donald Sutherland, Snow was a cold-hearted, cruel dictator clearly meant to echo real world fascist leaders. Here, in the prequel story The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (say that five times fast), Coriolanus (Tom Blyth) is just a sensitive, emotional teen dreamboat whose main goal is to provide for his family in the wake of the violent revolution that tore apart Panem, the country formerly known as the United States of America. Continue Reading →

The Killer

To talk about The Killer is to strip away pretense. Well, one can try. Cold it may be, but David Fincher's latest is an incredibly open film. The houses are made of glass; the windows are ceiling-high; the voiceovers from the title character (Michael Fassbender) give infallible insight into his worldview. The film is his worldview, simple in its machinations and complex in its philosophy. In most other circumstances, this would unfold over time. And it does here, at least to an extent. Continue Reading →

The Marvels

Most films don’t come with homework. The same cannot be said of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s new movie, The Marvels. Unless you’re a devoted MCU fan with an encyclopedic knowledge of both the movies and the Disney+ TV originals, it’s difficult to understand the mechanics of this disastrously convoluted entry in the floundering franchise. It feels like being dropped headfirst into a crossover episode based on three shows you’ve never seen -- mostly because it is. The Marvels kicks off with a bit of genuine visual interest (that never appears again) in the form of hand-drawn comics created by teenage superhero-slash-Captain Marvel fangirl Kamala Khan (Iman Vellani), aka Ms. Marvel. Vellani, who previously appeared as Kamala on the little-seen Disney+ series Ms. Marvel, is a spunky, hilarious teenage heroine whose impressive comedic timing buoys the leaden, disjointed script. She so thoroughly steals the show that it’s disappointing this movie wasn’t just about her; instead, it's a confused mix of storylines involving Kamala, Captain Marvel (Brie Larson), and astronaut Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris, Candyman). It feels like the powers that be made a huge mistake in consigning her story to a poorly publicized streaming original, instead of letting her headline a film on her own. Continue Reading →

Miraculous - le film

When I was around thirteen, two classmates, Christina and Taylor (their real names, it’s not like they’re going to read this), played a prank on me that resulted in my eating dog food. In retrospect, it could have been worse: nobody else saw it happen, and for whatever reason they kept it to themselves. But when I think about my teenage years (and I try not to much at this point in my life, other than at a superficial pop culture level), my mind often goes to that moment. Continue Reading →


Both the main characters in Michel Franco’s Memory are struggling to deal with the echoes of their past. Sylvia (Jessica Chastain), a recovering alcoholic and single mother to 13-year-old Anna (Brooke Timber), desperately wants to forget the unspoken traumas of her childhood. Saul (Peter Saarsgard), on the other hand, can’t grab a hold of his past. He’s powerless as early-onset dementia slowly but inevitably steals it from him. After their high school reunion, he wordlessly follows her home and spends the night standing outside her building. In turn, she visits him at the house he shares with his brother (Josh Charles) and niece (Elsie Fisher). Then she takes him for a walk and accuses him of participating in a rape that she endured at the age of 12, a crime that he has no memory of committing.  Continue Reading →

The Hunted

At the risk of making a "getting a lot of Sorcerer vibes from this" guy out of myself, The Hunted—William Friedkin's 2003 old-master-hunts-rogue-student thriller really does make for a fascinating counterpart to his earlier men-on-a-desperate-mission masterwork. Both delve into the lives of damaged, forlorn, isolated men on perilous quests for deliverance. And both of those quests lead deep into madness. Both pointedly contrast man-made, flame-choked hellscapes (Sorcerer's exploding oil well, The Hunted's secret mission amidst the Kosovo War) with the vast, amoral green of the deep forest (Columbia and Oregon, respectively). Both turn on setpieces that thrill while maintaining a grounded (if not necessarily "realistic") feel and weave surreality in with care. Continue Reading →


Even before the internet, certain movies had reputations they didn’t quite live up to. Some, like Salo or 120 Days of Sodom, earn their mythical status as movies designed to make your skin crawl and your stomach clench. Others, like the Faces of Death series, while unpleasant to watch, were just empty, acting as a controversy delivery devices and nothing more. Others still, like William Friedkin’s Rampage, never courted outrage. But unlike those others, whatever reputation it earned before the public got a chance to see it didn’t much help. As a result, at least partially, it remains one of the more obscure releases in Friedkin’s filmography.   Continue Reading →

To Live and Die in L.A.

It must have been easy to be cynical about William Friedkin’s To Live and Die in L.A. in 1985. After a blazing hot early 1970s, his critical and popular reputation bottomed out with four straight disappointments. So, it makes sense that someone might think Friedkin’s return to the cop-on-the-edge genre was a purely commercial decision, a hope to rekindle the fire he lit in 1971 with The French Connection. After all, that movie was both a commercial and critical smash.  Continue Reading →

Meg 2: The Trench

Ever since James Cameron boldly wrote “S” after ALIEN on a chalkboard and then changed it to a dollar sign, the quickest way to sequel-ize your killer extraterrestrial/reptile/mammal/whatever has been to add more of it. You scored a hit with people fighting one giant mosquito? Great, here’s a sequel with six of them. Continue Reading →

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End

Though their core plots aren’t similar, all three movies in Edgar Wright’s Cornetto Trilogy share the common thread of emotionally immature men clinging to the relics of their youth, often to the detriment of their friendships and romantic lives. Specifically men of Generation X, who tend to glorify their younger days, and the pop culture associated with it, at a level that borders on delusional (and as a Gen X woman I can tell you we’re not much better about it). Continue Reading →

Free Fire

The plot of Free Fire, in many ways, could not be more straightforward. A mix of thugs, gun runners, and revolutionaries meet up to exchange weapons in a Boston warehouse in the 1970s. Things go wrong in a hurry. Continue Reading →

Heart of Stone

In the 2023 sea of action movies, setting yourself apart from others becomes increasingly hard. John Wick: Chapter 4, Mission: Impossible- Dead Reckoning Part 1, Extraction 2, and more have sparked an action cinema revival. It’s a rebirth that I am incredibly grateful for, certainly.  Continue Reading →

Cade: The Tortured Crossing

Say what you will about independent film auteur Neil Breen: he has a vision. All of his movies have a common theme, in which a man with superhuman abilities (played by Neil Breen) directs those abilities toward vanquishing evil corporate and government entities. Many people die in the process, but in Breen’s vision it’s all in the name of world peace. What he’s trying to say isn’t all that hard to figure out: he thinks the world would be better off without corrupt CEOs and pass-the-buck lawmakers (and hey, I don’t disagree).  Continue Reading →

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem

Despite their hue, not all TMNT films deserved to be greenlit. Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird created The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles back in 1984. Now almost 40 years later, what started as a comic book has inspired seven movies, five television series, and countless amounts of merchandise. This week the four ninja tortoises return in a new animated incarnation, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem. Considering I’ve been a fan of the Turtles since six years old, this seems like the perfect time to put an official rating on four decades of movies. Some are gnarly, some tubular, and there’s always a whole lot of cowabunga.   Continue Reading →

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem

For characters who started in part as an affectionate homage to and goof on the character-defining Frank Miller-written Daredevil comics, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are remarkably flexible. This is true in-universe: being bendy is a package deal with being a master of ninjitsu. But I'm talking more about the sheer variety of Ninja Turtle projects.  Continue Reading →

The Out-Laws

Director Tyler Spindel's track record is scattered, composed of primarily-for-streaming movies including The Wrong Missy and Father of the Year. He has an affinity for the David Spade experience, in other words. His latest, The Out-Laws, doesn't feature Spade and doesn't do much to suggest that Spindel's body of work will ever grow more than scattered.  Continue Reading →

Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One

One of Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One's earliest pieces of marketing was a trailer-by-way-of-behind-the-scenes featurette. In that clip, Tom Cruise, strapped to a motorcycle, rockets off the edge of a cliff in the Swiss Alps. He lets the bike drop away before popping his parachute and sailing into the horizon. It's one of the most death-defying sequences ever captured on film and, as we now know, it's one Cruise himself did again and again and again. The sequence, even devoid of context, sums up exactly what director Chris McQuarrie and Cruise (the two are also co-producers) hoped to achieve in Dead Reckoning: grade A movie spectacle.  Continue Reading →

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

One of the things I enjoy most about the moviegoing experience is coming out of a film feeling as if I've actually learned something that I didn't know before, or had not even occurred to me in the first place. That's exactly the feeling that I got while watching Sam Pollard’s The League, a documentary about the history of Negro baseball leagues in America. Going in, I suppose I knew the basics about the subject and could name such key figures as Josh Gibson and Satchel Paige, but Pollard, who previously directed MLK/FBI, and executive producer Questlove delve much deeper, and the results are indeed fascinating. Continue Reading →

The Kill Room

I was a latecomer to The Room, not seeing it for the first time until 2010, long after its initial, extremely short-lived theatrical release and then its designation, spearheaded by, among others, Patton Oswalt, David Cross, and Paul Rudd, as a genuine pop culture oddity. I only had some vague idea of what it was about (and its off-putting poster art, featuring it's Kubrick-staring writer/director/star Tommy Wiseau, offered no clues), but I was also a fan of cinematic endurance tests and thought that I should see what the big deal was. Continue Reading →

The Flash

I do not like hating movies. I make a point to try and find something good even in otherwise crummy pictures—Adam Driver's fine leading turn in the otherwise dull 65, for example. Continue Reading →