Burning slowly like a 1970s urban street thriller, “Luke Cage” feels more comfortable in its suits and shades and bullet-riddled sweatshirts than it did in its first season. Bushmaster (Mustafa Shakir) and his Jamaican cohorts – all of the actors doing a wonderful job with the dialect – are entertaining antagonists, but we slowly realize the uber-villain of Season 2 (2018, Netflix) is slick Harlem councilwoman Mariah Stokes Dillard (Alfre Woodard). Cheo Hodari Coker’s series – after many examples illustrating what powerful people can get away with – morphs into a smart meditation on the cost of holding on to power, and how a few bad decisions can see that power spiral away.
Our year-end countdown lists wrap up with Shaune’s picks for the 10 best movies of 2018:
The dominant genre of 2018 continued to be superheroes; even with the “X-Men” Universe and DC Extended Universe releasing only one film each, the three Marvel Cinematic Universe movies were impossible to overlook. Still, this was a less blockbustery year than 2017, and by year’s end I had seen at least one really good film in every genre. From a throwback thriller to an arthouse gem, here are my 10 favorite films of 2018.
“Iron Man 3” is one of my favorite Marvel Cinematic Universe movies, but I’ve heard it criticized for being a Shane Black movie in a genre where that doesn’t fit, and I have a feeling that critique might come up again with “The Predator.” Recently released on home video, this is another fun film from the director, but I admit the tone is off.
“Peppermint” is basically a gender flip of “The Punisher.” Jennifer Garner plays Riley North, whose husband and daughter are gunned down by gang-bangers due to some poor decisions the husband had made. After an outburst in court when the killers are set free, Riley is to be sent to a mental hospital; however, she escapes and disappears.
“Mile 22,” directed by Paul Berg and starring Mark Wahlberg, comes on the heels of “Lone Survivor,” “Deepwater Horizon” and “Patriot’s Day,” all of which were really good movies. In fact, “Lone Survivor” and “Patriot’s Day” were in my top 10 for their respective years. However, that may change with Wahlberg’s newest entry.
In honor of “Mission: Impossible — Fallout” hitting home rental this week, I thought I’d do a ranking of all six “M:I” movies in which Tom Cruise plays Agent Ethan Hunt. As an action movie junkie, my views may differ from the typical critical rankings. Cruise does almost all of his own stunts, and they are just as much the star of the show as he is, so I’ve included a nod to the best action sequence in each film.
“The Meg” is exactly what you think it is. It’s a big, dumb shark movie. The thing is, it’s actually not as bad as I expected either. The plot is a lot less predictable then I assumed and, contrary to what I had heard, the CGI shark isn’t horrible. (At least it’s about what you could expect with a 75-foot shark.)
“Hotel Artemis” is a strange animal. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but the film doesn’t do enough to stand out either. It depicts a futuristic Los Angeles in which riots and chaos have overtaken the city as the citizens fight over water. In the middle of the city stands Hotel Artemis, a sort of hospital for criminals. Taking a page out of the “John Wick” franchise, Hotel Artemis has a set of underground rules: no cops, no weapons, no killing other guests, etc.
I’m always up for a good action movie. I have the mindset that no matter how bad a blockbuster action movie is, it’s still worth a watch when it’s big, loud and fun. All you have to do is have a little suspension of disbelief.
Well, there is suspension of disbelief, and then there’s “Skyscraper.”