Movies offer us an escape from reality and a chance to get lost in worlds that have something the real world is missing and 2021 promises to be a more exciting year for those looking for some action-packed movies.
In 2020, for example, we saw that “any time during a pandemic” was definitely not when studios wanted to release their big action movies.
With many theatres across the globe closed and movie ticket sales down even when theatres happened to be open, many studios opted to delay the release of their biggest and most potentially lucrative titles.
The 2021’s action movie slate is stacked, and a lot of the titles on it are ones we’ve been dying to see for so long now that “highly-anticipated” doesn’t even begin to cover it.
Here’s a guide to the best action movies coming out in 2021 that you’ll most definitely want to catch.
1. Chaos Walking
Planned release date: March 5
Starring: Daisy Ridley, Tom Holland, Mads Mikkelsen, Demián Bichir, Cynthia Erivo, Nick Jonas, and David Oyelowo
Why it’s worth watching: Based on the YA novel series of the same name, this sci-fi adventure is wildly inventive and unique. The series takes place on a planet where all of the women appear to have died and men’s thoughts broadcast like a radio show for all to hear. When a girl (Daisy Ridley, leaning into her ability to play badass sci-fi women) lands on the planet and her thoughts aren’t audible, a boy (Tom Holland) realizes what danger she’s in and joins forces with her.
2. Godzilla vs. Kong
Planned release date: March 31 (in theaters and on HBO Max)
Starring: Alexander Skarsgård, Millie Bobby Brown, Rebecca Hall, Brian Tyree Henry, Shun Oguri, Eiza González, Julian Dennison, Kyle Chandler, and Demián Bichir
Why it’s worth watching: It’s a modern take on the classic creature feature (and featuring two of movie history’s most iconic creatures, at that). Plus, the always amazing and inspiring Millie Bobby Brown is back for this one (she was also in 2019’s Godzilla: King of Monsters), and her presence is always a bonus. Fearsome monsters Godzilla and King Kong square off in an epic battle for the ages, while humanity looks to wipe out both of the creatures and take back the planet once and for all.
3. Mortal Kombat
Planned release date: April 16 (in theaters and on HBO Max)
Starring: Lewis Tan, Jessica McNamee, Josh Lawson, Tadanobu Asano, Mehcad Brooks, Ludi Lin, Chin Han, Joe Taslim, and Hiroyuki Sanada
Why it’s worth watching: Nostalgia. Pretty much any time a classic franchise gets a modern reboot, we’re here for it. A washed-up mixed martial arts fighter named Cole Young is unaware of his hidden lineage or why he is being hunted down by Sub-Zero of the Lin-Kuei clan of assassins. Concerned for the safety of his family, he seeks out a clique of fighters that were chosen to defend Earthrealm in a high-stakes battle against the forces of Outworld
4. Black Widow
Planned release date: May 7
Starring: Scarlett Johansson, Florence Pugh, David Harbour, O-T Fagbenle, William Hurt, Ray Winstone, and Rachel Weisz
Why it’s worth watching: Fans have been calling for a Black Widow movie for literally years now. The character has always been a fan favorite in the MCU and it was honestly a crime that it took this long for us to see Scarlett Johansson lead her own Marvel movie. Also, the movie will kick off Phase Four of the MCU, if you care about such things. The film is dated to take place after the events of Captain America: Civil War and will see Natasha Romanoff living as a fugitive. She won’t be alone though, as she will be joined by Florence Pugh (rumoured to be the next Black Widow) and David Harbour’s Red Guardian, as they team up to take down the enigmatic masked villain, Taskmaster. After numerous delays, the film should hit theatres in May.
5. Free Guy
Planned release date: May 21
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Jodie Comer, Joe Keery, Lil Rel Howery, Utkarsh Ambudkar, and Taika Waititi
Why it’s worth watching: Ryan Reynolds as a video game NPC who becomes hilariously self-aware? YES, PLEASE. (We know—we had you at “Ryan Reynolds.”). A bank teller called Guy realizes he is a background character in an open world video game called Free City that will soon go offline.
Planned release date: May 28
Starring: Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, John Cena, Jordana Brewster, Nathalie Emmanuel, Sung Kang, Helen Mirren, and Charlize Theron
Why it’s worth watching: The Fast and the Furious franchise is enormous at this point—so big, in fact, that the latest instalment features legends like Charlize Theron and even Dame Helen Mirren, who add A+ level talent and some always appreciated additional female energy to the traditionally largely male-driven franchise. This time out, Vin Diesel’s Dom Toretto will be facing off against his brother, John Cena’s assassin, and he will be joined by many of the series regulars, including Michelle Rodriguez and Tyrese Gibson. The film is a direct follow up to 2017’s The Fate Of The Furious, which was the second entry in the franchise to hit the $1 billion mark at the box office. Buckle up, because this film should be crashing into theatres at the end of May.
7. Venom: Let There Be Carnage
Planned release date: June 25
Starring: Tom Hardy, Woody Harrelson, Michelle Williams, Reid Scott, and Naomie Harris
Why it’s worth watching: The MCU isn’t the only superhero game in town and if you like your comic book movies a little edgier and darker, this is for you. Rumours persist that Spider-Man might make an appearance in the film, though these might yet prove unfounded. Kevin Feige hinted at the fact back in 2019, but fans won’t find out for certain until June when the film is set to hit theatres.
8. Top Gun: Maverick
Planned release date: July 2
Starring: Tom Cruise, Miles Teller, Jennifer Connelly, Jon Hamm, Glen Powell, Lewis Pullman, Ed Harris, and Val Kilmer
Why it’s worth watching: It’s not every day a classic ’80s movie gets a direct sequel. Pete “Maverick” Mitchell keeps pushing the envelope after years of service as one of the Navy’s top aviators. He must soon confront the past while training a new squad of graduates for a dangerous mission that demands the ultimate sacrifice.
9. The Suicide Squad
Planned release date: August 6
Starring: Margot Robbie, Idris Elba, John Cena, Joel Kinnaman, Sylvester Stallone, Viola Davis, Jai Courtney, and Peter Capaldi.
Why it’s worth watching: A new band of anti-heroes will be causing chaos on the screen when it hits theaters next August, including John Cena’s Peacemaker, Idris Elba’s Bloodsport, and Daniela Melchior’s Ratcatcher. They will be joined by a few old faces, including Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn and Joel Kinnaman’s Captain Boomerang, and according to Gunn, they might not all survive until the end of the film
10. The King’s Man
Planned release date: August 20
Starring: Ralph Fiennes, Gemma Arterton, Rhys Ifans, Matthew Goode, Tom Hollander, Harris Dickinson, Daniel Brühl, Djimon Hounsou, and Charles Dance
Why it’s worth watching: It’s a prequel to the popular Kingsman franchise (and also look at that cast). Leading the Kingsmen will be Ralph Fiennes, and he will be joined by new recruit Harris Dickinson, as well as Gemma Arterton and Djimon Hounsou. The team of elegantly dressed (and well-mannered) super spies will be up against Rasputin in this movie, as well as a number of other criminal masterminds who have joined forces to wipe out mankind. After a few delays, the film should hopefully meet its new February release date.
11. No Time to Die
Planned release date: October 8
Starring: Daniel Craig, Rami Malek, Léa Seydoux, Lashana Lynch, Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris, Jeffrey Wright, Christoph Waltz, and Ralph Fiennes
Why it’s worth watching: It’s going to be Daniel Craig’s last go as Bond, so it’s sure to be iconic. The film will mark the final time we see Daniel Craig don Bond’s famous tuxedo, and it looks like he will be going out with a bang. While many of the usual cast of characters are all present and correct in the new film, including those famous letters of the alphabet M and Q, there will also be a new agent in the film played by Lashana Lynch, the first-ever female 007. Will she keep this 00 status when Craig’s Bond returns from his short-lived retirement? Find out next year.
Planned release date: November 5
Starring: Angelina Jolie, Richard Madden, Kumail Nanjiani, Lauren Ridloff, Brian Tyree Henry, Salma Hayek, Lia McHugh, Don Lee, Kit Harington, Gemma Chan, and Barry Keoghan
Why it’s worth watching: It’s the next Big Thing in the MCU and the cast is BONKERS. Angelina Jolie’s character, Thena, sounds particularly badass (she’s described as “a fierce warrior more comfortable in battle than any other place, she has the ability to use cosmic energy to form any handheld weapon she can think of. Often surly and aloof, she forges an unlikely friendship with Gilgamesh that spans centuries.”)
13. Mission Impossible 7
Planned release date: November 19
Starring: Tom Cruise, Ving Rhames, Henry Czerny, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, Vanessa Kirby, Angela Bassett and Frederick Schmidt,
Why it’s worth watching: Not a lot is known about Mission Impossible 7, but recent photos have showcased an intense fight scene between franchise newcomers Hayley Atwell and Esai Morales. Tom Cruise will be back, of course, running and jumping and doing all kinds of impossible things as Ethan Hunt, and fans will get to see him (and his team) in action in November.
14. Matrix 4
Planned release date: December 22
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, Jada Pinkett Smith, Lambert Wilson, and Daniel Bernhardt
Why it’s worth watching: The first Matrix movie redefined what we thought about special effects—and that was 22 years ago. Just imagine what a visual spectacle the new instalment will be. Both Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss will be returning, as Neo and Trinity respectively, and Lana Wachowski will be back to direct.
In terms of story, not a lot is known about this sequel. However, the plot almost doesn’t matter, as it’s the action many people will be looking forward to, especially if it can match the special effects spectacle of the original trilogy. It might even revolutionize the face of action cinema again, as happened back in 1999 with the launch of bullet-time. Prepare to take the red pill next December!
Sources: Screenrant.com, Marieclaire.com
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