Hercules - Released in the UK on 25th July
The Rock (or Dwayne, as his mum calls him) is probably Hollywood’s only current bona fide action superstar, with his 2013 films grossing a total of $1.3 billion – far surpassing any of his peers. This may be because the traditional muscle-bound action heroes of yore have now sunk out of fashion, and have been replaced by a new breed of male role model: sensitive, (slightly less) muscular guys in who are in touch with their feminine sides and gifted with superior acting skills, such as Ryan Gosling, who shares his name with a baby bird. However, we think there is still room in everyone’s lives for a bit of big-budget, high-action silliness, of which Hercules is a great example. The Rock is a perfect fit for this role, swinging his baddy-slaying sword about with Herculean strength (sorry) and consummate ease.
Joe – Released in the UK on 25th July
If action blockbusters aren’t your thing, then you might want to try Joe instead. Based on the 1991 novel by Larry Brown, it is released on the same day as Hercules. Enigmatic Nicholas Cage takes a break from his seemingly non-stop schedule of duff action features to sport what must be one of the most fake-looking real beards in the history of beards and films. However, this apparently does not detract from the film’s quality, and indeed, Cage’s alleged performance therein. Many who have seen the previews are suggesting that this could be the finest hour in Cage’s bizarre career, or at least right up there with his fantastic performances in films such as Ghost RiderAdaptation and Bad Lieutenant. Here, in the comparatively low-key Joe, he plays a tough-talking, hard-drinking loner who strikes up an unlikely friendship with 15-year old Garry – an impoverished local boy with an unsavoury family situation which Joe endeavours to help him with, to his cost.
Lucy – Released in the UK on 22nd August
Parisian Writer/Director Luc Besson has a history of making films featuring strong female leads (see La Femme Nikita, Leon, The Fifth Element and Columbiana), so it comes as no surprise to see that Scarlett Johansson is his first choice for female butt-kicker extraordinaire in his latest thriller, Lucy. Besson also does a mean line in tense, seat-of-your-pants, blockbuster-scale action sequences (as seen in Leon, Taxi and Taken for example), whilst somehow managing to keep his films free of the cheesy dialogue and clichés associated with many Hollywood action films. Johansson herself – previously something of a rom-com stalwart – should be well cast for this role, having garnered experience in action roles when she first left her comfort zone and donned a leather cat suit in The Avengers in 2012.
In Lucy, she plays a young woman who is transformed from destitute drug mule to gun-toting, karate-kicking super-vixen when she accidently ingests the mysterious narcotic she is smuggling. The result is a sharply-edited, tense, violent and destructive tale of revenge.