I (thankfully) didn’t have many movies to choose from for this list, but I assure you the ones that did make it are pieces of shit of the highest order. Enjoy!
7. The Hurricane Heist
Sadly, I have only one enjoyably bad movie on this year’s list; happily, it’s a pretty good one. As hinted at by its title, this daring genre synthesis involves a heist that takes place during a hurricane. When a group of dastardly thieves robs a treasury facility in the middle of a category-5 storm, it’s up to meteorologist Will Rutledge to stop the bad guys and rescue his brother Breeze (yes, Breeze) from their clutches.
The Hurricane Heist is a silly movie, and it knows it, but what cements it as truly bad are its laughable attempts at drama. Take the Twister-aping prologue: after his father is killed by a hurricane, young Will looks up and sees an evil-looking skull in the clouds; somehow, this is not the most insane moment of the movie. To get more specific would spoil some of The Hurricane Heist’s most delightfully preposterous scenes; suffice it to say that they involve weaponized hubcaps, flying trucks, and the heroes using their deep knowledge of football plays to save the day. Though there were better movies this year, there were none more likely to give a physics professor an aneurysm.
6. Ready Player One
An embarrassing, instantly-dated collection of pop culture references and eye-numbing CGI, this clunker is made all the more disheartening by the fact that Steven Spielberg directed it. Read my review for more.
5. Mile 22
Mark Wahlberg stars as James Silva, the leader of a black ops team assigned to extract whistleblower Li Noor (Iko Uwais) from the fictional country Indocarr to the U.S. The airport is – you guessed it – twenty-two miles from Noor’s location, and waiting on the route are dozens of men who want him dead.
Though Mile 22’s premise is appealingly simple, and undoubtedly could have worked, it’s shackled to a movie that makes terrible choices at every turn. The movie repeatedly tells us, but never shows us, that Silva is a genius-level intellect; Wahlberg, for his part, talks really fast. The action sequences, with the exception of criminally few Uwais fight scenes, are forgettable shoot-outs. And the plot, structured around a framing device of Silva’s post-mission debriefing, is incomprehensible. The whole thing is so thoroughly bereft of fun that I have trouble accepting it was made by the director of The Rundown.
4. Ralph Breaks the Internet
Though it has some decent jokes in its first act, this sequel succumbs to some of the worst modern trends in family entertainment. Cringeworthy regurgitations of internet memes, lazy meta-comedy, and ersatz subversiveness are the order of the day in this punishingly long kids’ movie; which lacks the charm and novelty of its predecessor. But Ralph Breaks the Internet’s vilest quality is its pimping of all things Disney, going as far as to interrupt the story for what amounts to an extended advertisement for the company’s biggest franchises. I’m not usually one to say this, but won’t somebody think of the children?
3. Action Point
The hook of this Johnny Knoxville movie is that it features classic Jackass-esque stunts within a fictional, “original” story. Though Action Point delivers the wince-inducing spectacle of real-life bodily harm, as well as a few chuckles, the narrative it’s pinned to is one of the laziest, most insubstantial pieces of screenwriting I’ve seen in a while. Save yourself the boredom and watch the highlights on Youtube.
2. Under the Silver Lake
This comedy/mystery/conspiracy thriller deserves credit for its ambition and little else. The story follows Sam (a mannered Andrew Garfield), a 33-year-old Los Angeles slacker who has no job, beats up children, and is regularly chided for his bad body odor. Our hero, ladies and gentlemen. After Sam’s beautiful neighbor (Riley Keough) suddenly disappears, he dedicates himself to finding out what happened to her, embarking on a search that takes him across the city and encountering all manner of Angelinos along the way. It’s like The Big Lebowski without the charm, laughs, or coherence.
Under the Silver Lake is a meandering, pretentious mess; full of idiotic whimsy, jarring tonal shifts, and meaningless detours. Tragically, it has exactly one great scene toward the end, which is the only time the movie is able to successfully execute its vision; and even then it’s capped with an misjudged coda. I still have hope for David Robert Mitchell, who I will choose to think of as the director of It Follows, not the director of this tripe.
1. The Cloverfield Paradox
This schizophrenic mishmash of genres is an irredeemable shambles which doesn’t even have the decency to be enjoyably bad. Read my review for more.
Hell Fest: As forgettable as it is cliché, Hell Fest can’t even manage to have fun going through the slasher motions. Read my review for more.
Pacific Rim: Uprising: Guillermo del Toro’s imagination is sorely missed in this inferior sequel, which is equally lacking in star power and thrills.
Skyscraper: All I wanted from this Dwayne Johnson Die Hard rip-off was mindless fun, but it fails to clear even that low bar.