I could spend half the night crafting an argument that “Wonder Woman” (2017) is a metaphor for Cold War geopolitics, but this blog is not called “One Million Word Reviews” (thankfully). So let’s start by saying it’s a pretty good action movie and a pretty good setup for a bunch of lucrative sequels. I’ll bypass all the Girl Power raving because that ground has been heavily trod by others. I will say that special effects and the Hollywood business model have both evolved to the point that a female action hero franchise is plausible, and its novelty makes it refreshing.


I first watched “Scarface” in the winter of 1984 at a theater in Hialeah, Fla. It was very controversial at the time (the film, not the theater). For the f-bombs (Cher saw it with young daughter Chastity and counted 77 of them). For the way it depicted South Florida as a drug-addled crime haven (tourism officials were not amused). But the organized crime story with a Cuban twist plays out like a violent Shakespearean tragedy that will appeal equally to Shakespeare lovers and violence lovers. How violent? Just wait for Al Pacino to shout, “Say hello to my little friend!”

Justice comes cold, but surely, in “Wind River” (2017), a murder mystery that takes place on an Indian reservation in Wyoming. Jeremy Renner works for the fish and game department and stumbles on a crime scene that hits close to home. An FBI agent keeps him around for his tracking skills, but the real co-star is the weather. It’s beautiful and dismal all at once. It impacts every second of every day. One character bemoans the “snow and the quiet.” I chose to view it on one of the coldest nights of the year in my town. A wise move.

By the time he made “High Road to China” in 1983, Tom Selleck was a TV star. The romantic adventure film set in the 1920s appears to be a test to see if he could do the Indiana Jones thing like Harrison Ford (Selleck was allegedly offered “Raiders of the Lost Ark” before Ford). “High Road” isn’t any less coherent than “Raiders,” but the chemistry between Selleck and another TV person, Bess Armstrong, is awful (and there’s too much yelling). Interestingly, Selleck’s relationship with his trusty mechanic, played by Jack Weston, is more honest as a demonstration of masculine love.

I often refer to movies such as “War on Everyone” (2017) as an “odd duck.” It’s a modern, buddy-cop action flick with a corrupt-cop twist. Simple enough. But it’s strewn with so many unexplained 1970s callbacks (cars, hair, underwear, interior decorating), I was waiting for Starsky to jump out of the hutch. And then there’s all the superfluous philosophical references and surprisingly sharp dialogue that’s around 50 IQ points above the characters speaking those lines. And the over-the-top violence is so stylized, I was sure the script was based on a graphic novel. Yet it all works, somehow. Odd duck.

A Vietnam-era PTSD victim drifts into a small town, the cops pull a “vet lives matter” on him and all hell breaks loose. Voila! Sylvester Stallone has a second franchise. “First Blood” (1982) is a landmark in macho film history, opening a door that guys like Chuck Norris and Steven Seagal walked through (after they closed it back shut so they could kick it down or blow it up). It’s so macho, David Caruso plays a wimpy guy. Hell, it’s so macho, testosterone-spouting Richard Crenna doesn’t need to show up in his Green Beret outfit until we’re 45 minutes in.

Here is a ranking of all the films released in the U.S. in 2017 that I’ve seen, with links to my reviews where applicable:

1. Get Out

2. The Hero

3. The Founder

4. Once Upon a Time in Venice

5. Table 19

6. The Wall

7. Going in Style

8. Logan Lucky

9. War on Everyone

10. I Do… Until I Don’t

11. Wilson

12. My Cousin Rachel

13. Atomic Blonde

14. A United Kingdom

15. Chips

16. Paris Can Wait

17. All Nighter

18. Sleepless

19. The Lego Batman Movie

20. A Woman, a Part

21. Kidnap

22. Snatched

23. Rough Night

24. The House

25. Youth in Oregon

26. The Lovers

27. Arsenal