Eight New Movies You Can Watch in June That Have Been Fast-Tracked From Cinemas to Streaming
Including Guy Ritchie and Jason Statham's latest, multiple horror movies, an Oscar-nominee and a lockdown-set heist flick.
Under normal circumstances, when a new-release movie starts playing in cinemas, audiences can't watch it on streaming, video on demand, DVD or blu-ray for a few months. But with the pandemic forcing film industry to make quite a few changes over the past year — widespread movie theatre closures will do that — that's no longer always the case.
Perhaps you haven't had time to make it to your local cinema lately. Given the hefty amount of films now releasing each week, maybe you missed something. Film distributors have been fast-tracking some of their recent releases from cinemas to streaming lately — movies that might still be playing in theatres in some parts of the country, too. In preparation for your next couch session, here's eight you can watch right now at home.
As both a comedian and a dramatic actor, Bob Odenkirk has earned a lifetime's worth of well-deserved praise. Writing for Saturday Night Live and starring in Mr Show with Bob and David each sit on his resume, as does his pivotal part in Breaking Bad and lead role in the exceptional Better Call Saul. But in Nobody, Odenkirk highlights a facet of his work that's easy to overlook. Jumping into a new genre, he makes viewers realise a truth that cuts to the heart of his talents. Every actor wants to be the person that can't be replaced, and to turn in the type of performances that no one can emulate; however, only the very best, including Odenkirk, manage exactly that. A movie so forged from the John Wick mould that it's penned by the same screenwriter — and boasts the first film's co-director David Leitch (Atomic Blonde) as a producer, too — Nobody could've featured any existing action go-to. It could've been an easy knockoff of well-known hit, joining the swathe of direct-to-video and -streaming titles that use that very template. It could've given Bruce Willis his next role to sleepwalk through, added yet another Taken-style thriller to Liam Neeson's resume or proven one of Nicolas Cage's more straightforward vehicles of late. Thankfully, though, Nobody is all about the ever-watchable Odenkirk and his peerless and compelling ability to play slippery characters.
When Nobody begins, Hutch Mansell's (Odenkirk) life has become such a routine that his weeks all unfurl in the same fashion. Plodding through a sexless marriage to real estate agent Becca (Connie Nielsen, Wonder Woman 1984), and barely paid any notice by his teenage son Blake (Gage Munroe, Guest of Honour) and younger daughter Abby (debutant Paisley Cadorath), he catches public transport to his manufacturing company job every weekday, always puts the bins out too late for the garbage truck on Tuesday mornings, and usually earns little more than polite smiles from his family while he's cooking them breakfast that they fail to eat. Then, the Mansells' suburban home is randomly burgled. Hutch confronts the thieves in the act, has a chance to swing a golf club their way, yet holds back. But when Abby notices that her beloved cat bracelet is missing in the aftermath, he decides to take action — a choice that leads him to an unrelated bus filled with obnoxious guys hassling a female passenger, and eventually sees unhinged Russian mobster Yulian Kuznetsov (Aleksey Serebryakov, Leviathan) threatening everything that Hutch holds dear.
WRATH OF MAN
With revenge thriller Wrath of Man, filmmaker Guy Ritchie (The Gentlemen) and actor Jason Statham (The Meg) reunite. The pair both came to fame with Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, repeated the feat with Snatch, then unsuccessfully tried again with Revolver, but they've spend the past 16 years heading in their own directions. During that stretch, the former subjected the world to his terrible Sherlock Holmes films, fared better with left-field additions to his resume like The Man From UNCLE and Aladdin, but didn't quite know what to do with King Arthur: Legend of the Sword. The latter has become an action go-to over the same time — with both forgettable and memorable flicks resulting, including three Fast and Furious movies and a stint scowling at Dwayne Johnson in the franchise's odd-couple spinoff Hobbs & Shaw. Thankfully, now that they're collaborating again, they're not just interested in rehashing their shared past glories. From Wrath of Man's first moments, with its tense, droning score, its high-strung mood and its filming of an armoured van robbery from inside the vehicle, a relentlessly grim tone is established. When Statham shows up shortly afterwards, he's firmly in stoic mode, too. He does spout a few quippy lines, and Ritchie once again unfurls his narrative by jumping between different people, events and time periods, but Lock, Stock Again or Snatch Harder this isn't.
Instead, Wrath of Man is a remake of 2004 French film Le Convoyeur. While walking in someone else's shoes turned out horrendously for Ritchie with the Madonna-starring Swept Away, that isn't the case with this efficient, effective and engaging crime-fuelled effort, which finds its niche — and it's a new one for its central duo, at least together. Statham plays Patrick Hill, the newest employee at the Los Angeles-based cash truck company Fortico Securities. On his first day, his colleague Bullet (Holt McCallany, Mindhunter) dubs him H — "like the bomb, or Jesus H," he says — and the nickname quickly sticks. H joins the outfit a few months after the aforementioned holdup, with the memory of the two coworkers and civilian killed in the incident still fresh in everyone's minds. So, when gunmen interrupt his first post-training run with Bullet and Boy Sweat Dave (Josh Hartnett, Penny Dreadful), they're unsurprisingly jumpy; however, H deals with the situation with lethal efficiency. Cue glowing praise from Fortico's owner (Rob Delaney, Tom & Jerry), concern from his by-the-book manager (Eddie Marsan, Vice) and intrigue about his past from the rest of the team (such as Angel Has Fallen's Rocci Williams and Calm with Horses' Niamh Algar).
SPIRAL: FROM THE BOOK OF SAW
With Spiral: From the Book of Saw, what came first: the decision to call its protagonist Ezekiel, or the casting of Samuel L Jackson as said character's father? Either way, the film's creative team must've felt mighty pleased with themselves; getting the Pulp Fiction actor to utter the name that's been synonymous with his bible-quoting, Quentin Tarantino-penned monologue for more than a quarter-century doesn't happen by accident. What now four-time franchise director Darren Lynn Bousman (Saw II, Saw III and Saw IV) and Jigsaw screenwriters Josh Stolberg and Pete Goldfinger mightn't have realised, though, is just how clumsily this choice comes across. The Saw series has made almost a billion dollars at the worldwide box office, but now it's resorting to winking and nodding to one of its latest stars' past movies. Perhaps Bousman and company didn't notice because almost everything about Spiral feels that forced, awkward, clunky and badly thought-out. Jackson and Chris Rock might gift the long-running franchise a couple of high-profile new faces; however, this ostensible reboot is exactly as derivative as you'd expect of the ninth instalment in a 17-year-old shock- and gore-driven saga.
Focusing on a wisecracking, gung-ho, about-to-be-divorced police detective known for exposing his dirty colleagues, Spiral tries to coil the series in a different direction, at least superficially — and pretends to have meaty matters on its mind. Ezekiel 'Zeke' Banks (Rock, The Witches) has been crusading for honesty, integrity, fairness and honour in law enforcement for years. Starting back when his now-retired dad Marcus (Jackson, Death to 2020) was the precinct's chief, he's been vilified by his peers for his efforts. When a killer appears to be targeting rotten cops, too, Zeke is desperate to lead the case. Initially, he just wants to avenge the death of the first victim, one of the only co-workers he called a friend, but he's soon trying to track down a murderer that seems to be following in franchise villain Jigsaw's footsteps. A lone wolf-type not by choice but necessity, Banks also happens to be saddled with a rookie partner (Max Minghella, The Handmaid's Tale) as he attempts to stop the bodies from piling up.
THE UNITED STATES VS BILLIE HOLIDAY
More than 80 years after it was first sung and heard, Billie Holiday's 'Strange Fruit' still isn't easily forgotten. Drawn from a poem penned to protest lynchings, it's meant to shock and haunt. It's designed to galvanise and mobilise, too, as drawing attention to the extrajudicial killings of Black Americans should. Indeed, so vivid is the song in its language — "Black bodies swingin' in the southern breeze" describes the third line — US authorities demanded that Holiday stop performing it. She refused repeatedly, so there were repercussions. Concerned that the track would spark change, inspire Holiday's fans to fight for civil rights and justice, and perhaps motivate riots against against oppression and discrimination as well, the US Treasury Department's Federal Bureau of Narcotics went after the musician for her drug use. If it couldn't get her to cease crooning the controversial tune via other means, such as overt warnings and a prominent police presence at her shows, it'd do whatever it could to keep her from reaching the stage night after night.
With Andra Day (Marshall) turning in an intense, impassioned, career-defining portrayal as its eponymous figure (and in her first lead film role, too), so tells The United States vs Billie Holiday, the latest Oscar-nominated biopic to step through its namesake's life. Back in 1972, Lady Sings the Blues loosely adapted Holiday's autobiography of the same name, enlisting Diana Ross to play the singer — but, in taking inspiration instead from Johann Hari's non-fiction book Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs, this latest big-screen vision of the music icon's story adopts its own angle. Holiday's troubled childhood and youth has its part in this tale, which is scripted for the screen by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks. Her addiction, and the personal woes that she tried to blot out, clearly don't escape filmmaker Lee Daniels' (The Butler) attention, either. But The United States vs Billie Holiday also falls in alongside Seberg, MLK/FBI and Judas and the Black Messiah in interrogating bleak truths about mid-20th century America. In a film that manages to be both rousing and standard, that includes surveying the misplaced priorities of its government during multiple administrations, and the blatant determination shown by an array of agencies under various presidents to undermine, persecute and silence those considered a supposedly un-American threat to the status quo.
THOSE WHO WISH ME DEAD
A smokejumper stationed to a Montana watchtower, plagued by past traumas and forced to help a teenage boy evade hired killers, Those Who Wish Me Dead's Hannah Faber actually first debuted on the page. Watching Angelina Jolie bring the whisky-swilling, no-nonsense, one of the boys-type figure to the screen, it's easy to assume otherwise. The part doesn't quite feel as if it was written specifically for the smouldering movie star, though. Rather, it seems like the kind of role that might've been penned with Liam Neeson or Denzel Washington in mind — see: this year's The Marksman for the former, and 2004's Man on Fire for the latter — then flipped, gender-wise, to gift Jolie a new star vehicle. On the one hand, let's be thankful that that's not how this character came about. Kudos to author Michael Koryta, who also co-writes the screenplay here based on his 2016 novel, for conjuring up Hannah to begin with. But on the other hand, it's never a great sign when a female protagonist plays like a grab bag of stock-standard macho hero traits, just dressed up in a shapelier guise.
It has been six years since Jolie has stepped into a mere mortal's shoes — since 2015's By the Sea, which she wrote and directed — and she leaves no doubt that Hannah is flesh and blood. There's still an iciness to the firefighter, and she still has the actor's cheekbones and pout, but Maleficent, she isn't. She's bruised, internally, by a fire that got away and left a body count. After hanging out with her colleagues, parachuting out of cars and brooding in her tower, she's soon physically in harm's way as well. As Those Who Wish Me Dead's plot gets her to this juncture, it also cuts back and forth between forensic accountant Owen Casserly (Jake Weber, Midway) and his son Connor (Finn Little, Angel of Mine), plus assassins Patrick and Jack (The Great's Nicholas Hoult and Game of Thrones' Aiden Gillen). Thanks to a treasure trove of incriminating evidence against important people that no one was ever supposed to find, these two duos are on a collision course. When they do cross paths — while Owen is trying to take Connor to stay with Ethan (Jon Bernthal, The Peanut Butter Falcon), his brother-in-law, a sheriff's deputy and one of Hannah's colleagues — it also nudges the boy into the smokejumper's orbit.
Sparked by the pandemic, lockdown films aren't just an exercise in adapting to stay-at-home conditions — or a way to keep actors, directors and other industry professionals busy and working at a challenging time. The genre also provides a window into how the creatives behind its flicks view everyday life and ordinary people. Arising from a global event that's placed many of the planet's inhabitants in similar circumstances, these features tell us which stories filmmakers deem worth telling, which visions of normality they choose to focus on and who they think is living an average life. With Malcolm & Marie, a hotshot young director and an ex-addict were the only options offered. In Language Lessons, which premiered at this year's virtual Berlin Film Festival, a wealthy widower and a Spanish teacher were the movie's two choices. Now Locked Down directs its attention towards a CEO and a courier, the latter of which stresses that he's only in the gig because his criminal record has robbed him of other opportunities. Yes, these films and their characters speak volumes about how Hollywood perceives its paying customers.
That's not the only thing that Locked Down says. Directed by Doug Liman (Chaos Walking) and scripted by Steven Knight (Locke), this romantic comedy-meets-heist flick is verbose to a farcical degree — awkwardly rather than purposefully. The repetitive and grating misfire is primarily comprised of monologues, Zoom calls and bickering between its central couple. Well-off Londoners Linda (Anne Hathaway, The Witches) and Paxton (Chiwetel Ejiofor, The Old Guard) are weeks into 2020's first lockdown, and their ten-year relationship has become a casualty. Whether chatting to each other or virtually with others, both commit a torrent of words to the subject. Linda has decided they're done, which Paxton has trouble accepting. She's also unhappy with her high-flying job, especially after she's forced to fire an entire team online, but gets scolded by her boss (Ben Stiller, Brad's Status) for not telling her now-sacked colleagues they're still like family. Tired of driving a van, Paxton is willing to do whatever his employer (Ben Kingsley, Life) needs to climb his way up the ladder. That said, he's still tied to the road, with the ex-rebel's decision to sell his beloved motorbike — a symbol of his wilder youth, and its fun, freedom and risks — hitting hard.
When a giant shark chomps its way through the cinematic ocean, audiences are meant to side with its scared human prey. But some creature features give viewers multiple reasons to do the opposite — and to find their own way to liven up a dull and formulaic movie. Perhaps the film's non-fish characters are woefully one-note or unlikeable, or both. Maybe the script is so simplistic, even in a well-worn genre, that a shark munching random keys on a typewriter probably could've written something better. Or, it could be that every plot development, performance, visual, and score choice is so overwhelmingly predictable that tension is as rare as a vegan great white. Actually, there's no maybes about any of the last three statements when it comes to horror's latest shark-centric outing, which turns Queensland's waters into a buffet for a ravenous critter. Great White marks the feature debut of director Martin Wilson, and only the second movie script for screenwriter Michael Boughen (Dying Breed); however, that its producers have 2010 Aussie shark film The Reef and its now-in-production sequel The Reef: Stalked on their resumes — plus homegrown 2007 crocodile flick Black Water and its 2020 sequel Black Water: Abyss — will surprise absolutely no one.
Great White's setup will be familiar to anyone who has even heard of a shark movie before, let alone watched one. The twist: despite reassurances by marine biologist-turned-seaplane pilot Charlie (Aaron Jakubenko, Tidelands) that the time just isn't right for teeth-gnashing ocean predators to fill their empty stomachs, climate change seems to have changed the titular species' habits. So, on a lucrative charter gig that'll help keep his business financially afloat, Charlie, his girlfriend Kaz (Katrina Bowden, 30 Rock), their cook Benny (Te Kohe Tuhaka, Love and Monsters), and their paying customers Joji (Tim Kano, Neighbours) and Michelle (Kimie Tsukakoshi, The Family Law) find themselves under threat. They've headed to a remote island of personal significance to Michelle, and Joji is clashing with Benny before they even spot the resident great white's last victim. To ramp up the stakes, Kaz is telling Charlie that she's pregnant, too. Quickly, the quintet become the creature's next targets, including while cast adrift in a life raft that could use Life of Pi's Richard Parker for company. Just as speedily, Great White's audience will wish that something — anything — that hasn't previously graced Jaws, The Shallows, 47 Metres Down or even The Meg's frames would happen in this thrill-free bob into been-there, done-that waters.
Great White is available to stream via iTunes.
The Exorcist was not an easy movie to make, as exceptional documentary Leap of Faith: William Friedkin on The Exorcist made clear. But over the past four decades, the horror masterpiece has proven a very easy film to emulate again and again — or, to try to ape in anything that pairs religion and scares, at least. Copying it is nowhere near the same as matching it, of course. That's especially the case when most one-note flicks that attempt the feat simply think that crosses, creepy females and stilted, unnatural body movements are all that it takes. The Unholy is the latest example, to uninspired, unengaging, unoriginal, unconvincing and thoroughly unsurprising results. Adapted from the 1983 James Herbert novel Shrine by seasoned screenwriter turned first-time feature director Evan Spiliotopoulos (Charlie's Angels, Beauty and the Beast, The Huntsman: Winter's War), the movie's premise has promise: what if a site of a supposed vision of the Virgin Mary and subsequent claimed miracles, such as Lourdes in France and Fatima in Portugal, was targeted by a sinister spirit instead? But, despite also boasting the always-charismatic Jeffrey Dean Morgan (The Walking Dead) as its lead, all that eventuates here is a dull, derivative and not even remotely unsettling shocker of a horror flick. The fact that The Evil Dead and Drag Me to Hell's Sam Raimi is one of its producers delivers The Unholy's biggest scare.
Looking constantly perplexed but still proving one of the best things about the film, Morgan plays disgraced journalist Gerry Fenn. After losing his fame and acclaim when he was caught fabricating stories, he now makes $150 per assignment chasing the slightest of flimsy supernatural leads. His current line of work brings him to the small Massachusetts town inhabited by Father Hagan (William Sadler, Bill & Ted Face the Music) and his niece Alice (Cricket Brown, Dukeland), the latter of whom is deaf. Thanks to a barren tree, a creepy doll, an eerie chapter of history and a strange run-in with Gerry, however, she can soon suddenly hear and speak. She says that can see the Virgin Mary, too. Swiftly, word about her story catches the church, media and public's attention. Even if Spiliotopoulos had kept the novel's title, it'd remain obvious that all isn't what it seems — the film starts nearly two centuries ago with a woman being burned alive at the aforementioned tree, so nothing here is subtle. But instead of pairing an exploration of the dangers of having faith without question with demonic bumps and jumps, The Unholy embraces cliches with the same passion that satan stereotypically has for fire. The cheap-looking visuals, Cary Elwes' (Black Christmas) wavering accent and the bored look on co-star Katie Aselton's (Synchronic) face hardly help, either.
Looking for more at-home viewing options? Here's our list of movies fast-tracked from cinemas to streaming back in May — and you can also check out our monthly streaming recommendations across new straight-to-digital films and TV shows.
Published on June 25, 2021 by Sarah Ward