This month’s picks include an animated odyssey filled with dragons, a pandemic-set post-apocalyptic Western and more.
For action fans seeking out new movies on streaming, there are plenty of car chases, explosions and fist fights to sift through. We help by providing some streaming highlights.
Stream it on Amazon.
Loosely based on the real-life 1984 hijacking of Indian Airlines Flight 421 by Pakistani terrorists, the director Ranjit M Tewari’s thrilling spy flick “Bell Bottom” follows a seeming clerk with more than just knowledge of past aerial hostage situations. Anshul Malhotra (Akshay Kumar) is the titular Bell Bottom, code-named because of his pants. Years earlier, his mother died during a hijacking carried out by Doddy (Zain Khan Durrani). Malhotra has since made it his life mission to prevent tragedies like this from happening again.
While Doddy is also behind a new terrorist attack, Malhotra is fighting a bigger foe. Internal politicians hoping to keep the fragile peace between India and Pakistan are working against him behind the scenes. From the woozy score to the chic fashion, “Bell Bottom” thrums with a 1970s James Bond verve. The climactic covert operation is a car chase in a sandstorm, heightened by a sharply edited hand-to-hand combat scene between Malhotra and the terrorists. The film makes for an exciting Indian take on the spy film genre.
Stream it on Netflix.
The director Tomer Eshed’s animated adventure “Firedrake: The Silver Dragon” poses a mythological past where humans and dragons lived in harmony until humans began hunting them. In the present day, dragons are in hiding. Firedrake (voiced by Thomas Brodie-Sangster), a young dragon, one day spots a factory near their isolated haven. In a bid to save his species, he departs with his best friend, Sorrell (Felicity Jones), a fox, to find “the rim of heaven,” the legendary resting place of the dragons.
Adapted from Cornelia Funke’s German children’s novel “Dragon Rider,” this whimsical film doesn’t hide its influence (there’s a winking nod to the “How to Train Your Dragon” trilogy). During Firedrake’s trip, he encounters a metallic cannibalistic dragon, Nettlebrand (Patrick Stewart). He also teams with Ben (Freddie Highmore), an orphaned troublemaking teenager posing as a Firerider, a person who can ride dragons.
This animated gem looks at how families are created and delves into self-discovery. The vibrant sweeping midair flights between Nettlebrand and Firedrake provide the film’s biggest source of excitement, culminating in a showdown in a gold-forging metalwork.
Stream it on Netflix.
Hailing from Nollywood, the Nigerian-set action comedy “Quam’s Money,” directed by Kayode Kasum, is a sequel to the 2018 film “New Money.” It follows a security guard turned millionaire known as Sweet Boy Q (Falz). Called “The Patron Saint of Swag,” the self-anointed “most-confirmed bachelor” in Nigeria, he made his fortune in cryptocurrency. Now the offish nouveau riche Q spends his nights wasting his cash. One evening he meets a disturbing shark: Ozzy (Nse Ikpe-Etim). She leads a group of fraudsters, the Borrow Borrow Boys, taking the flamboyant Q for every cent he’s got.
Soundtracked to an Ennio Morricone-inspired score, the film traces Q across Nigeria to find the people who stole his money. Falz gives an inspired comedic performance, speaking with the kind of fast-talking huckster confidence of a self-made millionaire. He also imbues the buffoonish character with real gravitas and pathos. In the latter stages, the film switches to a heist flick where baddies brandishing pistols aim to intimidate Q and Nigeria’s wealthy elite into submission. The surprising twists in Chinaza Onuzo’s fun, outlandish script kept me guessing until the very end.
Rent or buy on most major platforms.
A post-apocalyptic Western set in the not-too-distant future, Jon Keeyes’s film uses the Covid-19 pandemic as a premise for the fall of civilization. In Matthew Rogers’s lean script, it’s been 592 days since the outbreak of the Delta strain, a highly contagious and very deadly iteration of the virus. To combat the outbreak, the U.S. government created isolation camps to house the uninfected. One such outpost, Camp Bastion, experiences an eruption of the disease. The only survivor is Aaron (John Malkovich), a psychotic messianic cult leader of marauding land pirates.
Aaron, however, isn’t the titular character in “The Survivalist.” That honor goes to Ben (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), a former F.B.I. agent providing shelter to the hunted Sarah (Ruby Modine). Aaron’s gang believes Sarah, whose immunity to the virus makes her a perfect test subject, can end the pandemic, delivering them from their doomsday hellscape. In a farmhouse gun battle, Ben alone fights Aaron’s death squad. Malkovich provides a menacing performance in a film filled with a battering ram truck, a bevy of bullets and a final bloody execution.
Stream it on Netflix.
Grace Lewis (Ruby Rose) is part of the Black Swans, a family-owned military organization run by her father, William (Tom Wilkinson), and brother Oliver (Owain Yeoman). The trio come under war criminal charges after the video of a massacre they committed to clear room for an oil pipeline in the Gveli Pass of the Republic of Georgia goes viral.
Their employer, the British government, decides to burn them, sending Tom Buckingham (Sam Heughan), a millionaire SAS operator, and the military commander George Clements (Andy Serkis), to do the job.
After her father is killed by the SAS, Grace seeks revenge by taking hostage a train transporting Buckingham, his fiancée and the other passengers. In this movie, directed by Magnus Martens, the firefights, especially the opening massacre, are shot with clarity, as Benji Merrison’s taut score provides propulsion. The heaviest fighting between Grace and Buckingham takes place in the claustrophobic confines of a train tunnel, which makes for well-mounted tactical melees in this bloodthirsty quest for revenge.
Navigate the new season across the arts world with help from The Times.