This week, Mads Mikkelsen, actor extraordinaire and the world’s dreamiest Dane, joined the cast of the forthcoming Indiana Jones sequel alongside Fleabag phenom Phoebe Waller-Bridge. The first trailer for F9, the latest installment in the venerable Fast and the Furious franchise peeled out of nowhere before rocketing into the stratosphere and our hearts. Funimation announced that Demon Slayer would receive three new special episodes recapping the series in advance of Mugen Train’s release. And, oh yeah— did you know Polygon has a cool new podcast? It’s true, we totally did!
As far as new movies available to stream and rent at home this week, we’ve got plenty to choose from. Bob Odenkirk does his best Bryan Mills/John Wick impression in Ilya Naishuller’s new action crime-thriller Nobody, Netflix unleashes yet another cool lookin’ feature in the form of New Gods: Nezha Reborn in its ongoing push to go all-in on animation, director Travis Stevens riffs on Santa Clarita Diet in the horror-comedy Jakob’s Wife, and Garrett Bradley’s 2020 documentary Time is free to watch. To help you get a handle on what’s new and available to watch, here are the movies you can watch on VOD this weekend.
“Better Call Saul’s Bob Odenkirk goes full John Wick” is the sales pitch in Hardcore Henry director Ilya Naishuller’s action crime-thriller Nobody. Hutch Mansell (Bob Odenkirk) is, to put it pointedly, a nobody; a schlubby, mild-mannered family man who experiences a mid-life crisis in the wake of an attempted robbery of his home. Now, most guys in this situation would either hit the gym, install a shit-ton of Nest camera, purchase an oversized pistol to compensate, or some mix-and-match combination of the three. But then, most folks aren’t wet-workers who faked their own death to allude a vengeful drug lord hellbent on skinning them alive in order to retire and start a new life as a schlubby, mild-mannered family man. With equal parts comedy and action, Nobody looks like a great time for anybody looking for an explosive underdog action flick. —TE
New Gods: Nezha Reborn
Where to watch it: Stream on Netflix
New Gods: Nezha Reborn is a steam/cyberpunk-ish take on the Ming dynasty novel Investiture of the Gods that follows the story of Li Yunxiang, a young motorbike delivery driver who discovers that he’s the reincarnation of Nezha, the child-god nemesis of the powerful Dragon Clan which reigns over the land with an iron fist. It falls to Li to master his newfound powers and face off against his pursuers in order to settle his ancestor’s 3,000 year old grudge. From our review:
New Gods: Nezha Reborn draws heavily on pan-Asian folklore and myth for its narrative spine. Nezha in particular has been a popular character for centuries, evolving from god to general to child to spirit in myths as disparate as the 16th-century novel Journey to the West, China’s 1979 animated hit Nezha Conquers the Dragon King, and the 2019 Chinese CGI feature Nez Ha, also currently streaming on Netflix. (That film takes a much more slapstick-driven approach to Nezha’s heavenly guardians in particular, and the visual approach starts off cartoony and child-centered compared to Nezha Reborn. But it eventually develops its own resonant emotional drama, and its own staggering action sequences. The two films make an enjoyable double feature, just to see two radically different interpretations of the same classic characters.)
Producer-turned-filmmaker Travis Stevens takes a page out of Santa Clarita Diet’s playbook with his new indie horror comedy Jakob’s Wife, but instead of zombies, it’s vampires! Barbara Crampton (You’re Next) plays Anne Fedder, the dutiful wife of her small-town minister husband Jakob (Larry Fessenden) who, frustrated and sullen over the mundanity of her life, attempts to initiate an affair with an old flame. An unusual turn of events yields a serendipitous answer to Anne’s yearning for a new lease on life in the form of being unexpectedly sired by vampire! Shenanigans quickly ensue, as Anne and Jakob bond over the former’s newfound unyielding thirst for blood. —TE
Weekend flings are all fun and games until Monday rolls around and it’s time to return to the real world. Mickey (Sebastian Stan, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier) and Chloe (Denise Gough, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt) learn that the hard way in director Argyris Papadimitropoulos’ romantic drama, Monday. When Chloe gives up on her life in the states to start a new life in Greece with her fast-made lover Mickey, tensions soon begin to boil as the two gradually realize that neither of them truly knows what they want out of the relationship. And when they do, will there be any hope of a future between them? —TE
Ride or Die
Where to watch it: Stream on Netflix
Adapted from Ching Nakamura’s manga series Gunjō, Ride or Die follows Rei (Kiko Mizuhara, Norwegian Wood), a lesbian in her 20s who decides to murder the husband of her former classmate Nanae (Honami Sato) when she learns of the brutal domestic abuse she suffers at his hand. Turning to each other for love and companionship in the aftermath, Rei and Nanae at an emotional impasse as they struggle for meaning in the midst of their shared trauma. From our review:
While it might seem unfathomable to wish for a 142-minute film to be longer, it still feels like Ride or Die relies on an awful lot of shorthand to get down to that run time… An even leaner edit could have eliminated any potential distractions, but given its style with nuance and complication, the even deeper dive into this world seems more appealing than the minimalist version. Ride or Die strikes some strange tones, and features some questionable motives. But that just supports the world Rei and Nanae have crafted for themselves. It’s messy and imperfect, and in that way, it feels unnervingly real.
Resident Evil and Monster Hunter alum Milla Jovovich stars in Alan Yuen’s Chinese action thriller The Rookies. When extreme sports athlete and certified daredevil Zhao Feng (Talu Wang) is recruited by “Bruce” (Jovovich) into the Order of the Phantom Knighthood, a clandestine spy organization charged with protecting the world, his entire life is thrown for a loop. Think along the lines of a Chinese riff on the over-the-top action of Fast & Furious and Mission Impossible with the tongue-in-cheek irreverence of Kingsman: The Secret Service.
Garrett Bradley’s 2020 documentary Time recounts the dramatic story of Fox Rich, entrepreneur and mother of six children, and her two-decade campaign to secure the release of her husband Rob G. Rich from a 60-year prison sentence for a failed robbery the pair attempted in a moment of desperation during the early 1990s. Constructed from archived home video footage filmed by Rich herself, the film is an affecting and intimate portrait of the personal costs and human stakes of the America’s prison system. The winner of the Best Documentary award at both the 2020 Sundance Film Festival and the 30th Annual Gotham Independent Film Awards, Time is an achingly beautiful film of perseverance and hope in the shadow of the American carceral system. —TE
And here’s what dropped last Friday:
City of Lies
Brad Furman’s crime film City of Lies, based on Randall Sullivan’s 2003 nonfiction book on the investigation into Christopher “The Notorious BIG” Wallace’s murder, was shelved a month before it was set to release in 2018 amid several controversies, including allegations of domestic assault directed at the film’s lead, Johnny Depp. Three years and one pandemic later, it’s finally here, for better or worse. Depp stars as retired LAPD detective Russell Poole who, with the assistance of journalist Jack Jackson (Forest Whitaker), attempts to unravel the tangled web of half-truths and motivations behind the plot to take Biggie Smalls’ life.
Jill Awbrey (All We Have Left) and Bart Johnson (High School Musical) star in Travis Cluff and Chris Lofing’s horror thriller Held as Emma and Henry, a troubled couple who attempt to repair their ailing marriage by journeying to a remote vacation rental. Their getaway plans are disturbed when the “Voice,” a masked predator who looks like a cross between a Slipknot understudy and the French electronic musician Gesaffelstein, crashes the party. As events get more brutal, and it’s clear the Voice has an intimate knowledge of their relationship, the couple must work together to uncover the truth and find a way out before it’s too late.
Based on André Carl van der Merwe’s book, Oliver Hermanus’ romance drama Moffie (a derogatory Afrikaans term for a gay man) follows Nicholas (Kai Luke Brummer), a young man in 1981 South Africa who is enlisted into compulsory military service to defend the Apartheid regime. Forced to endure two years of brutal and racist training, Nicholas struggles with his inability to live up to the farcical macho image expected of him by his family, peers, and heritage, all while desperately trying to maintain the secret of his homosexuality.
Where to watch it: Stream on Netflix
On the surface, Thunder Force sounds like the female superhero buddy comedy equivalent of 2011’s Bridesmaids or 2019’s The Hustle. Set in a world where supervillains are commonplace, Ben Falcone’s latest comedy follows estranged childhood friends Lydia (Melissa McCarthy) and Emily (Octavia Spencer) who reunite after the latter devises an experimental treatment that gives them superpowers. Endowed with these newfound abilities, the pair set out to fight crime and protect the city — hopefully without breaking too many things in the process. From our review:
Thunder Force might help illustrate why there are so few pure superhero comedy movies. Superhero action speaks to the secret kid inside many of us who sees someone getting thrown through a wall and thinks, Whoo, that’s badass, I wish I could do that. Doing the same thing and making it hilarious is difficult enough without juggling all the other complicated elements that make a sharp comedy. Thunder Force occasionally nails the funny aspects of a superpowered world, mostly through sheer force of absurdity. But it’s missing an awful lot of the elements of good comedy in general.
Director Pål Øie’s 2019 Norwegian thriller stars Thorbjørn Harr (Vikings) as a first responder sent to rescue a group of people trapped in tunnel in the aftermath of terrible truck crash. With a blizzard raging outside and a nascent wildfire swelling in intensity, the mission to rescue the people trapped inside becomes a race against time and the elements.
We Don’t Deserve Dogs
Who doesn’t love dogs? No one, that’s who! Matthew Salleh’s latest documentary is a people-pleasing, albeit unconventional film: a globetrotting journey across 11 countries including Chile, Uganda, Nepal, Finland, and Romania to capture intimate portraits of the common and extraordinary relationships and bonds between dogs and their owners. We Don’t Deserve Dogs is a kaleidoscopic odyssey of unconventional portraits of humanity, love, and friendship spanning across the world.