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An upside-down, just-out-of-focus image of a man stabbing a prone body on the floor opens Irish writer-director Ross McCall’s chilling prison crime film. While it takes time before we learn the victim’s name, the brutal perpetrator, an inmate named Steve (Craig Fairbrass), is our unlikely protagonist. To the other inmates, Steve’s rampages are notorious. To him, they never feel real because he is often taken out in the middle of his heinous acts.

After Steve has spent 20 years in prison, his daughter (Rosie Sheehy) wants to visit him for reasons he cannot understand. At the same time, a new inmate, Marcus (Stephen Odubola), is assigned to his cell. Is Steve able to change? McCall’s screenplay not only answers this question, through Steve’s meditative monologues, it seeks to question the flaws of the prison as a rehabilitative space. In the midst of these uncomfortable contemplations, outbursts of savagery occur: a man’s nose is nearly cut off, and a mob of inmates beat a would-be informant to a pulp. These ruptures never cease to indict an inadequate system in a film with more than carnage on its mind.

A John le Carré-inspired undertone and an Olympus Has Fallen-like scale drive this pulse-pounding spy flick from director Aku Louhies.

In the complex plot, Max Tanner (Jasper Paakkonen) is a spy called into action when a group of terrorists take the president and government leadership of Finland hostage by occupying the Presidential Palace. Among those trapped inside is Tanner’s colleague and on-again, off-again girlfriend, Sylvia Madsen (Nanna Blondell). Can Max save her?

While the picture, adapted from Ilkka Remes’ novel “Omerta 6/12,” stirs up powerful dramatic tension to answer that question, it also inspects the two-faced moralism of the government through the eyes of one of the mercenaries, Vasa Jankovic ( Sverrir Gudnason), a man driven to unimaginable actions to save his father and steel himself from bankruptcy.

Cinematographers Mika Orasmaa and Rauno Ronkainen rely on camera momentum for sweeping tracks during the film’s two explosive infiltration scenes (the first takes place in the palace. The second, at the end, takes place in a snowy castle similar to John Moore Lines”) for a politically thrilling journey, shot with intricate cinematography.

Initially, this film from French director Cédric Jimenez inspires comparisons to Ladj Ly’s Les Miserables, when a trio of unlikely policemen are assigned to a crime-ridden Marseille ghetto ruled by drugs and gangs. Similar to Ly’s film, the police often engage in open clashes with local criminals. An impressive set-up takes place inside a high-rise, where an entire neighborhood of people wearing masks chases the officers. It moves with the kind of chaotic energy that lets you know what ethically shaky ground the authorities are standing on.

This terrain changes even more quickly when Greg (Gilles Lellouche), Antoine (François Civil) and Yass (Karim Leklou) – detectives in the specialized anti-crime brigade – begin stealing narcotics from suspects as a bargain for their informant (Kenza Fortas ). When the cops are arrested, this film, based on a true story, shifts from action to personal melodrama. Their ordeal is used by Jimenez to critique corruption within the police force and the difficult dynamics of power exerted against marginalized people. From the grim final scenes, you realize how broken the system is.

Rent or buy on most major platforms.

There’s something endearing about a movie that knowingly embraces the B-movie, especially when it comes from the heart. The action film from director Michael D. Olmos reframes the supernatural mythos into a superhero origin story.

By night, Charlie (Charlie Clark), a car dealer by day, participates in underground Lucha Libre fights as a character known as the “Green Ghost” (a play on gringo words). He accidentally becomes a party to an endless war between ancient Mayan gods and demons for control of a magical green stone that promises unimaginable power. Charlie turns to his family for help, who, in turn, send him to train with otherworldly masters (one played by Danny Trejo).

Olmos infuses this fun concept with demanding MMA fight choreography, sharp editing and strong effects to compose mesmerizing fights that involve characters shooting flaming fireballs from their hands. The film’s themes of family and finding your place are made all the more apparent because the commitment of everyone involved is fully felt in the possible tone of this low-budget adventure.

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Usually, the biographical form does not lend itself well to the gift of action. But an exception occurs when the subject is a lean sports figure who must fight his way to the top to triumph. Director Daniel Graham’s Prizefighter: The Life of Jem Belcher, about an 18th-century bare-knuckle boxer crowned champion of England, is one such film.

Matt Hookings stars as the titular salt-of-the-earth man, with an innate knack for brawling and a desire to avoid the same trap of alcoholism that his pugilist grandfather Jack Slack (Russell Crowe) fell into. The first half of this biopic is gamely supported by a smart and knowing performance from Crowe; while the second half is pure blood sport, as Belcher’s strikes are interwoven with his slide from grace. The fights are shot with a wide lens, as if the audience has just been punched in the eye. Graham’s strong command of movement, providing an immersive experience, will satisfy any boxing purist.

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