2020 isn’t particularly a good year, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic bringing the world to a standstill and that includes the whole movie industry in general. As a result, I only to get watch fewer movies than usual than any other years before. Still, over the past excruciating 12 months, I managed to see some of them and here are my Top 10 Worst Movies of 2020.
In what could have been a gripping WWII thriller centres on the naval battle between the USS Keeling destroyer and German U-boats, Greyhound is surprisingly a monotonous piece of work. Not even the calibre of Tom Hanks, who is no stranger to playing ordinary heroes caught in an extraordinary situation (e.g. 1998’s Saving Private Ryan, 2013’s Captain Phillips and 2016’s Sully) can save the movie. Blame it on Hanks’ largely insipid screenplay adapted from C.S. Forester’s 1955 novel The Good Shepherd while the movie’s stripped-down approach lacks sustained tension to justify its 91-minute running time. (Read my full review here)
An ill-advised remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s 1940 Oscar-winning black and white classic of the same name, Ben Wheatley’s lavish take on Rebecca does have its moments. It looks beautiful, particularly in terms of its production and costume designs while Kristin Scott Thomas deserves credit for her icy portrayal of the housekeeper Mrs Danvers. Too bad Wheatley’s languid direction, coupled with a tedious script feels like a slog struggling to reach the finish line. Both Armie Hammer and Lily James look photogenic enough but there’s barely a spark of chemistry within their onscreen pairing. Plus, you know the movie is in deep trouble if Hammer’s eye-catching mustard suit steals most of the show here. (Read my full review here)
On paper, Greg Barker’s Sergio has all the makings of a great biographical drama about the United Nations diplomat Sérgio Vieira de Mello with a geopolitical-thriller undertone. But his decision to utilising the non-linear storytelling method is surprisingly dull, lacking the narrative thrust desperately needed in this movie. Wagner Moura and Ana de Armas are both wasted in their underwritten roles. The added love story between these two real-life characters doesn’t help either, resulting in more like an obligatory filler than a necessity. (Read my full review here)
7. Spenser Confidential
As if Peter Berg and Mark Wahlberg’s prior collaboration in 2018’s Mile 22 weren’t bad enough, they fired blanks again in Netflix’s Spenser Confidential. Berg’s attempt to blend both mystery drama and buddy comedy is as painfully generic as it gets, with the latter lacks solid chemistry between Mark Wahlberg and Winston Duke. Even the ’80s and ’90s-style of action setpieces failed to generate any kind of worthwhile excitement. (Read my full review here)
6. Fantasy Island
The big-screen version of the 1970 and 80s fantasy-drama series of the same name is a near-disaster of a so-called horror movie, with Fiji’s breathtaking Taveuni island deserves the only praise here. Jeff Wadlow, who also responsible for the equally disastrous Truth or Dare two years ago, tries to blend everything here — horror, psychological thriller and even action-film tropes — but none of them works. (Read my full review here)
5. The Last Days of American Crime
Oliver Megaton, the same director who made the awful sequels of Taken 2 (2012) and Taken 3 (2015), continues to give the action-film genre a bad name in Netflix’s The Last Days of American Crime. Running at nearly 2 hours and 30 minutes long, the movie is a huge mess that drags too much with half-baked subplots. (Read my full review here)
What’s up with Jackie Chan and Stanley Tong these days? The once-successful pair who gave us Police Story 3: Supercop (1992) and Rumble in the Bronx (1995) have increasingly become a pale shadow of their former selves. Their latest collaboration in the big-budget Vanguard is undoubtedly among the worst movies ever made in both Chan and Tong’s careers. Stanley Tong seems to forget how to put together a cohesive action setpiece, opting the ill-advised Saving Private Ryan-like choppy frame-rate shooting style while the overreliance of CGI (and a shoddy one at that too!) doesn’t help much either. If that’s not enough, Jackie Chan is mostly reduced to a secondary role. And even so, he looks tired and not worth all the risk that sees him almost drowned while filming a jet ski scene. (Read my full review here)
Bloodshot is the prime example of how a terrible comic-book movie looks like — badly-miscast lead actor (a wooden Vin Diesel in the title role), dated special effects and incomprehensible action scenes. Even the plot is just as limp and forgettable, which borrows shamelessly from better movies such as The Terminator (1984) and RoboCop (1987). As bad as it looks, Bloodshot surprisingly did well when it hits VOD streaming services following a brief theatrical release, which was more than enough for the studio (Sony) — like or not — to greenlit a sequel. (Read my full review here)
2. The New Mutants
The Fox-era X-Men franchise hits the final nail in the coffin with The New Mutants, where its multiple delays (it was originally scheduled to be released on April 2018) is more fascinating than the movie itself. Directed by Josh Boone of The Fault in Our Stars (2014) fame, the movie seems ambitious enough to blend One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975) and The Breakfast Club (1985) in the mould of comic-book horror tropes. Now, if only The New Mutants is as good as it looks on paper, we would at least have a proper send-off to compensate last year’s ill-fated X-Men: Dark Phoenix. Instead, Boone (he also responsible for co-writing the screenplay with Knate Lee) seems to be clueless about how to mesh the aforementioned movie inspirations into a cohesive whole. Everything here is as uneventful as it gets and despite the movie takes place almost entirely within the confines of a hospital facility, there’s a little sense of claustrophobic tension here. The story also takes its sweet time to get to the point while the ensemble cast of characters (among them include Anya Taylor-Joy’s Illyana Rasputin, Maisie Williams’ Rahne Sinclair and Blu Hunt’s Danielle “Dani” Moonstar) are all hopelessly underwritten. By the time The New Mutants reaches its effects-heavy third act, it’s all too late and too little.
An expensive US$175 million reboot of Hugh Lofting’s 1920 children’s book series goes down the drain at the hands of Stephen Gaghan’s feeble adaptation of Dolittle. It’s hard to believe this is the same Gaghan who previously responsible for writing Traffic (2000) and directed George Clooney to his Oscar glory in Syriana (2005). Directing his first effects-laden blockbuster, he is clearly out of his element here, beginning with a sluggish story that attempts to blend a poignant adventure tale with a family-friendly comedy vibe. Not even the amount of photorealistic CG animals can save this
train shipwreck of a movie, complete with Robert Downey Jr.’s shockingly lifeless performance as Dr Dolittle. (Read my full review here)