Action Flicks I Couldn't Care More About: First and foremost -- Watchmen (March 6th). It's one hell of a graphic novel and looks to be one hell of an adaptation (with or without the Giant Blank), but the only problem is it may not hit theaters on time if 20th Century Fox has anything to say about it. Both Fox and Warner Brothers are fighting over who actually owns the rights, and if a judge favors Fox comes January 20th (when the court date is set), we're looking at a delayed release and a whole ton of angry fans. Then there's Public Enemies (July 1st), which has me sold on not the subject matter, but sheer pedigree: Michael Mann directs Johnny Depp and Christian Bale as '30s gangsters. (It doesn't hurt that the earliest word ranges from damn good to great.) On the skimpier side, I can only hope that Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (July 17th) streamlines its source material as the previous one had, and I can only hope that Crank 2: High Voltage (April 17th) lives up/down to the depravity of its predecessor. There's one last action movie that I couldn't care more about because, well, I've already seen a version of it. The international cut of Taken (January 30th, though reportedly opening with some R-dodging trims) is about as brisk and butt-kicking as one might hope out of a man-on-a-mission kidnapping thriller, and if you disagree, I'll send Liam Neeson to change your mind.
Action Flicks That I Hope Surprise Me: Delay often equals dismay in the world of film, but I do hope that Mickey Rourke playing cat to Diane Lane's mouse wields better results in Killshot (January 23rd) than the ol' Weinstein Shuffle might have us believe. Also opening on the 23rd in limited release is Outlander, which -- if I've got this right -- is about an alien being (James Caviezel) who helps proper Vikings defeat an alien creature. If that premise doesn't have potential, I don't know what does. I'm getting some Jumper vibes from the telekinetic antics of Push (February 6th), but we'll see, and I'm drawn to The International (February 13th) if only to find out if director Tom Tykwer was drawn to the project by anything but a paycheck. I hope that X-Men Origins: Wolverine (May 1st) and Terminator: Salvation (May 22nd) are better than their respective third parts, and I hope that Star Trek (May 8th) will satisfy the Trekkies without leaving the rest of us out in the cold. May Fast & Furious (April 3rd) be as fun as the first one was (and the next two struggled to be), and may Inglourious Basterds (August 21st) be worth Tarantino's proud typographical errors. With any luck, Avatar (December 18th) will live up to James Cameron's determination to Revolutionize Everything We Know About Movies Forever, and Game (September 4th) will match the twisted track record of Neveldine/Taylor to date (see: Crank).
Those Which Fell In Between: Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson + kids x more explosions than The Game Plan had = Race to Witch Mountain (March 13th) ... WWE wrestler John Cena goes after a kidnapped missus in a Fox film, just as he had in The Marine, with 12 Rounds (March 27th) ... a misplaced drug delivery leads to urban action-comedy hijinks in Next Day Air (May 8th) ... John Travolta and Denzel Washington help botch a classic in Tony Scott's remake of The Taking of Pelham 123 (June 12th) ... Roland Emmerich is back at his big-budget doomsday antics with 2012 (July 10th) ... armored truck operators direct a heist at themselves in, um, Armored (Sept. 18th) ... and Bruce Willis wants to know who's killing the lifelike cyborgs of The Surrogates (Sept. 25th).