Many of the biggest titles for 2021 are movies that we expected to see in 2020. Everyone's hoping that the new year brings a reset and a return to something resembling normal life, but current pandemic numbers make us wonder when and if theaters will be able to reopen everywhere anytime soon.
As movie studios pray for business to rebound, they've announced a full slate of releases for the year. More than a few of the biggest titles have military themes, and we've got a roundup of those releases.
Anything that's scheduled for a streaming service such as Netflix, Amazon, Apple TV+ or HBO Max is almost certain to hold its announced date. Movies that are trying to stay committed to a theatrical release may have to change dates or switch to streaming. We'll try to keep readers updated throughout the year.
1. Outside the Wire
Jan. 18, Netflix
Anthony Mackie (Falcon from the Marvel movies) plays a robot soldier programmed to remove the enemy's advanced weapons from outside the wire. He's got a human partner, and there's sure to be conspiracy afoot and a big reveal of the truth before the final explosions.
2. The Mauritanian
Feb. 19, Theaters
Based on the real-life story of Guantanamo detainee Mohamedou Ould Slahi, "The Mauritanian" revisits the post-9/11 policies that saw the United States arrest those with suspected terrorism ties and hold them without charges. If they made a movie about Slahi, you can guess going in whether he turns out to be innocent.
Jodie Foster, Benedict Cumberbatch, Shailene Woodley and Tahar Rahim star in the movie directed by Oscar-winning director Kevin Macdonald.
Feb. 26, Theaters; March 12, Apple TV+
Nico Walker is a real person who served as an Army medic in Iraq and came home with an undiagnosed case of PTSD. That led to a serious heroin habit that he tried to fund by robbing banks.
He ended up serving nearly a decade in federal prison after his arrest but used that time to write "Cherry," a dynamite novel inspired by his own life, service, addiction and crimes.
Marvel's "Avengers" series directors Anthony and Joe Russo bought the rights to the book and have made a movie starring Tom Holland ("Spider-Man") as the character based on Walker. Apple acquired rights to the film and likes it so much that it's giving it a theatrical release at the end of February to qualify it for the Oscars under this year's unique COVID-inspired rules.
4. The King's Man
March 12, Theaters
In this prequel to the popular "Kingsman" spy movie series, writer/director Matthew Vaughan reveals the origins of the secret organization during World War I. The trailer suggests that the private intelligence service was born in an attempt to stop a plot to use that war to plunge the world into chaos.
The movie stars Ralph Fiennes, Djimon Hounsou, Gemma Arterton and Daniel Brühl.
5. No Time to Die
April 2, Theaters
The release of the 25th James Bond movie was the first major casualty of the COVID-19 shutdown last year, and the upcoming April date is the third one announced for the film. It's Daniel Craig's final movie in the role of 007. The producers are committed to a theatrical release, so this one could get bumped again if the public health situation doesn't improve soon.
6. Top Gun: Maverick
July 2, Theaters
We waited 35 years to find out what happened to Pete "Maverick" Mitchell, so what's another year in the grand scheme of things.
Paramount showed a few minutes of footage from "Top Gun: Maverick" in a theater last February before all this pandemic drama started, and the scenes made clear that "TG:M" features some of the most spectacular aerial footage ever filmed and that this movie is most definitely one that demands to be seen in a packed theater with a massive sound system. Fingers crossed for July.
Oct. 1, Theaters/HBO Max
Frank Herbert's 1965 novel "Dune" kicked off one of the most beloved series in science fiction, but the epic tale has never found its footing as a film or television property, despite a controversial 1980 film directed by David Lynch.
"Blade Runner 2049" and "Arrival" director Denis Villeneuve seems like a perfect choice to tell the story of the rise of Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet) from son of a spice dealer to great military leader. The trailer has gotten a great reception, so hopes are high that the filmmakers got it right this time.
8. The Last Duel
Oct. 15, Theaters
Marine veteran Adam Driver, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck and Jodie Comer star in Ridley Scott's movie based on Eric Jaer's book "The Last Duel: A True Story of Trial by Combat in Medieval France."
The book tells the story of a trial by combat that took place in 1386 after a Norman knight accused a squire of raping his wife. It's the last officially recognized judicial duel in France and has become a cultural legend in that country.
The studio has not yet released official photos or a trailer, but a quick search will give you some images of the actors in costume on set. This movie could be classic Ridley Scott. The director released the Crusades epic "Kingdom of Heaven" to mixed reviews in 2005, but the subsequent director's cut is one of Scott's very best movies. Here's hoping the lockdown gave him time to finish this one to the highest possible standard.
9. Mission: Impossible 7
Nov. 19, Theaters
Tom Cruise and director Christopher McQuarrie are making two "Mission: Impossible" movies back-to-back, and they were still filming in London in December before a holiday break.
Paramount has yet to announce a final title or release any official photos. McQuarrie continues after directing the last two (and arguably best) installments in the series, so there's reason to believe the next movie will maintain the star's notoriously high standards.
If "Top Gun: Maverick" (also from Paramount) gets bumped from its July release for any reason, look for this one to also move to summer 2022.
10. Tom Clancy's Without Remorse
TBD, Amazon Prime
"Tom Clancy's Without Remorse" is one of the highest-profile casualties of the 2020 pandemic. Originally slated to launch a new franchise for "Creed" and "Black Panther" star Michael B. Jordan, Paramount has sold the rights to Amazon Prime for a 2021 streaming release on a not-yet-announced date.
"Sicario: Day of the Soldado" director Stefan Sollima made the movie from a screenplay by Taylor Sheridan (both "Sicario" movies, "Hell or High Water" and the "Yellowstone" series) and Will Clark ("The Right Stuff" series).
Jordan plays former Navy SEAL John T. Clark, a character introduced in Clancy's Jack Ryan books and spun off into his own successful series, while simultaneously continuing to appear in the Jack Ryan books.
Amazon has enjoyed success and acclaim for its "Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan" series starring John Krasinski, so the streamer seems like a logical home for this movie.
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