155 films of 2016 ranked worst to best: #135-#111
'Bad' films are not arbitrarily bad. Many are bad simply because they are poorly told stories, have shallow characters or lack confidence in their film's premise.
Many of the films on this list have the promise of being great, compelling stories - but somewhere along the line, the filmmakers made storytelling decisions that crippled these stories. And some of the movies listed here are simply flat out stupid.
But whatever the reason, these 25 films found themselves on the F-list of 2016 movies.
Two very different movies were mashed together to make this singular, flat docudrama. The front half is tedious and the back half (while more interesting) is little more than a really long shootout.
The great Jesse Owens deserves better than this paint-by-the-numbers biopic. "Race" goes through all the requisite and predictable motions of any mundane, half-hearted biopic.
#133: 'Elvis & Nixon'
Two great actors do broad impersonations of eccentric characters being weird. Then the third act is happy just to let them be weird together in a room. Roll credits. So much of this film is filler that adds little value to the overall storytelling.
There's a gripping and intense thriller within "Mojave," but one that may have been better served as a short film instead of drawing it out to a 90-minute feature film.
The only thing "Equals" has going for it: impeccable production design. Otherwise, the premise itself isn't exactly breaking new ground and its less-than-charismatic or engaging leads do their best to sap any sort of life or humanity from this film.
#130: 'Jason Bourne'
And this is why film studios should leave well enough alone. The "Bourne Ultimatum" concluded the original Bourne trilogy on a high note and completed a rare feat: each sequel improved upon its predecessor. That streak ended with "Jason Bourne" - a film that goes through all the motions of a now tiring Bourne plot formula. It's odd to watch a soulless Bourne film knowing it was directed by the same filmmaker behind the best films of the series. It's the film equivalent of a zombie - something that looks and moves sort of like a person, but lacks a brain or heart.
#129: 'Hardcore Henry'
The first-person gimmick tires quickly. It's obvious more time was invested in stunt choreography than plot development.
Another novel concept that may have worked better as a short film. There's just not enough to justify the feature-length treatment for "Zoom."
#127: 'The Purge: Election Year'
Combining the film's survival horror core with the social themes elevates "Election Year" above its predecessors. That said, "Election Year" is still a relatively shallow (if entertaining) horror-action flick.
#126: 'Suicide Squad'
Warner Bros. should stop making DC films. This film's plot and logic are equally unclear - "Suicide Squad" is just too stupid to tell even its own dumb story. The threat is vague and the main characters are non-dimensional goons.
It's difficult to care or emotionally invest in a character so defiantly stubborn.
#124: 'Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk'
"Halftime Walk" beats the audience other the head with its otherwise noble themes. Great films present a scenario and allow the audience to emotionally connect with the character and the situation -- but manipulative works like "Halftime Walk" practically tells the audience what emotion to feel at any given moment (without offering genuine plot justification).
Begins as a mildly interesting tale of isolation and becomes an exercise in deep internal conflict. Then it settles into a lazy romance before completely giving up and just becoming an aggressively stupid action movie.
#122: 'Everybody Wants Some!!'
"Locker Room Talk: The Movie." Only director Richard Linklater's ability to create/establish strong chemistry between the bros makes this annoying/nostalgic drivel at all watchable.
This is the cinematic equivilant of empty calories.
This indie film goes out of its way to be as creepy and unsettling as possible - but that's not the problem with "Lamb." Any film that challenges the audience with such a patently inappropriate premise must justify its premise. "Lamb" makes little to no effort to justify the odd connection between a middle-aged man and an 11-year-old girl.
#119: 'Ma Ma'
This meandering movie feels like 3 or 4 indie dramas all crushed together into one muddled drama.
A plot structure rife with story cheats and underdeveloped narrative twists/turns undermines a thoughtful performance and intriguing premise.
Tom Hanks is a mortal man after all. The Robert Langdon series of movies are embarrassingly bad.
Too many characters with just the minimal amount of storytelling invested in them -- but not enough to truly care who will win the singing competition.
#115: 'Pride and Prejudice and Zombies'
A solidly dumb and fun realization of a dumb and fun premise. Little chance this film could have been much better - but it could have been much worse.
Unclear plot and a super vague antagonist make it difficult to care at all about the characters or plot. The fact that the third act is a CGI cartoon is just one of many problems with this misguided reboot.
Way too many moving parts for a movie this basic and this dumb.
#112: 'X-Men: Apocalypse'
Bigger stakes follows a law of diminishing returns. Because the "fate of the world" is in the hands of the heroes, the plot doesn't actually matter. The audience expects the X-Men to save the world -- and this film offers no other stakes for the heroes. So we know they will succeed in the movie's overt plot, however, we know nothing else is at stake.
#111: 'Live By Night'
Easily the most egregious uses of voice-over of 2016. Ben Affleck's character just tells the story via voice-over. This might as well be a book on tape. With little coherent direction, "Live By Night" is a meandering story about a crime boss doing business in Tampa. Then, at the very last minute, "Live By Night" tries to cobble together a simple and insipid "point" in a disastrous attempt to turn an aimless crime flick into some sort of lame morality play.