Wondering what to watch? The last weekend of February is a fairly quiet one as far as new streaming titles are concerned, even though some of the highlights are themselves pretty loud in terms of their actual content.
There are roaring forest fires and hot pursuits of the Angelina Jolie-starring Those Who Wish Me Dead, now on Prime Video, while on BBC iPlayer, there’s the terrifying void of Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity (now 10 years old this year).
Read more: Everything new on Netflix in February
On the longer and more tortured side of things, Steven Spielberg’s Munich, one of his darkest films as well as one of his finest, is showing on Amazon’s free streaming service, Freevee.
Please note that a subscription may be required to watch.
Those Who Wish Me Dead (2021) | Prime Video (pick of the week)
After a number of exciting, tightly-paced thrillers as a screenwriter — including Sicario and Hell or High Water — Taylor Sheridan tried his hand at directing with Wind River to mixed results.
Based on the book of the same name by Michael Koryta, Those Who Wish Me Dead is more palatable; a solid cat-and-mouse action thriller that you could imagine discovering on television in the midweek, the Montana-set film following Angelina Jolie as Hannah, a wildland firefighter known as a smokejumper.
Read more: Everything new on Prime Video in February
Based in a forest tower, as she awaits a psych evaluation and sifts through some on-the-job trauma (a catalyst for her frequently rogue behaviour), Hannah comes across young boy pursued by two assassins: ‘Jack’ (Aiden Gillen) and ‘Patrick’ (Nicholas Hoult). The boy in question is carrying evidence that got his forensic accountant father killed, and he’s tasked with getting it into the right hands, and Hannah has to help him evade his would-be killers amidst a raging forest fire.
Watch a trailer for Those Who Wish Me Dead
As time has gone on Sheridan’s work has felt more throwaway than thoughtful, as in High or High Water’s cops and robbers thrills amid a disillusioned American working class. Even with its paranoia and financial crimes subplot Those Who Wish Me Dead — aside from its ‘everyday heroes’ flavouring — feels a little rote.
But it also stands apart by virtue of existing in a landscape where Hollywood movies seem to have to set up other movies in a cinematic web: that makes Those Who Wish Me Dead feel somewhat unique beyond its fairly novel combination of natural disaster and neo-western vibes.
Sheridan’s usual quirks — grizzled sheriffs wearing Stetsons and adversarial banter — also makes things go down easier. The film is somewhat overburdened with interlocking subplots, it could do with more focus on the film’s real draw: Angelina Jolie leading a throwback thriller.
The film’s narrative barely gives a moment for her to do some character work before throwing her into the plot, but it’s fun to watch her change up between prickly action heroine and tortured first responder.
Munich (2005) | Freevee on Prime Video
While his new feature film The Fabelmans winds up its theatrical run, one of Steven Spielberg’s other masterpieces Munich is wrapped up more in a response to a Bush-era attitude of nationalist revenge. His 2005 film follows a group of Mossad agents out for blood following the 1972 Munich Olympic games hostage situation and it’s by far Spielberg thorniest, angriest film.
It's also a follow-up to the traumatised atmosphere of War of the Worlds, which also echoed 9/11 through its horrific, on-the-ground perspective of urban destruction. Munich is about what comes after, and it is disgusted with what it sees: ugly, state-sanctioned murder.
Read more: Everything new on NOW in February
Its protagonists (including a pre-Bond Daniel Craig) are cruel and in the end they can’t escape their own cruelty, violence even permeating intimate moments as in the (frequently mocked) sex scene towards the film’s end.
Still, one of Spielberg’s most striking works.
Also new on Prime Video: Bandit (2023), Die Hart (2023)
Gravity (2013) | BBC iPlayer
Never one to turn down the opportunity for a protracted long take, Alfonso Cuaron’s science fiction survival thriller Gravity sprints out the gates with one and doesn’t stop for 17 minutes. Its view of Earth from a space shuttle turns from cosmic serenity to isolating terror, as a routine spacewalk and repair mission goes completely sideways. Debris from a satellite strikes the shuttle, destroying it, leaving Dr Ryan Stone (played by Sandra Bullock) floating adrift in space, and quickly running out of oxygen.
Read more: Everything new on Disney+ in February
Long takes can often be overpraised, lauding the absence of a cut without considering the value of the cut, but in the case of Gravity its a supremely effective exercise, for its tracking of the astronauts’ changing emotions in real time and the emphasis on the clock ticking once they realise they’re in danger. Its impact is perhaps softened from its extravagant 3D presentation on its initial release – 10 years ago this year – but it's still captivating, and an incredibly immersive use of digital VFX.
Watch: Alfonso Cuaron and Tim Webber share the secrets of Gravity
The rest of the film is solid too, full of dizzying momentum, claustrophobic shots from inside Ryan’s helmet as well as terrifying isolation in the abyss as her and veteran astronaut Matt Kowalsky (George Clooney, charming as ever) try and make their way to safety.
Cuaron's visual metaphors concerning rebirth are overdone, but the survival element is thrilling enough to cover for it.
Also new on BBC iPlayer: The Lost Boys (1987)