New Movies to Watch This Week: Russell Crowe in ‘Unhinged,’ ‘Train to Busan’ Sequel ‘Peninsula’

Unhinged Movie Russel Crowe Road Rage
Courtesy of Skip Bolen/Solstice Studios

Lagging a few weeks behind the rest of the world (where Russell Crowe road-rage thriller “Unhinged” released in several territories late last month), the United States is slowly seeing cinemas reopen in anticipation of Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” — still optimistically dated for Sept. 3.

But that doesn’t mean film fans don’t have options, opening on drive-in screens, virtual cinemas and subscriptions services.

With more than 30 new movies releasing in the U.S. this week, Variety helps steer you to the most interesting of these choices. Take your pick of everything from hard-hitting dramas — including stirring Black history lessons “The 24th” and “Emperor” — to action movies such as “Cut Throat City” and “Train to Busan” sequel “Peninsula.” Family audiences will find “The One and Only Ivan” on Disney Plus, while those with more twisted sensibilities can choose to watch a “The Most Dangerous Game”-inspired humans-hunting-humans movie: Cambodian thriller “The Prey.”

Below, find excerpts from the Variety reviews of these and more films — or check out a more detailed list of movies and TV shows to stream here.

Lazy loaded image
The 24th Courtesy of Vertical Entertainment

New Releases on Demand and in Select Theaters

The 24th (Kevin Willmott)
Distributor: Vertical Entertainment
Where to Find It: Amazon Prime Video 
“24th” is a lightly fictionalized retelling of the Camp Logan mutiny of 1917, in which an all-Black Army battalion took up arms in the streets of Houston after multiple incidents of brutality from the local police, leading to what was at the time the largest murder trial in American history. Buoyed by a charismatic performance from star and co-screenwriter Trai Byers, “The 24th” can at times be cumbersomely didactic and formulaic, but it finds plenty of contemporary relevance in a story that should be far more widely known than it is. — Dennis Harvey
Read the full review

The August Virgin (Jonás Trueba)
Distributor: Outsider Pictures
Where to Find It: Available in virtual cinemas
“The August Virgin” runs well over two hours, when 80 minutes probably would have done just fine, but the indolent pace is Trueba’s choice, and the challenge is ours to embrace the film’s laid-back vibe, to tune ourselves to the subtleties of what must be on the mind of Eva (co-writer Itsaso Arana). She doesn’t talk much, preferring to listen, and yet, there are scenes when she becomes quite animated, initiating contact with others, including an edgy performance artist, an amateur Reiki practitioner and a brooding stranger she spots leaning over the edge of an abandoned bridge. — Peter Debruge
Read the full review

Coup 53 (Taghi Amirani)
Distributor: Self-released
Where to Find It: Available in select theaters and via video-on-demand services In a past interview, Amirani himself has jokily referred to his years-in-the-making effort as “a prequel to Ben Affleck’s ‘Argo’” — an accurate enough description, except, rather than a swift political thriller, “Coup 53” often plays like a lengthy lecture or a formal procedural delivered by what feels like an endless string of talking heads. This educational approach is not always a bad thing for a slice of history not as commonly known to the mainstream public, but key to understanding today’s clash between Iran and U.S., along with the present-day situation in the Middle East. — Tomris Laffly
Read the full review

Cut Throat City (The RZA)
Distributor: Well Go USA
Where to Find It: Select AMC Theaters
“Cut Throat City” is not a caper movie. It’s a story of lost lives hanging in the balance, looking anywhere they can for salvation. It’s easy to see the elements of a good movie here: an ambitious drama set in the age-old swamp of New Orleans, a place where cops and criminals have forever scratched each other’s backs. The movie features a couple of rival crime bosses (played by T.I. and Terrence Howard) who mesmerize the camera. Yet when these two aren’t on screen, “Cut Throat City” is a slipshod, desultory affair, built around a story hook that’s far from convincing. — Owen Gleiberman
Read the full review

Desert One (Barbara Kopple)
Distributor: Greenwich Entertainment
Where to Find It: Select virtual cinemas across the country
This engrossing documentary tells the story of Operation Eagle Claw, the famously messed-up Delta Force mission that was designed to bring an immediate end to the Iran-hostage crisis, by interviewing a number of the participants: commanders, soldiers, American hostages, former President Carter. It brings you up close to the events. You emerge from “Desert One” knowing certain aspects of the Iran-hostage crisis better than you did before. That makes it a worthy film, and an absorbing one. — Owen Gleiberman
Read the full review

Emperor (Jayro Bustamante)
Distributor: Universal
Where to Find It: YouTube
When history books speak of the raid on Harpers Ferry, they tend to focus on abolitionist leader John Brown, which gives an accurate but incomplete picture. “Emperor” re-centers the telling, broadening this early “white savior” story to include the Black men who joined the cause. In the vein of Nate Parker’s ill-fated Nat Turner biopic “The Birth of a Nation,” “Emperor” has found a Black hero to champion during this dark chapter of American history. Broad and occasionally too simplistic at times, both films depict a figure forged by suffering who rises up to lead a rebellion. — Peter Debruge
Read the full review

The Prey (Jimmy Henderson)
Distributor: Dark Star Pictures
Where to Find It: Virtual cinemas such as Alamo on Demand starting Aug. 21, and Amazon and other VOD providers on Aug. 25
“The Prey” takes the classic “The Most Dangerous Game” scenario for a spin in the Cambodian jungle. Centered on a wrongly jailed cop being stalked by cashed-up creeps who get their kicks by hunting humans, this survival thriller doesn’t bring anything significantly new to the table but the frequency and quality of its gunplay and martial arts combat should keep most action fans happy. “The Prey” can’t match “Jailbreak” for sheer excitement but does suggest that with more original and ambitious material Henderson could become a real force in Asian genre cinema. — Richard Kuipers
Read the full review

Random Acts of Violence (Jay Baruchel)
Distributor: Shudder
Where to Find It: Shudder
Life imitates art imitating life in “Random Acts of Violence.” In this graphic novel adaptation, a comic book creator discovers he’s being trailed by a real-life fiend enacting crimes he’d fictionalized from a serial killer’s exploits some years prior. What was already quite multimedia-meta enough in its original print incarnation becomes a bit much so here, as a de facto slasher movie filtered though a comic-book sensibility dramatizes a comic book that itself was an homage to slasher movies. — Dennis Harvey
Read the full review

Skin: A History of Nudity in the Movies (Danny Wolf)
Distributor: Quiver Distribution
Where to Find It: Amazon Prime Video
Even those who consider themselves experts in the subject will find a provocative treasure trove of images and anecdotes in this breezy, open-eyed and often encyclopedic compendium of all the ways the cinema has celebrated, exploited and negotiated the power of the naked body. The film opens with a montage of actors and directors (Sean Young, Eric Roberts, Peter Bogdanovich) recalling the first movie they ever saw that had nudity in it, and that allows the film, in its early moments, to leap through some of Nudity’s Greatest Hits. — Owen Gleiberman
Read the full review

Tesla (Michael Almereyda)
Distributor: IFC Films
Where to Find It: Amazon Prime Video
Inventor Nikola Tesla is more popular today than when he died penniless in a New York hotel in 1943. Cool kid supreme Ethan Hawke brings cerebral ennui to this theatrical biopic, which waltzes through the Serbian immigrant’s partnerships with Thomas Edison, George Westinghouse and J.P. Morgan, and his rumored flirtations with Morgan’s daughter Anne and the actress Sarah Bernhardt. If there’s a big idea in “Tesla,” it’s hard to see — and not just because the film is claustrophobically set indoors, and lit by candles, matches, and glowing bulbs. — Amy Nicholson
Read the full review

Train to Busan Presents: Peninusla (Yeon Sang-ho)
Distributor: Well Go USA
Where to Find It: Select AMC Theatres
According to Yeon’s cynical worldview, dark-hearted humans can be far scarier than the undead. The same holds true in the director’s ugly and all-around unpleasant “Peninsula,” which picks up four years later with a much bleaker vision for the country. It’s not that the zombies aren’t a threat (there’s a seemingly infinite supply of them lurking out there), but they’re practically incidental in a sequel that strives for more of a “Mad Max” feel, pitting four desperadoes against the heavily armed humans who now run Incheon. — Peter Debruge
Read the full review

Unhinged (Derrick Borte)
Distributor: Solstice Studios
Where to Find It: Select AMC Theatres
Even before the title credit appears on screen, the film has already fulfilled its promise: Road-rage maniac Russell Crowe sure is unhinged. From there on, the thriller can never top the gripping, grisly pull of that first scene. That comes down to a structural miscalculation: If you begin your film about a maniac with the psycho-meter dialed up to 11, there’s nowhere to go but sideways. And while you can still do a lot of spectacular damage going sideways — as “Unhinged” goes on to demonstrate in a series of niftily choreographed, lane-weaving car chases — any dramatic rewards are scant. — Guy Lodge
Read the full review

Words on Bathroom Walls (Thor Freudenthal)
Distributor: Roadside Attractions
Where to Find It: Select theaters
A teen movie for the generation of mental health awareness, this slick, well-acted adaptation of Julia Walton’s popular YA novel complicates typical coming-of-age stakes and obstacles with the disorienting realities of the hero’s diagnosed schizophrenia, giving unusual, anxious treatment to the genre’s standard set pieces — from dreamy prom night to rousing graduation speech — along the way. If “Words on Bathroom Walls” hits you in the heart in the end, there’s a sheen of glibness to be peeled away first. — Guy Lodge
Read the full review

Lazy loaded image
Chemical Hearts Courtesy of Amazon Studios

Exclusive to Amazon Prime

Chemical Hearts (Richard Tanne)
Where to Find It: Amazon Prime Video
With its sadcore stylings, Pablo Neruda quotations, and a curated indie soundtrack, the film can’t help but resemble a millennial adult’s ideal of what first love should have been like. “Chemical Hearts” is largely dependent on its leads, then, to make it more moving picture than mood board. As anxious senior-year lovers battling oversized emotional baggage to see their relationship through to graduation day, Lili Reinhart (“Riverdale”) and Austin Abrams (“Euphoria”) commit valiantly and sensitively to slender characters who never stop telling us how they’re feeling. — Guy Lodge
Read the full review

Lazy loaded image
Work It Courtesy of Brendan Adam-Zwelling/Netflix

Exclusive to Netflix

Work It (Laura Terruso)
Where to Find It: Streaming on Netflix
Once in a weird while, a movie mimics the flaws — and charms — of its protagonist’s journey to an uncanny degree. Like high schooler Quinn Ackermann, a two-left-footer who does a crash course in dancing in order to get into her first-choice college, “Work It” often feels like it too crammed in hopes of becoming a hit. Disney Channel-crafted pop star Sabrina Carpenter leads a cast packed with amiable lovelies, many of whom have fans and social media followings made up of folks who won’t suffer genre fatigue after years of movies that have done this song-and-dance better. — Lisa Kennedy
Read the full review

Lazy loaded image
Howard Courtesy of Disney Plus

Exclusive to Disney Plus

The One and Only Ivan (Thea Sharrock)
Where to Find It: Disney Plus
It’s unusual to encounter a mainstream kiddie flick as shambling and relaxed and old-school quiet as “The One and Only Ivan.” We are, in fact, so used to seeing children’s entertainment fueled by the ADD impulse that you may think, for a while, that there’s too little going on in the movie, that it’s taking its sweet time for no good reason. But “The One and Only Ivan” pays off in a soulful way. Based on a captivating true story, it tells the tale of a silverback gorilla, Ivan (voiced by Sam Rockwell), who dreams of being free. — Owen Gleiberman
Read the full review