The Worst Films of 2022
January 03, 2023
A superspy headache machine, a holiday binge, Madea’s resurrection, Central American history, a Stephen King flameout, sunburned sharksploitation, motherhood horror, action without action, and even more Bruce Willis movies.
These are the Worst Films of 2022.
“It’s a Wonderful Binge” is a sequel to 2020’s “The Binge.” The original feature was passable entertainment, pantsing “The Purge” with its drug free-for-all concept, and it was quickly forgotten. The producers aren’t as eager to put the experience behind them, delivering a follow-up that seems like it was written in a matter of days, quickly jammed through the production process without anyone really thinking things through. “It’s a Wonderful Binge” is a bad sitcom with no discernable jokes or timing, with writer/director Jordan VanDina simply relying on crude make-em-up humor to get by. It’s a production aimed at a stoner audience, but even that crowd deserves more effort than anything VanDina is offering here.
Last year, there was a collection of Bruce Willis movies on my Ten Worst list, reflecting a career downfall for a once mighty Hollywood star. Willis’s severe medical issues made headline news this year, explaining some aspects of his professional life, and more of his bottom shelf films were released (12 in total). While it seems ghoulish to some to even mention this situation, the cold reality is that most of these endeavors are abysmal, with Willis only a small part of the problem. For “Fortress: Sniper’s Eye,” the star offers limited participation in a sequel nobody asked for, with director Josh Sternfeld putting in the bare minimum of effort to keep the feeble feature going, basically remaking 2021’s “Fortress,” a picture few people saw. In a year with more Willis than ever before, “Fortress: Sniper’s Eye” was the most punishing of the bunch.
Mark Neveldine, the co-director of “Crank,” tries to make a political actioner with “Panama,” employing Mel Gibson and Cole Hauser to bring thespian power to a dismal take on world events. “Panama” is set in 1989, offering something of a story concerning Central American hostilities, but Neveldine doesn’t put much thought into local tensions, spending more time showcasing his aggressive style, which doesn’t magically cover the feature’s severe shortcomings.
“Abandoned” is a horror film about the struggle of postpartum depression. The idea is to employ real-world trauma to fuel genre entertainment, but the execution is all wrong here, with screenwriters Erik Patterson and Jessica Scott failing to balance such psychological extremes. Director Spencer Squire isn’t much help either, resorting to manipulative scenes of child endangerment to trigger viewer reaction. “Abandoned” makes mistakes with tone and characterization, but it feels like a bad idea to begin with, with the final cut failing to inspire chills or sympathy for the characters as they deal with matters that probably shouldn’t be used for cheap thrills.
While sold to the moviegoing public as a rough and ready action film starring Lena Headey and Sam Worthington, “9 Bullets” is more in line with Hallmark Channel-style entertainment, with writer/director Gigi Gaston failing to look beyond melodrama to fill the run time. Some shootouts emerge during the feature, but “9 Bullets” doesn’t prioritize suspense, and it offers a terrible way with storytelling, keeping the endeavor frustratingly random, though Gaston probably prefers to describe her feature as “eccentric.” Either way, the movie is an uneventful chore to get through.
There’s a shark movie for every star in the sky, but only “Maneater” has musician Trace Adkins portraying a seasoned ocean hunter. Borrowing bits from “Jaws the Revenge,” “Maneater” tries to make something happen with an extremely limited budget, and one that can’t afford even passable visual effects. It’s the usual survival situation featuring a creature from the deep, yet the production can’t even reach its limited creative goals, going through the shark attack motions while the cast gets a chance to enjoy a paid vacation in paradise. At least they’re having fun. Viewers should seek their sun and surf elsewhere.
Again, Bruce Willis appeared in 12 movies in 2022, with “Wrong Place” another low-budget production trying to shape something out of the actor’s limited screen presence. “Wrong Place” definitely has the appearance of a film that was slapped together in a hurry, watching Willis and his co-stars attempt to conjure screen intensity while running around what appears to be someone’s backyard. Screenwriter Bill Lawrence and director Mike Burns want viewers to believe they’re watching a knotted tale of villainy and survival featuring characters dealing with heavy medical realities, but the endeavor is just more of the same bottom-shelf nonsense.
“Firestarter” is the second big screen attempt to do something with Stephen King’s 1980 novel. While the 1984 adaptation (starring Drew Barrymore) wasn’t a creative success, the production at least took time to explore character connections and motivations. The new “Firestarter” basically cuts to the chase to appeal to less patient viewers, with screenwriter Scott Teems dreaming up his own version of the tale. The experiment doesn’t work, with “Firestarter” struggling to make sense of its characters and violence, missing a great deal of depth as Teems focuses on action set pieces and vague relationships, massaging the material into a franchise position it hasn’t earned.
Writer/director/star Tyler Perry wanted to bring his Madea character out of retirement for one last film, trying to give the world some laughs after all the global awfulness of the last two years. I’m not sure why Perry turned to Madea to accomplish this task, with “A Madea Homecoming” as hopelessly inept and slapdash as the rest of the series. Looking to spice things up, Perry hires Brendan O’Carroll and his Mrs. Brown character to join the domestic mess, creating a war of drag performances to join the usual spattering of punishing melodrama, slapstick, and dubious life lessons. Will this truly be the last Madea picture? Considering how rushed and careless this feature is, let’s hope so.
Directors Anthony and Joe Russo were handed a fortune to make “The Gray Man,” put in charge of a superspy thriller intended to kickstart a series of gigantic actioners with star Ryan Gosling. What they actually have with “The Gray Man” is a huge mess of excruciating overacting and ugly visuals, trying to go bananas with widescreen spectacle that, possibly unintentionally, slides the endeavor into unpleasant campiness. The Russos aim to compete with Michael Bay, delivering a noisy, overlong effort, looking to tempt viewers with overkill, and they end up with a picture of extreme obnoxiousness.
Also of note:
Moonfall, There Are No Saints, Ambulance, Bullet Train, Easter Sunday, Bromates, Good Mourning, Mona Lisa and the Blood Moon, Detective Knight: Rogue, The Lair, Pursuit, Code Name Banshee, The Killing Tree, Last Seen Alive, and Home Team.