The 10 Best Movies on Redbox Free On Demand (January 2021)

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The 10 Best Movies on Redbox Free On Demand (January 2021)

Redbox, known best for its quick-and-easy rentals of new and classic movies, has also launched its own free streaming platform: Redbox Free On Demand. Following the strategy of its rental offerings (the best of which you can find here), the commercial-driven streamer has plenty of classic hits and cult favorites—spanning everything from indie fare to the kind of horror and action films that’ll please hardcore genre devotees. In January, Redbox Free On Demand has bolstered its horror offerings and its general library by quite a bit, which is to be expected for a service in its second month of life. In fact, only one movie left our list—The Descent—but was quickly replaced by a slew of new scary films.

Supplementing our larger free and On Demand lists, the former of which collects plenty of other AVOD (ad-based video on demand) services, this Redbox streaming list highlights the best of what the streamer has to offer if sitting through a few advertisements is more worth it to you than paying a rental fee. And it couldn’t be easier to start watching, with no account sign-up necessary. You can access Redbox Free On Demand on Roku, iOS, Android mobile and TVs, and Vizio devices—with LG, Xbox, Samsung, and Google Chromecast support on the way.

In addition to Redbox Free On Demand content, you can also check out our guides to the best movies on Netflix, Amazon Prime, HBO Max, Hulu, Disney+, Showtime, and Cinemax. Or visit all our Paste Movie Guides.

Here are the 10 best movies on Redbox Free On Demand:

1. Kicking and Screaming

kicking-screaming.jpg Year: 1995
Director: Noah Baumbach
Stars: Josh Hamilton, Eric Stoltz, Elliott Gould
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 57%
Rating: R
Runtime: 96 minutes

The thing about college graduation is that you’re expected to do something afterward. As always, though, the movies are here for us. Young filmmakers have long exorcised those one or two (or seven) years after graduation, wherein caustic anxiety about the future leads well-educated twentysomethings to enter an extended period of uselessness on their way to whatever’s next. Thus emerged this talky cousin of the coming-of-age movie, which exists mostly to comfort new generations of grads and depress older ones. In the debut feature from writer-director Noah Baumbach, a group of liberal-arts types graduate and then sit around and lament a future they don’t bother to confront: “Oh, I’ve been to Prague. Well, I haven’t ‘been to Prague’ been to Prague, but I know that thing, I know that ‘stop-shaving-your-armpits, read-The Unbearable Lightness of Being, fall-in-love-with-a-sculptor, now-I-know-how-bad-American-coffee-is thing.’” The film both celebrates and satirizes that first post-collegiate year, and it gave the world a glimpse of Baumbach’s ability to remind us all of the realness and rawness of that youthful angst. Though it declines to wrap up tidily, there’s some comfort in that, too. —Jeffrey Bloomer

2. Battle Royale

Year: 2000
Director: Kinji Fukasaku
Stars: Tatsuya Fujiwara, Aki Maeda, Tarô Yamamoto
Genre: Action
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 88%
Rating: R
Runtime: 114 minutes

It’s OK to compare Battle Royale to The Hunger Games movies—or, rather, to find how the lasting accomplishments of the latter franchise were essentially done better and with so much more efficiency by the former—because you probably will anyway. Battle Royale, like the immensely successful four-film crash course in crafting an action star who is really only a symbol of an action star, chronicles a government-sanctioned battle to the death between a group of teens on a weird, weapon-strewn island. (There are even regular island-wide announcements of the day’s dead as the sun sets on the remaining children.) Yet, Battle Royale is so lean in its exposition, so uninterested in dragging out its symbolism or metaphor, that one can’t help but marvel at how cleanly Fukasaku (who had a full career behind him when he made this, only three years before he died) can lend depth to these children, building stakes around them to the point that their deaths matter and their doomed plights sting. What the director can do with such a tenuous premise (which The Hunger Games takes multiple films to do, and without a single ounce of levity) is astounding—plus, he wrangled Beat Takeshi Kitano to play the President Snow-type character, which Kitano does to near-perfection. That Battle Royale II sets out to up the stakes of the first film, especially given the first film’s crazy success in Japan, is to be expected, but stick to the first: Battle Royale will make you care about kids murdering each other more than you (probably) would anyway. —Dom Sinacola

3. Ghost in the Shell

ghost-in-the-shell.jpg Year: 1995
Director: Mamoru Oshii
Stars: Mimi Woods, Richard George, William Frederick
Genre: Anime, Science-Fiction
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 96%
Rating: R
Runtime: 82 minutes

It’s difficult to overstate how enormous of an influence Ghost in the Shell exerts over not only the cultural and aesthetic evolution of Japanese animation, but over the shape of science-fiction cinema as a whole in the 21st century. Adapted from Masamune Shirow’s original 1989 manga, the film is set in the mid-21st century, a world populated by cyborgs in artificial prosthetic bodies, in the fictional Japanese metropolis of Niihama. Ghost in the Shell follows the story of Major Motoko Kusanagi, the commander of a domestic special ops task-force known as Public Security Section 9, who begins to question the nature of her own humanity surrounded by a world of artificiality. When Motoko and her team are assigned to apprehend the mysterious Puppet Master, an elusive hacker thought to be one of the most dangerous criminals on the planet, they are set chasing after a series of crimes perpetrated by the Puppet Master’s unwitting pawns before the seemingly unrelated events coalesce into a pattern that circles back to one person: the Major herself. When Ghost in the Shell first premiered in Japan, it was greeted as nothing short of a tour de force that would later go on to amass an immense cult following in the states. The film garnered the praise of directors such as James Cameron and the Wachowski sisters (whose late-century cyberpunk classic The Matrix is philosophically indebted to the trail blazed by Oshii’s precedent). Everything about Ghost in the Shell shouts polish and depth, from the ramshackle markets and claustrophobic corridors inspired by the likeness of Kowloon Walled City to the sound design, evident from Kenji Kawai’s sorrowful score, to the sheer concussive punch of every bullet firing across the screen. Oshii took Shirow’s source material and arguably surpassed it, making an already heady science-fiction action drama into a proto-Kurzweilian fable about the dawn of machine intelligence. Ghost in the Shell is more than a cornerstone of cyberpunk fiction, more essential in this day and age than it was over 20 years ago: a story about what it means to craft one’s self in the digital age, a time where the concept of truth feels as mercurial as the net is vast and infinite. —Toussaint Egan

4. Nightbreed

nightbreed poster (Custom).jpg
Year: 1990
Director: Clive Barker
Stars: Craig Sheffer, Anne Bobby, David Cronenberg, Charlie Haid, Hugh Quarshie, Hugh Ross
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 39%
Rating: R
Runtime: 99 minutes

Nightbreed is an odd duck of a movie, stranded somewhere between legitimate horror film and dark fantasy story. Clive Barker directs, only a few years after Hellraiser, but here his ambition perhaps got the best of him. It’s pretty clear that he wanted Nightbreed to be something akin to a horror epic, a movie with a profound message about identity, acceptance and community. In execution, though, it has a hard time picking what tone it’s supposed to be emanating. Sometimes it’s darkly humorous. Sometimes it’s legitimately spooky. Other times you’re not sure whether you’re supposed to be taking the action on screen seriously or not. One thing that is spectacular throughout is the art direction, sets, costuming and makeup. Some of the character designs may come off as “silly,” but just as many of them are likely to end up in your nightmares. Nightbreed is a mixed bag, a would-be inspiring story about monsters trying to build a safe community to peacefully live their lives, but lacking the iconic nature of Barker’s most famous creations. —Jim Vorel

5. Bernie

bernie.jpg Year: 2011
Director: Richard Linklater
Stars: Jack Black, Matthew McConaughey, Shirley MacLaine
Genre: Comedy
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 88%
Rating: NR
Runtime: 104 minutes

Bernie is as much about the town of Carthage, Texas, as it is about its infamous resident Bernie Tiede (Jack Black), the town’s mortician and prime suspect in the murder of one of its most despised citizens, Marjorie Nugent (Shirley MacLaine). Unlike Nugent, Bernie is conspicuously loved by all. When he’s not helping direct the high school musical, he’s teaching Sunday school. Like a well-played mystery, Linklater’s excellent, darkly humorous (and true) story is interspersed with tantalizing interviews of the community’s residents. Linklater uses real East Texas folks to play the parts, a device that serves as the perfect balance against the drama that leads up to Bernie’s fatal encounter with the rich bitch of a widow. The comedy is sharp, with some of the film’s best lines coming from those townsfolk. —Tim Basham

6. The Brothers Bloom

Year: 2009
Director: Rian Johnson
Stars: Rachel Weisz, Adrien Brody, Mark Ruffalo, Rinko Kikuchi
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 68%
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 109 minutes

“He writes his cons the way dead Russians write novels”—this line from The Brothers Bloom not only illustrates the skills of schemer Stephen (Mark Ruffalo), but it also perfectly describes director Rian Johnson’s gift for constructing neo-noir masterpieces that manipulate the emotions of his audiences with enthralling grift. Featuring a cast that can do no wrong, The Brothers Bloom stars Ruffalo and Adrien Brody as a pair of fraternal conmen who mark an eccentric heiress—the magnetic Rachel Weisz—for her fortune. After crafting an entire language of hard-boiled vernacular in his jarring debut, Brick, Johnson makes a more approachable film along a syncopated rhythm of saturated camera pans and clever plot beats. But Ruffalo, Brody and Weisz don’t rest on plot twists and double crosses alone; their melancholic and moving characterization dominates the film as much as the sleight-of-hand on the main stage. A near-perfect symphony of intellect and entertainment, The Brothers Bloom forms one the most memorable cinematic families this side of the Tenenbaums. —Sean Edgar

7. Kickboxer

kickboxer.jpg Year: 1989
Directors: Mark DiSalle, David Worth
Stars: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Michel Qissi, Dennis Alexio, Dennis Chan, Rochelle Ashana
Genre: Action & Adventure
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 30%
Rating: R
Runtime: 105 minutes

Like an unofficial sequel to 1988’s Bloodsport—but more a refining than a new adventure for that movie’s Frank Dux (Jean-Claude Van Damme)—Kickboxer is meatier, meaner, and sweatier than its comparatively tame predecessor. In the course of two years, Van Damme had starred in four action films, his less dependable two (Black Eagle and the inimitable Cyborg, directed by Albert Pyun, who’d go on to helm the sequel) sandwiched between a pair of nearly identical films that pretty much soldered Van Damme’s fully-formed cinematic persona to his blocky, unblemished, well-bred Belgian forehead. It could be said that every Van Damme movie is pretty much every other Van Damme movie, but Kickboxer claims this idea isn’t such a bad one. If time is just a flat circle, let us relish the moment that Van Damme’s mutantly macho Kurt Sloane high-kicks the smarmy grin off the face of psychotic rapist Tong Po (Michel Qissi)—over and over and over again. As if it were only the first time. —Dom Sinacola

8. Haywire

haywire-movie-poster.jpg Year: 2012
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Stars: Gina Carano, Michael Douglas, Ewan McGregor, Channing Tatum, Antonio Banderas, Michael Fassbender, Bill Paxton
Genre: Action
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 80%
Rating: R
Runtime: 93 minutes

With a needlessly complicated plot and a big enough budget to accommodate it, Steven Soderbergh’s take on DTV action thrillers seems to exist for the sake of refuting most established rules of DTV action-thriller filmmaking. Soderbergh doesn’t just break the 180-degree line, he shatters it repeatedly, but rather than strand the viewer in an amorphous geographic space while two people confusingly beat the pulp from each other, he offers up a singular cinematic language that thrives on both visceral style and astounding clarity. “No you shouldn’t think of her as being a woman. No, that would be a mistake,” slippery government operative Kenneth (Ewan McGregor) advises spy assassin (or assassin spy?) Paul (Michael Fassbender) about Mallory Kane (Gina Carano), our rogue and extremely capable hero. So Haywire proceeds, as Kenneth gets over getting dumped by Mallory by conspiring to kill her. Against the grain of Olivier Megaton’s nauseating Taken movies and Paul Greengrass’s inscrutable Bourne installments, Soderbergh follows Mallory from dingy European hallway to small diner in upstate new York to nice hotel room in Dublin, the empirical nature of the locations and the immediate athleticism of her brawls—typically just Carano and an A-list actor game to get grody—keeping all the action understandable even as it’s endlessly thrilling. Soderbergh trusts his audience to intuit what’s going on, and even if you don’t follow the international espionage plot, the violence tells a story known well enough: Mallory must prove herself at every confrontation, underestimated by every man she pummels her way through, punished for ever trusting them in the first place. It’s bleak, maybe, but it’s also really satisfying to watch her kick the shit out of some cops. —Dom Sinacola

9. The Proposition

Year: 2005
Director: John Hillcoat
Stars: Guy Pearce, Ray Winstone, Emily Watson, John Hurt
Genre: Western
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 85%
Rating: R
Runtime: 104 minutes

If you’ve ever sat and wondered what Hell might look like, check out John Hillcoat’s The Proposition, in which Hell happens to look an awful lot like the Australian outback. You may not anticipate that shifting locales from one arid and unforgiving ecosystem to another would lend that much impact to a film’s visual texture, but The Proposition feels like a distinctly Aussie production even before you hear the accents. Nationality isn’t what makes the picture feel so utterly accursed, though; it’s the sheer unrelenting brutality. There’s a thematic nugget at The Proposition’s core that links it to John Ford’s The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, a movie about lawful men trying against all good sense to tame wild lands and civilize lawless men. But Ford’s film never even tries to ascend the peaks of barbarity that The Proposition comes to rest upon through its final moments, where blood is answered with more blood and violent action can only be stopped by a violent response. —Andy Crump

10. Cube

Year: 1998
Director: Vincenzo Natali
Stars: Maurice Dean Wint, Nicole de Boer, Nicky Guadagni, David Hewlett, Wayne Robson, Andrew Miller
Genre: Horror, Sci-Fi
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 63%
Rating: R
Runtime: 90 minutes

Cube is a quintessential cult horror film, with all that the descriptor implies: The film has a great premise, a fun (yet imperfect) execution, a scrappy underdog factor, and an unexpected franchise that follows in its wake. The strange geometry of the multi-room jail holding the film’s characters are filled with dangerous traps. Is it truly a cube? Or is that just what whoever’s captured them wants them to think? As the characters give in to paranoia and claustrophobia, one of the more creative and bare-bones indie horror movies to implement (and actually pull off) sci-fi elements finds its rhythm. Tense and scary, with the same kind of intentionally small scope as movies like Saw, Cube is one of those perfect video store movies that you rent based on the cover alone and come away satisfied. —Jacob Oller

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