4 Movies Like Retribution (2023) On Amazon Prime

Staff & contributors

As biopics go, Cassandro skews towards the conventional. It follows a template familiar to anyone who has seen a life-story movie about the underdog climbing up the ranks thanks to their unmatchable heart and talent. But it’s also a template that’s elevated by Bernal’s wonderful performance and Roger Ross Williams’ careful and naturalistic direction. Save for a few melodramatic moments, many parts of Cassandro feel fresh and authentic, not least of which is Saúl's heartwarming relationship with his mother Yocasta (Perla De La Rosa). It’s unapologetic joy is another element that sets it apart: instead of being punished for his flamboyance and cheer, Saúl is rewarded for it. This seems like a rare triumph in LGBTQ+ stories, and on that merit alone Cassandro deserves to be seen. 

Genre: Drama

Actor: Bad Bunny, El Hijo del Santo, Gael García Bernal, Joaquín Cosío, Julieta Ortiz, Leonardo Alonso, Mark Vasconcellos, Perla de la Rosa, Raúl Castillo, Roberta Colindrez

Director: Roger Ross Williams

Rating: R

A Million Miles Away sticks so closely to the Hollywood biopic template that it threatens to be less about José Hernández as a person with his own complexities and more about the idea of him as a one-size-fits-all inspirational figure. This isn't to say the film isn't effective when it really counts; Hernández is worth admiring not necessarily because of his ultimate success, but because how much he failed and got back up again. Director Alejandra Márquez Abella keeps the film's tone light and bouncy, flattening some of its more serious moments, but also helping make Hernández's long, hard road to space more of a process of discovery. It's easy, inspiring viewing that quietly tiptoes past harder questions about poverty and NASA's potentially discriminatory practices.

Genre: Drama, History

Actor: Ashley Ciarra, Blake Webb, Bobby Soto, Dylan Hall, Emma Fassler, Eric Johnson, Francisco Barreiro, Garret Dillahunt, Gerardo Trejoluna, Isaac Arellanes, Isabel Aerenlund, Jordan Dean, Jorge Briseño, Julio Cedillo, Julio Cesar Cedillo, Marilyn Uribe, Mercedes Hernández, Michael Adler, Michael Peña, Michelle Krusiec, Peter Theis, Rosa Salazar, Sam Harrison, Sarayu Blue, Veronica Falcón, Xochiquetzal Martínez

Director: Alejandra Márquez Abella

Rating: PG

Surrounded has the bones of a revenge-style Western. It turns the table on the white cowboy hero and gives us (on paper, at least) complex leads in Mo and Tommy. Mo is a young Black woman whose experience as a Buffalo Solider lends her not only the skills of an expert gunslinger but also the anger and motivation to push through any obstacle, while Tommy is the enigmatic thief who Mo reluctantly relies on in her quest for freedom. With all this pent-up tension, the film should work, and it does occasionally thanks to Wright and Bell’s deft performances (Bell is especially exceptional), the stunning mountainous terrains, and the worthy attempts at race and class commentary. But for the most part, the film's ambitions fall flat. The monologues are overlong and too evocative of modern speech to be historically believable. The action scenes, while exciting, only sputter here and there and never gain the momentum the film needs to genuinely thrill. And the thin backstories of Mo and Tommy raise more questions than answers. More often than not, Surrounded looks like a couple of good scenes strewn together on a lousy string; the foundations are off but there’s some enjoyment to be found.

Genre: Action, Drama, Western

Actor: Austin Rising, Brett Gelman, David Manzanares, Jamie Bell, Jeffrey Donovan, Keith Jardine, Kevin Wiggins, Letitia Wright, Luce Rains, Lyle Sandoval, Mark Dalton, Michael Kenneth Williams, Nathaniel Augustson, Peter Diseth, Tatanka Means

Director: Anthony Mandler

Rating: R

At least you can't accuse this holiday film of being generic. Combining the incredibly incompatible elements of drug busts and figure skating (and still failing to justify this crazy idea, though not for a lack of trying), Dealing with Christmas eventually begins to feel more like a series of comedy sketches making up the rules as it goes along. This definitely leads to moments of both excitement and effective humor, but its lack of consistency ultimately makes the awkward outweigh the good. Still, the audacity on display is something to be admired, and the film is just well-made enough to keep its constant experiments worth the curiosity.

Genre: Action, Adventure, Comedy, Fantasy

Actor: Alex Lutz, Alice Moitié, Bruno Sanches, Catherine Hosmalin, Élise Hobbé, Eric Judor, Etienne Guillou-Kervern, François Vincentelli, Guy Lecluyse, Jean-Yves Tual, Jonas Dinal, Kim Higelin, Laura Felpin, Lison Daniel, Monsieur Poulpe, Nicky Marbot, Paul Deby, Philippe Lacheau, Ragnar Le Breton, Tom Dingler

Director: Arthur Sanigou