63 Movies Like The Flash (2023) (Page 4)

Staff & contributors

Between the film’s non-existent marketing and Hollywood's ongoing writers' strike, I knew not to expect much from Heart of Stone, Netflix’s latest direct-to-streaming outing. And sure enough, the spy thriller proved to be a mediocre watch. The plot is facile and generic, another one of those attempts at justifying AI and government data breaches. The acting is subpar, which is expected from the ever-stoic Gal Gadot. About the only good thing you can say about it is that it has entertaining action sequences. Gadot is precise and terrifying, a stunt wonder made for the genre. Now if only the acting matched the action, then maybe the film wouldn’t feel as plain and wooden. 

Genre: Action, Drama, Thriller

Actor: Alia Bhatt, Archie Madekwe, BD Wong, Enzo Cilenti, Gal Gadot, Giulia Innocenti, Glenn Close, Jamie Dornan, Jing Lusi, Joe Reisig, Jon Kortajarena, Jónas Alfreð Birkisson, Luca Fiamenghi, Mark Ivanir, Matthias Schweighöfer, Neran Persaud, Paul Ready, Roy Sampson, Sophie Okonedo, Thomas Arnold

Director: Tom Harper

Rating: PG-13

Built on promising ideas revolving around toxic relationships, exploitation of Black bodies, and a fading African heritage, Jagged Mind comes up with reasonably diverting genre thrills but stops short of taking advantage of the rich material it has at its fingertips. In getting caught up with its own premise, the film isn't able to craft a compelling enough journey for its protagonist to break free of the cycles she finds herself in. As a result, it becomes something that's fun to watch in the moment—thanks to some playful, misleading editing and a solid lead performance by Maisie Richardson-Sellers—but not something that leaves a lasting impression or makes a full, compelling statement.

Genre: Horror, Mystery, Thriller

Actor: Casey Ford Alexander, Jimmy Jean-Louis, Kate Szekely, Maisie Richardson-Sellers, Rosaline Elbay, Shannon Woodward, Shein Mompremier

Director: Kelley Kali

Rating: R

Unknown's next documentary installment takes us to the stars following the construction and deployment of the James Webb Space Telescope. The documentary centers on the behind-the-scenes of launching the telescope, which eradicated all possible errors as it was the most expensive operation to enter space without human intervention. Explanations are palatable, and the highlights of their successes and failures are enough for casual viewers. Packed with emotion from NASA's scientists and engineers (and global spectators during Covid), the investment in this project and journey carry the film even though the concepts are too large to condense. 

Genre: Documentary

Actor: Joe Biden

Director: Shai Gal

Rating: G

For the entirety of Where Was I, Trevor Noah is comfortably in his pocket—speaking to an audience that's clearly familiar with his style and his views (if the respectful silences and occasional cheering are any indication) and branching off into sharing more serious facts between the jokes. And Noah's style is clearly refined, as he speaks clearly and sticks to a coherent structure at all times. But at a certain point his level of comfort here also leads to punchlines that are too easy or unsurprising, with too much focus placed on the kinds of voices and accents he can put on rather than the content of what he's saying. Noah remains a strong entertainer, but when you know how scathing he can get, this feels more like a warmup round.

Genre: Comedy, Documentary

Actor: Trevor Noah

Director: David Paul Meyer

Rating: PG-13

With its release coming so close to that of Christopher Nolan’s blockbuster treatment of the same subject, To End All War has clearly been designed as a companion piece for that fictional film. Though it mostly performs its function in a by-the-numbers fashion, this rather unexceptional adaptation of Oppenheimer’s Wikipedia page is somewhat livened up by fascinating archival footage and a few compelling talking heads. Among these is Nolan himself, whose contributions provide interesting insight into the structure of his own Oppenheimer movie. 

As its title suggests, To End All War hinges on Oppenheimer’s rationalization for developing the atomic bomb — namely, that, by creating such a catastrophically destructive weapon, he was, in effect, helping to deter future aggression. The film provides a counterpoint by suggesting that the scientists may have been somewhat swept up in egotistical fervor, though this is only gently touched on so as not to require the film to grapple too seriously with the ethics of its subject. This combination of ultimately non-threatening treatment with some genuinely compelling nuggets of perspective makes To End All War a quick, largely un-challenging way to brush up on history before or after tackling fictional exploration of its subject.

Genre: Documentary, History

Actor: Adolf Hitler, Alan B. Carr, Albert Einstein, Bill Nye, Charles Oppenheimer, Christopher Nolan, David Eisenbach, Edward Teller, Eleanor Roosevelt, Ellen Bradbury Reid, Hideko Tamura, J. Robert Oppenheimer, Jon Else, Judy Woodruff, Kai Bird, Leslie Groves, Martin J. Sherwin, Michio Kaku, Richard Rhodes, Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping

Director: Christopher Cassel

Sweetwater has a precious story in its hands, along with a sparkling cast of tried-and-true actors and a generous budget that allows them to go all in with the movie’s 1950s setting. But the parts are far greater than the sum here, because all together, Sweetwater is a mess. It promises to be a biopic about Clifton but fractures into many other things. During its duller parts, it’s a white savior story about basketball owners, and during its more vibrant parts, it’s a snapshot of the Harlem Globetrotters during their humble beginnings. The basketball matches themselves are playful and exciting to watch, but for every game, there is an overdramatic scene that cranks up the notch on sappy music and predictable dialogues. Often, it also feels like director Martin Guigui went to the Green Book School of Anti-prejudice, given his extremely elementary portrayal of racism and his preference for the white characters over the Black characters. Sweetwater isn’t watchable, but it’s a shame that the star of the film had to share the spotlight with less interesting personalities. 

Genre: Drama, History

Actor: Ashani Roberts, Billy Malone, Ca'Ron Jaden Coleman, Cary Elwes, Dahlia Waingort, Delijah McAlpin, Eric Etebari, Eric Roberts, Ernest Harden Jr., Everett Osborne, Gary Clark Jr., Jason Sklar, Jeremy Piven, Jim Caviezel, Jim Meskimen, Kevin Pollak, Mike Starr, Paul Hipp, Preston Galli, Richard Dreyfuss, Robert Ri'chard, Wayne Federman

Director: Martin Guigui

There’s little to like in Hidden Strike, a shoddy action thriller riddled with dodgy CGI, melodramatic performances, and ultra-predictable plotlines. You could even play a drinking game spotting all the action cliches present in the film (take a shot every time the patriotic hero dedicates a killing to his countrymen). Mostly, it’s laughable and complex for all the wrong reasons, but there are rare moments when Chan and Cena’s partnership works. They’re pockets of humor that feel like actual breathers, a respite in a film that’s ultimately tiresome to watch. 

Genre: Action, Action & Adventure, Adventure, Comedy, Thriller

Actor: Amadeus Serafini, Diego Dati, Gong Jun, Hani Adel, Jackie Chan, Jiang Wenli, John Cena, Kefas Brand, Laila Ezz El Arab, Lee Huang, Li Ma, Ma Chunrui, Max Huang, Michael Koltes, Neo Hou, Pilou Asbæk, Rachael Holoway, Rima Zeidan, Tazito Garcia, Temur Mamisashvili, Tim Man, Xu Jia

Director: Scott Waugh

Rating: TV-14

To be fair to this visibly low-budget adaptation of H. G. Wells' seminal science-fiction novel, it doesn't always settle for the cheap way out. Though it still leaves much to be desired in its visual effects, awkward action scenes, and generally unimaginative direction, Fear the Invisible Man makes a valiant effort to deepen its story by placing a strong, unlikely protagonist at its center (played in all seriousness and with admirable resolve by Mhairi Calvey). Since the titular villain isn't actually the star of the show—nor is he made out to be an ever-present threat, like in the modern 2020 adaptation—this version of The Invisible Man is able to circle relatively newer ideas about a woman's "invisible" place in the world, and how she's tempted to go down a path of pride and violence. If only the rest of the film could keep up with the script's ambition.

Genre: Horror, Science Fiction, Thriller

Actor: David Hayman, Delroy Brown, Emily Haigh, Grahame Fox, Joe Tucker, Marc Danbury, Mark Arnold, Mhairi Calvey, Mike Beckingham, Simon Pengelly, Wayne Gordon

Director: Paul Dudbridge

Despite an engaging opening that promises to deepen the world already established in 2018's Bird Box, this new installment slips back into the usual routine before long. That is: cheap thrills and an overall lack of scares, not necessarily because of the fact that the creatures terrorizing this world are invisible, but because the film doesn't take advantage of the fear and paranoia that builds among the human characters. A stronger focus on religious belief (or simply blind fanaticism) should lead to more interesting character dynamics, but there isn't a single person here who's defined by anything beyond a few base traits. So despite the efforts of a game cast (including Babylon's Diego Calva and especially Barbarian's Georgina Campbell), the film just can't overcome how boring it is to watch blindfolded people reacting to nothing.

Genre: Drama, Horror, Science Fiction, Thriller

Actor: Alejandra Howard, Celia Freijeiro, Diego Calva, Georgina Campbell, Gonzalo de Castro, Leonardo Sbaraglia, Lola Dueñas, Manel Llunell, Mario Casas, Michelle Jenner, Milo Taboada, Naila Schuberth, Patrick Criado

Director: Àlex Pastor, David Pastor

Rating: R

This B-movie sci-fi-action-thriller from co-writer-director Robert Rodriguez starts out like a hammy pastiche of (the already overdone) Taken, but its interminable succession of galaxy-brain twists reveals other obvious influences — among them Inception, Memento, and Shutter Island. Fine ingredients, but the recipe is all wrong, as a gravelly-voiced, seemingly barely awake Ben Affleck sleepwalks his way through the cringy dialogue. Alongside William Fichtner in shady supervillain mode, Affleck is joined in that endeavor by Alice Braga as the psychic who is (seemingly) helping his Detective Rourke track down his (again, seemingly!) kidnapped daughter, though what Braga mostly does is hold the audience’s hand and explain the plot’s increasingly convoluted sci-fi elements to us. At one point, she tells Rourke that “pain keeps the mind awake” — and, while the excruciating script doesn’t seem to have that effect on Affleck (judging from his lethargic performance), it’s hard not to find yourself a little enlivened by Hypnotic’s sheer absurdity.

Genre: Action, Drama, Mystery, Science Fiction, Thriller

Actor: Alice Braga, Ben Affleck, Bobby Hernandez, Bonnie Discepolo, Carrick O'Quinn, Corina Calderon, Dayo Okeniyi, Derek Russo, Gabriel 'G-Rod' Rodriguez, Hala Finley, J. D. Pardo, Jackie Earle Haley, Jeff Fahey, Kelly Frye, Kelly Phelan, Lawrence Varnado, Nikki Dixon, Ryan Ryusaki, Sonia Izzolena, William Fichtner, Zane Holtz

Director: Robert Rodriguez

You ought to know what you’re getting into with a movie like The Out-Laws, a production from the Adam Sandler-founded Happy Madison banner that’s behind such lofty cinematic heights as Grown Ups and Paul Blart: Mall Cop. Even in that charitable frame of reference, though, The Out-Laws feels, even more than usual, like a tax write-off for its creators and a sweet solely-for-the-paycheck gig for its starry cast, who don’t have to do much by way of actual dramatic work here. The perfunctory editing and bland direction often seem disinterested in (or, perhaps, embarrassed by) most of the script’s attempts to be funny, and so the film rushes through its scenario, which is only mildly amusing to begin with. In a movie like this, that’s more of a blessing than a curse, even if it does mean some of its better moments get short shrift from the whistlestop treatment. All in all, even as Happy Madison vehicles go, this is an utterly forgettable 95 minutes — the kind you’ll barely even be able to recall by the time the credits roll.

Genre: Action, Comedy, Romance

Actor: Adam Devine, Anthony Belevtsov, Betsy Sodaro, Blake Anderson, Cale Schultz, Dean Winters, Derek Russo, Ellen Barkin, Haley Leary, Jackie Sandler, Jackson Beals, Julie Hagerty, Laci Mosley, Lauren Lapkus, Lil Rel Howery, Lynne Ashe, Michael Rooker, Mo Gallini, Montrel Miller, Nina Dobrev, Orelon Sidney, Otis Winston, Paul Eliopoulos, Peggy Walton-Walker, Pierce Brosnan, Poorna Jagannathan, Rebecca Covert, Reyn Doi, Richard Kind, Sunny Sandler, Tywayne Wheatt, Zele Avradopoulos

Director: Tyler Spindel

Rating: R

Based on the autobiography of real-life evangelical pastor Greg Laurie, Jesus Revolution recounts how a Christian movement in the '60s turned lost hippies into dedicated Christians. It was an interesting moment in time, but instead of delving into the movement's peculiarities and intricacies, Jesus Revolution offers a myopic tale that paints Laurie as a hero and the movement as inspirational when, really, they are anything but. Laurie's story never feels significant enough to justify a feature film and the movement never seems as radical as the film thinks it to be. And even though it’s autobiographical, it never really digs into Laurie's spirituality and interiority deep enough to reveal complex truths. In fact, everyone’s a caricature in this simplistic film that feels more like propaganda as it paints religion as perfect and all-saving while glossing over its many imperfections and questionable rhetoric. It could have worked as commentary, satire, or maybe even a sincere memoir, but as it is, it just feels like a short-sighted attempt at telling history.

Genre: Drama, History

Actor: Alexia Ioannides, Anna Grace Barlow, Billy Graham, Charlie Morgan Patton, DeVon Franklin, Jackson Robert Scott, Joel Courtney, Jolie Jenkins, Jonathan Roumie, Julia Campbell, Kelsey Grammer, Kevin Downes, Kimberly Williams-Paisley, Matthew Montemaro, Mina Sundwall, Nic Bishop, Nicholas Cirillo, Paras Patel, Randall Newsome, Shaun Weiss, Steve Hanks

Director: Brent McCorkle, Jon Erwin

Rating: PG-13

A movie based on a theme park ride is always going to be a marketing exercise, but what’s remarkable about Haunted Mansion is how uninterested it is in even pretending to be anything more. Amazon, Yankee Candle, CVS, Baskin Robbins, Burger King: you could fill a mall with the list of brands shamelessly name-dropped in the movie. Gallingly, the cast are even forced to do double duty as brand ambassadors during some of the movie’s most determined efforts at poignancy — oof.

Not even an ensemble featuring the comedic-dramatic chops of LaKeith Stanfield, Rosario Dawson, Tiffany Haddish, Danny DeVito, Owen Wilson, and Chase Dillon (the best of the bunch) can make such naked cash-grabs feel organic. What’s more, though, Haunted Mansion depressingly asks so little of its cast that there aren’t really any opportunities for them to counterbalance these embarrassing moments with anything approaching compelling. Adding to its struggles are the mansion’s sludgy color palette (which renders every scene unremarkable, no matter how moving or spooky it’s supposed to be) and the fact that it somehow feels rushed even at an overlong two hours. Though you can appreciate director Justin Simien’s efforts at elevating the material into something coherent, Haunted Mansion feels as lifeless as the ghosts that fill it.

Genre: Comedy, Family, Fantasy, Horror

Actor: Alisa Harris, Amy Parrish, Andrew Morgado, Anthony Burrell, Arielle Prepetit, Ashley John, Ayane Azevedo, Ben Bladon, Bryan McClure, Chad Crumley, Charity Jordan, Charles Black, Chase W. Dillon, Chenise Johnson, Christopher Winchester, Clarence White III, Creek Wilson, Cruz Abelita, D. Jerome Wells, Dan Levy, Danny DeVito, Derrick James Moss, Don Stallings, Edward Zhu, Elisabeth Lagrande, Erika Coleman, Erion Brandon WIlliams, Fedor Steer, Glendon Ray Hobgood, Gralen Bryant Banks, Hasan Minhaj, Hector Machado, Helene Henry, Ian Covell, J.R. Adduci, Jamie Lee Curtis, Jared Leto, Jared Simon, Jo Koy, John Curran, Joseph Miller, Julie Nalibov, Kailie Sanders, Kamran Shaikh, Kat Montes, Kathi Callahan, Kay Galvin, Keiko Bell, Kurt Yue, Lakeith Stanfield, Lindsay Lamb, Lorenzo Beronilla, Lumar Christopher Leblanc III, Manuel Perkins, Marcus Otis Hubbard, Marilu Henner, Mike Benitez, Nico Gomez, Owen Wilson, Paul Michael Robertson, Rachel Pitner, Raianna Brown, Rick Andosca, Rosario Dawson, Rowan Joseph, Sebastien Soudais, Steve Zissis, Terence Mathews, Terence Rosemore, Tiffany Haddish, Tony Paone, Tracy Goode, William Calvert, Winona Ryder

Director: Justin Simien

Rating: PG-13

There’s no way to escape it– the plotline of One True Loves feels like the other side of Cast Away (2000), but instead of focusing on the survival aspect, it focuses on the wife trying to move on with grief. The original novel portrays Emma moving on through reclaiming her past, and learning to appreciate the roots she’s tried to forget with her lost husband. However, the film adaptation falters in depicting the personal, inner world of Emma, as it bungles through the timelines with Hallmark-esque quotes and disarranged scenes. It tries to save the film through its star-studded cast, but their decent performances can’t save the way the film is structured.

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance

Actor: Beth Broderick, Christina Bach, Cooper van Grootel, Gabriella Garcia, Gary Hudson, Jacinte Blankenship, Jay DeVon Johnson, Jessi Goei, Kelvin Hodge, Lauren Tom, Luke Bracey, Michael OKeefe, Michaela Conlin, Oceana Matsumoto, Oona Yaffe, Phillipa Soo, Simu Liu, Tom Everett Scott, Victoria Blade, Wil Deusner

Director: Andy Fickman

Rating: PG-13

About My Father is clearly intended to be a cringe comedy a la Meet the Parents (it even features Robert De Niro as another grumpy dad), but it stretches the concept of “funny” so thin that the memory of that scene in which a cat pees on the contents of a smashed urn will feel like dizzying comic heights in comparison. The premise — an Italian-American man struggles to win the acceptance of his WASPish in-laws — might have made sense 100 years ago, but today, it strikes as farfetched. Even without that weak foundation, much of About My Father has a shaky grasp on what makes a movie work. The screenplay feels like the product of crudely stitching together several over-manufactured set-pieces, with the result being an almost total lack of fluidity and characters who often contradict themselves.

The film starts out on its worst foot: star–co-writer Sebastian Maniscalco lays the voiceover on thick, while Sebastian’s brash Sicilian father Salvo (De Niro) is so unceasingly negative that it turns a presence that should be great into one that’s only grating. Though it does find something of a footing as a saccharine family drama in its back half, it’s much too little, too late.

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Actor: Adan James Carrillo, Anders Holm, Brett Dier, David Rasche, Kim Cattrall, Leslie Bibb, Robert De Niro, Sebastian Maniscalco

Director: Laura Terruso