4 Movies Like Air Force One Down (2024)

Staff & contributors

Aptly for a film partly set in a fortune cookie factory, Fremont deals with luck — specifically, the other side of good luck: survivor’s guilt. Donya (played by real-life Afghan refugee Anaita Wali Zada) is a former translator for the US Army who fled her home city of Kabul on an emergency evacuation flight when the Taliban took over in 2021. Now living a safe, if drab, existence in the titular Californian town, insomniac Donya struggles to embrace her freedom, tormented by the knowledge that she lost some of her old colleagues to reprisal attacks and that her loved ones are still living under repressive rule in Afghanistan.

As Donya shuttles between her little apartment in Fremont, her job writing cryptic one-liners for a fortune cookie factory in San Francisco, and appointments with her eccentric psychiatrist (Gregg Turkington), Fremont balances a moving study of her melancholy with deadpan humor. Despite its black-and-white cinematography and tight Academy ratio, this is no austere drama, but an endlessly warm and understated portrait of someone rediscovering themselves and all of life’s unexpected moments of connection, like chance romantic encounters and sudden tears at karaoke.

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Actor: Anaita Wali Zada, Boots Riley, Gregg Turkington, Hilda Schmelling, Jeremy Allen White, Siddique Ahmed

Director: Babak Jalali

Rating: NR

Shot for only 20 days with a budget of a million dollars, The Last Stop in Yuma County is a small film, but it achieves significant feats, thanks in large part to first-time feature director Francis Galluppi’s strong vision. The set is stylish, the characters feel lived in, and the central mystery—will these robbers get away with it?—feels so taut and tense that it’s enough to fuel the entire film’s energy. There’s no need to look for backstories, motivations, or subplots; just waiting to see whether the finger will let go of the gun’s trigger, or if anyone will catch the hostage’s silent plea for help, is absorbing enough.

Genre: Crime, Thriller

Actor: Alex Essoe, Barbara Crampton, Connor Paolo, Faizon Love, Gene Jones, Jim Cummings, Jocelin Donahue, Jon Proudstar, Matt McVay, Michael Abbott Jr., Nicholas Logan, Richard Brake, Robert Broski, Robin Bartlett, Ryan Masson, Sam Huntington, Sierra McCormick

Director: Francis Galluppi

Rating: NR

While it starts off slow and rocky, River Wild sails smoothly as soon as it hits the waters. The rafting on the rapids, the wild chases, the suspenseful silences—all are effectively shot and believably terrifying, even if they border on predictability at times. Real-life couple Meester and Brody are vulnerable and intense, adding some depth to an otherwise basic story. Killam is compelling too, especially during the action sequences, but I might have seen him in one-too-many comedy sketches to trust his sincerity here. It’s not the best outdoor thriller by a long shot, especially if you compare it to the superior 1994 original film starring Meryl Streep and Kevin Bacon, but it is entertaining in its own right. 

Genre: Adventure, Drama, Mystery, Thriller

Actor: Adam Brody, Courtney Chen, Eve Connolly, Leighton Meester, Matt Devere, Nicholas Wittman, Olivia Swann, Taran Killam

Director: Ben Ketai

With social media inextricably linked to our lives, the way we navigate relationships is different now. Kho Gaye Hum Kahan is a visually stunning debut that depicts this unique modern anxiety, and its different facets through three childhood friends. Adarsh Gourav, Siddhant Chaturvedi, and Ananya Panday have the easy, breezy dynamic that grounds the film. This, along with the chill soundtrack and stylish approach of writer-director Arjun Varain Singh took in depicting their issues, definitely match the aesthetic appeal we’re used to from the online world. The film’s conclusion doesn’t fully resolve things– after all, there’s no stopping the interconnectedness between real life and the online world– but Kho Gaye Hum Kahan’s struggles feel relatable, even if it’s as surface-level as the world it wishes to criticize.

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Actor: Adarsh Gourav, Ananya Panday, Anya Singh, Divya Jagdale, Farhan Akhtar, Ikhlaque Khan, Kalki Koechlin, Kartik Shah, Kashyap Kapoor, Mahathi Ramesh, Malaika Arora, Narendra Jetley, Rahul Vohra, Rohan Gurbaxani, Sapan Verma, Siddhant Chaturvedi, Sonali Sachdev, Suchitra Pillai, Vijay Maurya

Director: Arjun Varain Singh

Rating: PG-13