2 Movies Like Ambush (2023)

Staff & contributors

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

, 2023

If nothing else, Chris Moukarbel's Tribeca Film Festival-winning narrative feature really forces us to think about the form of the documentary and the layers of interpretation through which we're shown an ostensibly factual account. Cypher begins as a music doc, before taking on true-crime qualities, then turning into a full-blown found footage thriller—the movie itself practically being brainwashed into its own conspiracy. Unfortunately, this is all much less interesting in execution, as the film goes long stretches without keeping up the momentum of its eerier moments. Its eventual twists are particularly uninspired, coming up with a vision of the music industry that doesn't say anything all that meaningful.

Genre: Documentary, Drama, Music, Mystery

Actor: Brian Jordan Alvarez, Chris Anthony, Chris Moukarbel, Jamila Curry, Johnny Montina, Kenete Simms, Nick Canonica, Tierra Whack, Vanya Asher

Director: Chris Moukarbel

Rating: R