What To WatchThe 11 Best Modern Movies That Capture the '80s & '90s Vibe...

The 11 Best Modern Movies That Capture the ’80s & ’90s Vibe in 2023

The 11 Best Modern Movies That Capture the '80s & '90s Vibe in 2023

Cinema is a constantly evolving art form, with each decade bringing its own distinctive vibe. Remember those captivating “high-concept” films from the 1980s? And how about the mind-blowing adventures made possible by CGI in the 1990s? It’s no wonder that many people feel a wave of nostalgia for movies from those eras, as they were crafted in such unique ways.

But guess what? Every now and then, we’re blessed with movies that capture that same nostalgic magic. And here’s the twist: some of these throwback films were actually made in the 2010s and 2020s! Yes, you read that right. Despite being recent, these films possess elements that transport us back to the beloved movies of the ’80s and ’90s. It’s like a blast from the past with a cool, modern-day twist.

If you’re craving something new that still gives you that retro feel, these movies are exactly what you’ve been searching for. They effortlessly blend the awesome vibes you loved from the past with a fresh, contemporary twist. Get ready to be whisked away on a cinematic journey that will make you feel like you’re reliving the best of both worlds.

1. The Accountant

The Accountant
The Accountant stars Ben Affleck as Christian Wolff, an autistic accountant who works for some of the most dangerous criminal organizations in the world. A high-ranking Treasury official, played by J.K. Simmons, is on his trail. To maintain a façade of legitimacy, Christian takes a job at a high-tech robotics firm, where he investigates any financial irregularities. However, what he discovers triggers chaos and panic. Luckily, Christian is not only skilled in accounting but also proficient in weapons and combat.

Back in the ’90s, there were several action movies that featured ordinary individuals with unexpected deadly abilities. Films like Point of No Return, where Bridget Fonda transformed from a drug addict to an assassin, Desperado, where Antonio Banderas concealed firearms in his guitar case, and Sudden Death, where Jean-Claude Van Damme, a firefighter, battled terrorists, provided an enjoyable experience of witnessing characters from everyday life unleash their hidden danger. The Accountant fits perfectly into this concept as its protagonist transitions from a mundane existence to a perilous situation.

2. Greenland

In Greenland, there’s a comet hurtling towards Earth, posing a grave threat to our planet’s survival. This imminent disaster catches the attention of John Garrity, a structural engineer, who receives the news that he, his estranged wife Allison, and their diabetic son Nathan have been chosen to board a plane and seek refuge in an underground bunker. However, a twist of fate separates them at the airport, leaving John desperate to reunite with his family as fiery fragments of the comet rain down from above.

Back in the day, disaster movies featuring comets or asteroids colliding with Earth were quite common. Films like Deep Impact and Armageddon made a name for themselves in the ’90s by exploiting this idea, while Night of the Comet took a quirky approach to the concept in the ’80s. Greenland carries on the tradition of these movies, building suspense by depicting the vulnerability of humanity as we face the catastrophic onslaught of celestial objects.

3. Beast

Idris Elba takes on the role of widower Dr. Nate Samuels in Beast, a thrilling film that follows his attempt to reconnect with his daughters, Norah and Meredith, by taking them on a trip to Africa. However, their adventure takes a dangerous turn when they find themselves being chased by a furious lion deep in the Savannah. Their car gets severely damaged in their desperate attempt to escape, leaving them stranded. With limited resources and the relentless pursuit of the lion, Nate must find a way to save his girls.

One of the most satisfying aspects of Beast is its focused storytelling. The film wastes no time with unnecessary exposition, running at a tight 93 minutes. It swiftly immerses the characters into the heart of the action and concludes as soon as their ordeal is over. This kind of economical narrative used to be more common, but the current trend of setting up sequels and building cinematic universes has overshadowed it. Watching Beast, viewers may be reminded of films like Tremors and Dead Calm, which also mastered this fast-paced storytelling style.

4. The Nice Guys

The Nice Guys
The Nice Guys stars Ryan Gosling as Holland March, a low-rent detective, and Russell Crowe as Jackson Healy, a professional thug. Together, they team up to track down Amelia Kuttner, a supposedly deceased adult film actress who may actually be alive and hiding from dangerous individuals. Alongside them is March’s 13-year-old daughter Holly, played by Angourie Rice, who surprisingly proves to be more adept at uncovering clues than her older counterparts.

In the ’80s, buddy action-comedies were all the rage, with films like 48 HRS., Beverly Hills Cop, Running Scared, Turner and Hooch, and the iconic Lethal Weapon franchise leading the pack. The Nice Guys pays homage to that era, capturing its distinctive vibe by blending an intriguing mystery with moments of physical comedy and witty banter between the lead characters. Directed and co-written by Shane Black, the mastermind behind the Lethal Weapon series and another buddy action film, The Last Boy Scout, this movie marks a triumphant return to his roots in genre-blending magic.

5. Crawl

In the wake of the massive success of Jaws, a whole bunch of movies decided to ride that wave. We still get shark attack movies almost every year, at least one or two. But there was another group of movies that went in a different direction, looking for thrills in the water with other creatures. Alligator, released in 1980, had this big ol’ reptile coming out of the city sewer. Then, there was Lake Placid in 1999, where a crocodile decided to terrorize a small town. And who could forget Anaconda in 1997, with Jennifer Lopez and Ice Cube trying to survive an attack by a massive snake?

Crawl fits right into that tradition. It tells the story of Haley, a college student played by Kaya Scodelario, and her father Dave, played by Barry Pepper. They end up trapped in the crawlspace of their home during a Category 5 hurricane. And if that wasn’t bad enough, there are hungry alligators that have come in from the flood and are lurking around. Just like those other creature features, Crawl doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s all about providing a series of fun jolts and thrills. The plot and the characters definitely take a backseat to all the alligator-related mayhem.

6. Midway

Midway is an exciting historical drama that takes us back to the Battle of Midway, a significant clash between American and Japanese forces in 1942. It all started after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and then went on to target American Navy ships in the Pacific Ocean. The movie features talented actors such as Patrick Wilson, Luke Evans, and Woody Harrelson.

The film does a pretty good job of staying true to the events of the battle, but it’s not really meant to be a history lesson. Instead, it’s more of an action-packed picture that uses history as a backdrop. Unlike some recent war movies that try to make a political statement, Midway chooses to focus on the thrilling and heroic actions of the soldiers. It evokes the patriotic spirit of classic films like Bat*21, Rambo: First Blood Part II, and Memphis Belle, which celebrated American military strength.

In a nutshell, Midway is a gripping tribute to the brave soldiers who fought valiantly during the Battle of Midway. It captures the excitement of the battle while reminding us of the strength and heroism of the American military.

7. Ambulance

Will Sharp, played by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, is a struggling veteran who finds himself in a dire situation. His wife urgently needs surgery for her cancer, and he is desperate for the funds to pay for it. Reluctantly, he agrees to join a bank robbery orchestrated by his adoptive brother Danny, portrayed by Jake Gyllenhaal. However, things quickly spiral out of control, forcing the duo to flee in an ambulance, closely pursued by the police. In the back of the vehicle, they have an EMT, played by Eiza Gonzalez, and an injured patient. This sets the stage for Ambulance, a movie that can be described as a non-stop 136-minute chase scene.

Ambulance marks a return to the signature style of director Michael Bay. Known for his earlier action-packed films like Bad Boys and The Rock, Bay later delved into larger-scale productions such as Armageddon and the CGI-filled Transformers series. However, with Ambulance, he brings back the relentless energy and fast-paced storytelling that characterized his early career. There are no fantasy elements to be found here; this is a pure, old-school action film that bears the frenetic and dynamic touch that is uniquely Michael Bay’s.

8. Moonfall

Disaster movies were a huge sensation back in the 1990s, for reasons unknown. We had aliens wreaking havoc in Independence Day, a comet crashing into Earth in Deep Impact, and not one, but two films about volcanic destruction – Dante’s Peak and Volcano. Other action-packed films like Twister, Hard Rain, and Daylight joined the disaster frenzy. It got so hot that even A-list celebrities and Oscar winners wanted a piece of the action.

Enter Moonfall, a nostalgic nod to ’90s disaster cinema. Our very own Oscar winner, Halle Berry, teams up with Patrick Wilson as astronauts called to action when the moon gets knocked off its orbit, putting our beloved planet in jeopardy. To save the day, they must venture into space and set things right. Director Roland Emmerich, who just so happened to be behind Independence Day and the 1998 Godzilla remake, brings back all the wild and over-the-top chaos we loved from those ’90s movies. Expect nothing less than big, mindless thrills from this one.

9. The Meg

The Meg
In The Meg, we meet Jonas Taylor (played by Jason Statham), a skilled deep-sea rescue diver. He is called upon to rescue the crew members of an underwater research facility who are in trouble after their submersible is damaged in previously unexplored ocean depths. Little did they know, they were attacked by a massive prehistoric shark called a Megalodon. This 75-foot beast follows them back to the surface, wreaking havoc and devouring innocent victims. Now, Jonas not only has to save the trapped researchers but also stop this terrifying creature.

Creature features have become quite serious in recent years, with filmmakers feeling the need to deliver intense thrills. However, The Meg takes a different approach by maintaining a lighthearted tone and a sense of humor. It acknowledges its own absurdity and has a blast with the idea of a gigantic shark munching on people in the most outlandish ways. It’s reminiscent of those self-aware monster movies from the ’80s, like Piranha, Critters, and Gremlins, which blended creature chaos with a touch of comedy.

10. Plane

In the movie “Plane,” Gerard Butler plays the character Brodie Torrance, a pilot who is set to fly from Singapore to Tokyo. During the flight, a massive storm causes severe damage to the aircraft, forcing an emergency landing. Unfortunately, they find themselves on a small island in the Philippines, controlled by militias that kidnap foreigners for ransom. Brodie and another passenger named Louis Gaspare manage to escape, and now they must find a way to get help and save the other passengers.

“Plane” is a high-concept action film that brings back memories of the movies Bruce Willis or Arnold Schwarzenegger would have starred in back in the day. The film doesn’t aim for deep meaning or complex themes. It’s a straightforward thrill ride where an ordinary man teams up with an unlikely partner to take down a group of dangerous individuals. Directed by Jean-François Richet, this movie is a traditional yet satisfying action flick filled with intense shootouts and brawls, without relying on high-tech CGI effects.

11. Moonfall


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