Time for another list of films I’ve found on UK Netflix (other lists here), and this time it’s the turn of the ‘Thriller’. I’ve used the term loosely to pull together films that have a bit of an edge; A story that captivates you, action that excites you… a film that thrills you.
They’re also all on one page. I don’t care about multiple page hits as I receive no revenue from the adverts (if there are any) on the page. I’m not going to make you click through to view every single one. Click on the titles to watch the trailers, although some give away the entire story, you can proceed at your own risk.
If there’s any I’ve missed off, let me know in the comments or on Twitter @movieblort and I’ll check them out myself!
Plot: A group of assassins come together for a suicide mission to kill an evil lord.
Director: Takashi Miike
Scores: 7.6 (IMDB), 96% (RT), 87% (Metacritic)
Recommended to me on one of the IMDB forums, because while I like the Asian period dramas, I dislike the constant flying about and dancing in the trees. 13 Assassins is much more realistic, albeit with the trademark flare for violence from Takashi Miike.
Watch if you liked: Ichi The Killer, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Hero
Plot: The crew of a Danish cargo ship is hijacked by Somali pirates who proceed to engage in escalating negotiations with authorities in Copenhagen.
Director: Tobias Lindholm
Scores: 7.2 (IMDB), 97% (RT), 82% (Metacritic)
A drawn out, emotionally draining and bleak thriller. No sensationalism here, just a meticulous eye for detail that explores the hostage situation from both back at the board room and on the ship. Don’t be put off by the subtitles, about three-quarters of the film is in English, and it’s entirely worth your time.
Watch if you liked: Captain Phillips, Stolen Seas
Plot: In the future, the Japanese government captures a class of ninth-grade students and forces them to kill each other under the revolutionary “Battle Royale” act.
Director: Kinji Fukasaku
Scores: 7.7 (IMDB), 86% (RT), 81% (Metacritic)
While the concept may sound a bit stale what with all the “Sole Survivor” styled films out there in recent years, but Battle Royale was arguably the first one to hit our screens with such originality and ferocity. Based on the novel of the same name, this controversial and bloody thriller is not easy to stomach. Those looking for an intense viewing experience need look no further.
Watch if you liked: Oldboy, The Hunger Games, The Condemned, Audition
Plot: A soldier introduces himself to the Peterson family, claiming to be a friend of their son who died in action. After the young man is welcomed into their home, a series of accidental deaths seem to be connected to his presence.
Director: Adam Wingard
Scores: 6.7 (IMDB), 90% (RT), 76% (Metacritic)
Darkly funny, yet savagely violent, The Guest is the most fun you will have watching a movie. A hunky Dan Stevens just seems to effortlessly wander about smirking at people while you just sit and wait for the next crazy thing to happen. It is utterly ridiculous, and I cannot recommend this film enough.
Watch if you liked: The Terminator, John Wick, Red State, Drive
Plot: A mysterious outsider’s quiet life is turned upside down when he returns to his childhood home to carry out an act of vengeance. Proving himself an amateur assassin, he winds up in a brutal fight to protect his estranged family.
Director: Jeremy Saulnier
Scores: 7.1 (IMDB), 96% (RT), 77% (Metacritic)
It is an honest but brutal portrayal of deep-seated emotional revenge. Dark and subdued, it manages to maintain a slow build of tension and violence spliced with the occasional pieces of humour. Not one for the impatient among you though, far from your typical revenge thriller.
Watch if you liked: Dead Mans Shoes, Oldboy.
Plot: After being kidnapped and imprisoned for 15 years, Oh Dae-Su is released, only to find that he must find his captor in 5 days.
Director: Park Chan-wook
Scores: 8.4 (IMDB), 80% (RT), 74% (Metacritic)
The jaw-dropping nature of the final scene in Oldboy goes down in cinematic history as one of the greatest twists ever produced on screen. Often referred to as the best Korean film of all time, Min Sik-Choi delivers an unbelievable performance as the lead in this violent and devastating movie. It looks and sounds beautiful, despite the often disturbing events taking place; A brilliantly surreal experience.
Watch if you liked: Kill Bill, The Chaser, A Bittersweet Life, Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, Blue Ruin,
Plot: After a simple jewellery heist goes terribly wrong, the surviving criminals begin to suspect that one of them is a police informant.
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Scores: 8.4 (IMDB), 92% (RT), 78% (Metacritic)
It’s one of those films that if you haven’t seen it, you almost feel weird admitting that you haven’t seen it. You immediately get that bitter response of “wot dunt u wotch films or anyfink” and a death stare, because it’s seen as such a classic by so many. While not your typical thriller, this brave debut feature from the prolific directorial mind of Quentin Tarentino has a bit of everything. Violent, stylish, and a great story, you’d be hard pressed to not get a thrill out of this one.
Watch if you liked: Kill Bill, Pulp Fiction, Usual Suspects, Heat
The Raid 2
Plot: Only a short time after the first raid, Rama goes undercover with the thugs of Jakarta and plans to bring down the syndicate and uncover the corruption within his police force
Director: Gareth Evans
Scores: 8/10 (IMDB), 79% (RT), 71% (Metacritic)
Easily one of the most exciting movies I have ever watched. It had all the violence and jaw dropping choreography of the first movie and then some, combined with the storyline reminiscent of a Japanese Yakuza film much like the work of Takeshi Kitano. It is rare you get such an improvement from a sequel, and what the first one lacked in terms of dialogue and substance, this one over-delivered
Watch if you liked: The Raid, Game of Death, Ong Bak, Ip Man
A Secret In Their Eyes
Plot: A retired legal counselor writes a novel hoping to find closure for one of his past unresolved homicide cases and for his unreciprocated love with his superior – both of which still haunt him decades later.
Director: Juan José Campanella
Scores: 8.2 (IMDB), 91% (RT), 80% (Metacritic)
An impressive Argentinian murder mystery, with an array of incredible performances, in particular Ricardo Darín’s central performance. There’s many reasons why this won an Oscar, it is simply in a league of its own in respect to simply how intelligent and complex it is, but it feels accessible and unpretentious.
Watch if you liked: Wild Tales, Amores Perros, The Lives of Others
The Next Three Days
Plot: A married couple’s life is turned upside down when the wife is accused of a murder.
Director: Paul Haggis
Scores: 7.4 (IMDB), 52% (RT), 52% (Metacritic)
Don’t let the above average scores fool you; this excellent remake of the French thriller ‘Anything for Her’ is a film that keeps you on the edge of your seat. Twists and turns, a stand-out performance from Russell Crowe and a hell of a lot of fun. Fans of the original should check it out, unlike other remakes it has enough about it to differentiate itself, and while you could consider it to be unrealistic – that is what makes it so entertaining.
Watch if you liked: Prison Break, The Escapist, Law Abiding Citizen
Plot: An accomplished headhunter risks everything to obtain a valuable painting owned by a former mercenary.
Director: Morten Tyldum
Scores: 7.6 (IMDB), 92% (RT), 72% (Metacritic)
Those who refuse to watch films with subtitles on them are missing out, but if you are looking to make your first leap into foreign cinema you cannot go wrong with this. Intricate, clever, violent, exhilarating and as with many others in this list, a little implausibility doesn’t hurt either. Helped along by some solid performances, this is jaw-dropping entertainment at its very best.
Watch if you liked: Any thriller film, ever.
Gone Baby Gone
Plot: Two Boston area detectives investigate a little girl’s kidnapping, which ultimately turns into a crisis both professionally and personally.
Director: Ben Affleck
Scores: 7.7 (IMDB), 94% (RT), 72% (Metacritic)
As with most of these, they tackle a pretty bleak subject matter and aren’t afraid to dwell on it. The directorial debut by Ben Affleck, starring younger brother Casey Affleck, goes supremely dark, exploring the worst kinds of humans. This is a story that occurs on an all to regular basis, and it’s this correlation between film and reality that really will really unnerve you.
Watch if you liked: The Town, Man on Fire, Tell No One, An American Crime
Plot: After entering a beauty contest in Tijuana, a young woman witnesses drug-related murders and is forced to do the gang’s bidding.
Director: Gerardo Naranjo
Scores: 6.5 (IMDB), 86% (RT), 80% (Metacritic)
Mexican cinema does suffer a bit with the sensationalism of the cartel lifestyle, but there’s nothing glamorous about this film. Based on the real life story of Mexican beauty queen Laura Zúñiga, this hard hitting, violent thriller is in a different league. The action sequences and moments of excitement are balanced with somber scenes of hopelessness, focusing on the lower classes in Mexican society. An intriguing story, told expertly but above all else this is a very accessible film for those wanting to broaden their film horizons.
Watch if you liked: Narcos, Blow, Cartel Land, Amores Perros, Heli
Plot: A drug pusher grows increasingly desperate after a botched deal leaves him with a large debt to a ruthless drug lord.
Director: Nicolas Winding Refn
Scores: 7.4 (IMDB), 81% (RT), 72% (Metacritic)
The first of a trilogy is portrayed as a raw and unforgiving tale of greed and unpredictability. The aspiration for the high life through dodgy deals, loans to pay off loans, and trusting people just as reliable as the unreliable drug pusher, creates an endless cycle of violence and disappointment. The camera shakes about, the music pumps loudly and the violence seems all too real. It’s this low-budget realism that carries the film and is no doubt one of the contributing factors as to what left a lasting impression on audiences at the time. Fans of the gangster genre will love this.
Watch if you liked: Bronson, Drive, Brick, Layer Cake
Plot: Four friends/fledgling entrepreneurs, knowing that there’s something bigger and more innovative than the different error-checking devices they’ve built, wrestle over their new invention.
Director: Shane Carruth
Scores: 7 (IMDB), 71% (RT), 68% (Metacritic)
I still struggle to understand what on earth happens in Primer. This odd, low budget, time travelling film is distinctly unsettling, and immensely complicated. A search of the film on google brings up countless diagrams people have created in an attempt to rationalise the creativity of this mind-bending thriller. It is the kind of film you will want to watch over and over, and you may well have to if you want to try and understand it. It is a truly extraordinary science fiction thriller, a unique experience.
Watch if you liked: Upstream Color, Timecrimes, Looper
Plot: Chelios faces a Chinese mobster who has stolen his nearly indestructible heart and replaced it with a battery-powered ticker that requires regular jolts of electricity to keep working.
Directors: Mark Neveldine, Brian Taylor
Scores: 6.2 (IMDB), 63% (RT), 41% (Metacritic)
Crank 2 might look a bit out of place on this list, but its a firm favourite of mine in terms of pure escapism. Directors and writers Mark & Brian locked themselves in a room for 3 days with 5 bottles of tequila and churned out this ridiculous film, in which Jason Statham must electrocute himself in order to stay alive because someone nicked his heart. You don’t need to see Crank 1 to appreciate this nonsense, it more or less follows the same process, but you don’t get more thrilling than the Crank films.
Watch if you liked: The Transporter Trilogy, Crank 1, The Mechanic, Death Race
Plot: A drama based on the experiences of Kathryn Bolkovac, a Nebraska cop who served as a peacekeeper in post-war Bosnia and outed the U.N. for covering up a sex scandal.
Director: Larysa Kondracki
Scores: 7.2 (IMDB), 73% (RT), 59% (Metacritic)
It was a while since I saw this film, but one that has stayed with me for a long time. The reviews label the film as distinctly average, many of which criticize the depiction of horrendous events that take place, reaching for the exploitation card. I would argue that this is as realistic as they were able to get away with. If you are uncomfortable, sickened or offended by what you see in this film, then it has served it’s purpose. Films of this nature are not made to be enjoyed. This is a true story, told with great care and an excellent lead performance from Rachel Weisz, the thrill from this lies within the realism. Not one for the faint-hearted.
Watch if you liked: Irreversible, Eastern Promises, Lilya 4-ever
Plot: Shifty is an action packed 24 hours in the life of a young crack cocaine dealer on the outskirts of London. The sudden return home of his best friend sets in motion a chain of events that see Shifty’s life quickly spiral out of control.
Director: Eran Creevy
Scores: 6.5 (IMDB), 96% (RT)
It’s always worth being a bit cautious with UK Crime Thrillers, do your homework and make sure that it’s not some turgid football hooligan film. Thankfully, Shifty is not one of those. This low-budget, understated crime thriller is impressive to say the least, with a pair of great central performances and a real sense of authenticity, it’s a shame this has not been more widely seen. It steers clear of the faux-cockney nonsense, and manages to elevate simple events into something highly thrilling.
Watch if you liked: Ill Manors, Kidulthood, Fish Tank