The best of Netflix right now if you're looking for... a thriller
If you're anything like us, you're confronted with that same question everyday. What will I watch on Netflix tonight?
Well we know when it comes to Netflix, mood is a major factor. Sometimes you're in the mood for something dark and brooding. Other times, you just want something light you can switch your brain off to. At times, you're in the mood for something new. Then again, you may want to re-watch an old reliable.
With that in mind, we're assembling a series of Netflix recommendations with plenty to choose from. Every month, we'll give our top picks of shows, filums and specials with a different theme in mind each time.
The first of our series covered romance after which we did comedy. Last month, horrors were recommended, given the month that was in it. But every now and again there's nothing like 'thriller night'. Thus this month, our selection of shows and movies on Netflix should get your minds pondering and hearts racing.
We've said it before and we'll say it again - it's a crying shame that Jake Gyllenhaal doesn't have an Oscar yet. Directed by Dan Gilroy, who also helmed Gyllenhaal in Netflix movie 'Velvet Buzzsaw' (which was very strange and not very good), the actor plays a cunning journalist and petty thief named Louis Bloom, who gets so caught up in his work that he starts to see himself as a part of the stories he shoots.
This sci-fi thriller is a strong three-hander between Domhnall Gleeson, Oscar Isaac and Alicia Vikander. The latter plays a highly advanced humanoid A.I. while Gleeson plays a programmer who falls under her spell. Like 'Nightcrawler', 'Ex Machina' is an impressive directorial debut, this one from Alex Garland, writer of 'The Beach' and screenplays for '28 Days Later' and 'Sunshine'.
'Bodyguard' was a major hit for BBC when it aired last year and now it's available on Netflix. 'Game of Thrones' star Richard Madden suits up as our protagonist - Police Sergeant David Budd, a British Army war veteran suffering from PTSD working for the Royalty and Specialist Protection Branch. He meets his match in Julia Montague MP, fabulously played by Keeley Hawes.
One of the best crime-drama-thriller series on Netflix has got to be 'Mindhunter'. It centres on two FBI agents, Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff) and Bill Tench (Holt McCallany) who are developing a Behavioural Science Unit for the FBI based on interviews they conduct with imprisoned serial killers. They utilise this knowledge to solve ongoing cases and with such real-life figures as Edmund Kemper and Charles Manson turning up, things get creepy.
How To Get Away With Murder
Produced by Shonda Rimes (best known as the showrunner of 'Grey's Anatomy'), 'How to Get Away with Murder' reignited the love for the truly awesome Viola Davis. She plays a law professor at a university in Philly who, with five of her students, becomes entwined in a murder plot. Davis won a Primetime Emmy Award for her terrific lead performance as well as two Screen Actors Guild Awards.
'Gone Girl' confirmed that yup, David Fincher's still got it in buckets and spades. Based on the Gillian Flynn bestseller (Flynn also adapted the screenplay), it follows the aftermath of Nick Dunne's (Ben Affleck) wife Amy's (Rosamund Pike) disappearance. If you haven't seen this or read the book, that summary will suffice as the twists and turns the plot takes will shock and astound you.
‘Prisoners’ focusses on the abduction of two young girls in Pennsylvania and the subsequent search for the abductor by the police. Dissatisfied with the police’s efforts, the father of one of the missing girls takes matters into his own hands. Starring Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal, the film is directed by the extraordinary Denis Villeneuve, who has previously helmed ‘Sicario,’ ‘Arrival’, and ‘Blade Runner 2049’ (as well as the upcoming ‘Dune’ remake).
Newlywed Jennifer (Brenda Song) awakens with amnesia having been hit by a car after running away from a hooded man. Fortunately her husband Russell (Mike Vogel - 'The Help') is a constant support to her both in the hospital and when they return home. BUT THERE'S A TWIST. Just to warn you in advance, this is one those so bad it's good Netflix movies.
Samuel L Jackson gives what is possibly his creepiest performance outside of any of his collaborations with Quentin Tarantino. He plays an LAPD officer who is furious when an amicable interracial couple (played by the charismatic Patrick Wilson and Kerry Washington) move into his neighbourhood. His attitude and behaviour towards them turns increasingly inappropriate and sinister.
This horror-thriller starring Logan Marshall-Green was a hit on the festival circuit before it made its way into the mainstream. It sees a man accept an invitation to a dinner party hosted by his ex-wife, which he brings his new girlfriend to. Of course, he can't help but be suspicious as to why his ex asked him there at all...
'No Escape' is far from the best thriller - or most PC one, at that - out there but it's a bit of craic. And Pierce Brosnan pops up in it. Lake Bell and Owen Wilson play the parents of two sweet little girls. They get trapped in an unnamed South-East Asian country during a violent uprising. The action sequences are impressive and it's fast-paced and exciting.
Spike Lee directs 'Inside Man' which follows various characters involved in an elaborate bank heist on Wall Street. Denzel Washington plays Detective Keith Frazier, the NYPD's hostage negotiator, Clive Owen is Dalton Russell, the mastermind behind the heist, and Jodie Foster plays Madeleine White, a Manhattan power broker who becomes involved at the request of the bank's founder. It's nail-biting in its anticipation and the ending is a satisfactory pay-off.
An ominous presence drives masses of people to commit suicide. Malorie (Sandra Bullock), who is expecting, is forced to lock herself in a house with a group of strangers to protect herself from the threat. The thriller-horror is helmed by Emmy winner Susanne Bier, renowned for directing 'The Night Manager', and became something of a cultural phenomenon when people starting imitating the film's blindfold activities once it hit the streaming service last December.
'Cam' depicts cam-girl Lola (real name Alice) who has a dedicated following on her streaming website, but wakes one morning to find that another user has stolen her identity. Madeline Brewer, who has starred in 'Black Mirror,' 'The Handmaid's Tale,' and 'Orange Is The New Black', is extremely convincing as the lead. It's a seedy, immersive, and fresh psychological thriller. Its message about how far we've come in modern tech is haunting.
Liam Neeson was doing a lot of action-thriller-type movies for a while there. In fact, 'Non-Stop' director Jaume Collet-Serra also collaborated with Neeson on 'Run All Night', 'Unknown' and, most recently, 'The Commuter'. Anyway, 'Non-Stop' is one of the better ones. It's basically 'Taken' on a plane, or 'Snakes on a Plane' without the snakes. You get the gist.
A Simple Favour
This mish-mash of comedy, mystery, melodrama, thriller and film noir comes from Paul Feig, who directed hit comedy 'Bridesmaids' and more recently helmed 'Last Christmas'. Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively star as Stephanie and Emily, respectively, two moms who make friends with one another. Emily is a refined and fascinating but mysterious individual who, upon suddenly disappearing, Stephanie becomes obsessed with finding.
'American Psycho' genuinely gets funnier every time you watch it but that first viewing is pretty intense. The psychological thriller stars Christian Bale in one of his most iconic and impressive roles, Patrick Bateman, a wealthy New York City investment banking executive with a psychopathic, hedonistic, violent alter-ego. It's highly quotable with lines like 'Do you like Huey Lewis and the News?', 'Hey Paul!' and 'I need to return some videotapes'. Those were the days, huh?
You Were Never Really Here
If you thought Joaquin Phoenix was terrifyingly violent in 'Joker', you might want to check out 'You Were Never Really Here' (though obviously, he's actually the hero in this one, sort of). 'We Need to Talk about Kevin' director Lynne Ramsay directs and pens the screenplay. Phoenix plays a veteran who tracks down missing girls for a living. One case he is hired to solve will undo the way he views his work and life.
In his Academy Award-winning role, Denzel Washington plays a seasoned LAPD narcotics cop showing Ethan Hawke's officer the ropes, but Washington's character's corruption becomes increasingly evident. Set over a 12-hour period, 'Training Day' is a taut and engrossing crime-thriller. Its writer David Ayer went on to a successful directing career between 'Suicide Squad' and Netflix feature 'Bright'.
Antoine Fuqua, who helmed 'Training Day', reunited with Washington on 'The Equalizer'. Mind you it has more qualities of an action movie than their previous project. Co-starring Chloe Grace Moretz, it follows a widower with a shady past, who initially strives to live a quiet life. However his burning desire for justice means he becomes embroiled in a fight against Russian gangsters.
More of a slow burner than other entries on this list, the third act of 'The Beguiled' proves unpredictable and shocking. Directed by Sofia Coppola ('The Virgin Suicides', 'Lost in Translation'), it features a fantastic all-star cast including Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst, Elle Fanning and Colin Farrell. When a wounded Union soldier is taken into a girls school in Virginia, he awakens in them secret, dark desires.
If we're going to throw in a classic thriller, it has to be 'The Fugitive', right? Harrison Ford is Richard Kimble, believed to have murdered his wife, now he must find the real killer. Hot on his trail is a team of U.S. Marshals led by Deputy Samuel Gerard (played by Tommy Lee Jones). It inspired a spin-off, a parody and short-lived TV series remake.
Directed by Taylor Sheridan, who is best known as the writer of ‘Sicario’ and its sequel 'Soldado', ‘Wind River’ may star MCU actors Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye) and Elizabeth Olsen (Scarlet Witch), but it couldn’t be further from the superhero franchise. Set in Wyoming, a veteran hunter and FBI agent investigate the murder of a woman on a Native American reservation. This dark, cold, unsettling film went unjustly under the radar when it was released in 2017.
Zero Dark Thirty
In our opinion, this is Kathryn Bigelow's best feature (well, aside from 'Point Break'), even better than her Best Picture winner 'The Hurt Locker'. Its ensemble cast includes Jessica Chastain, Jason Clarke and Kyle Chandler. The flick depicts the search for al-Qaeda terrorist leader Osama bin Laden in the aftermath of 9/11. It was a feat that took ten years. This is gripping stuff.
Before co-starring in 'Silver Linings Playbook' together, Bradley Cooper and Robert De Niro worked together on sci-fi thriller 'Limitless'. Cooper plays a struggling writer who starts to take a nootropic drug called NZT-48 which allows him to access all of his brain abilities. Eddie's life starts to make vast improvements but something sinister is afoot - because isn't it always?
A more recent addition to Netflix is the series 'Unbelievable'. It is based on the true story of a teenage girl who was charged with lying about having been raped. 'Booksmart' star Kaitlyn Dever plays the young woman in question. Toni Collette and Merritt Weaver play the detectives defending her case. All three are brilliant and the series has impressed critics and audiences all over.
Another thriller series worth checking out on Netflix is 'The Sinner'. In the first season, Detective Harry Ambrose (Bill Pullman) investigates a troubled woman (Jessica Biel) who stabbed a man to death. The second season sees Ambrose returns to his hometown after a young boy confesses to poisoning a couple. The mystery that unravels across the eight episodes of the respective seasons is tantalising.