Looking for best thriller movies with edge-of-your-seat action sequences? Or best thriller movies that have really great storylines or concepts? How about best thriller movies that have unpredictable endings? Well, in this list, we got them all for you!
Hollywood has produced many kinds of thriller movies. When we say thriller, that means the action-packed sequences are just not about mindless car chase sequences or shoot ‘em up types. We’re talking about great storytelling that will not make you take away your eyes for one second – or you’ll miss a lot!
That’s what a thriller film does. The way the film was shot and edited will dictate this kind of pacing. But how the film was written will add more to the edge-of-your-seat unpredictability that many audiences crave for today. It also helps that you’ve got great acting delivered by Hollywood’s finest.
No matter your age, we’re sure you’ve loved watching these kinds of films. So let’s take a look at some of the best thriller movies from different decades. Perfect list for thriller movies binge-watching later on!
“If you let my daughter go now, that’ll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don’t, I will look for you, I will find you and I will kill you.”
If you’re not pushed to the edge of your seat in thriller suspense by this quote, we don’t know what will! Such powerful words from a father whose daughter was just kidnapped by unknown terrorists while vacationing in Europe. This is what the film Taken is all about. That father is Liam Neeson, formerly a dramatic type of actor who suddenly got action movie cred when this film garnered international fame.
And why wouldn’t it? With a quote like that and a premise like that, it sets up an interesting cat-and-mouse chase redefined. What’s the edge here is that his character is not only just a simple father with raising-a-teenage-daughter issues. He’s also a past CIA agent, and a damn good one. So terrorists beware!
Watch this 2008 film, and binge on the sequel to boot. Equally entertaining! And see why we’re recommending it as one of the best thriller movies around.
2. The Fugitive
Dr. Kimble: I didn’t kill my wife.
US Marshal Gerard: I don’t care.
Such a simple exchange of dialogue, but it injects this action-packed thriller film further, making it one of the best-written thrillers around. The Fugitive is a 1993 film starring Harrison Ford as a successful doctor named Kimble whose wife was murdered. He was framed as a suspect, and got convicted for it.
The good Dr. Kimble protests his sentence, and escapes before being put in prison. He vows to find out for himself just who truly killed his lovely wife. Enter Tommy Lee Jones as US Marshal Gerard, the lead in pursuit of this fugitive. And since he’s not running after a common criminal, the intelligent doctor falls of their radar one too many times.
The film is actually based on the TV series that was popular in the 1960s. But this ‘90s film version makes the action and the drama more compact and grounded. This earns the film a recommendation for being one of our best thriller movies in this lifetime. Go watch this if it fell off your radar! It’s better than some of the mindless thriller-wannabes we see today.
3. North by Northwest
The master of suspense gives us a well-written thriller with North by Northwest. Director Alfred Hitchcock is known to be a great builder of suspense. But some of his films are good in building up an edge-of-your-seat intellectual-physical thrill, and this film is one of them.
The 1959 film stars Cary Grant as Roger Thornhill, who initially got mistaken as George Kaplan. This mistaken identity movie trope is exercised very cleverly in this well-written narrative. As the New Yorker tries to reason out of his predicament by saying that he is not George Kaplan, the more he gets buried in a mysterious and thrilling chain of events.
Frustrated by being kidnapped, somewhat drugged, and jailed for being disruptive, Roger resolves to find just who this George Kaplan guy is. Little did he know that he will be entering a bigger web of mystery in his efforts of clearing his identity. Go watch this film and see why we included it in this list of best thriller movies made in this lifetime! Hitchcock doesn’t disappoint.
What will you do if your daughter gets kidnapped within your quiet suburban neighborhood? What’s worse is that there was a suspect who got picked up, but released later on for lack of evidence. A frustrated father would normally wait for justice to be served. But in this instance, the father takes matters into his own hands.
Such a thrilling line of dramatic action here, provided by director Denis Villeneuve and writer Aaron Guzikowski. The 2013 film stars Hugh Jackman as that frustrated father, and Jake Gyllenhaal as the detective that tries to solve the case in a legal way. But having this frustrated father in the way gets in the way as well. But can you really blame him?
This is what the thrill of the film is, as we journey with the frustrated parents in finding their abducted children. Watch and see why we included this in our list of best thriller movies from Hollywood.
“Pop quiz, hotshot. There’s a bomb on a bus. Once the bus goes 50 miles an hour, the bomb is armed. If it drops below 50, it blows up. What do you do? What do you do?”
What do you do, indeed? Well, if you’re Keanu Reeves playing LAPD officer Jack Traven, then you’ll do every possible way to save those people in the bus first. So what he does is, he steps on it and tries to alert everyone.
But something goes awry with the bus driver, and a civilian takes over the driving. That civilian, a woman named Annie Porter, is played by Sandra Bullock. When she is appraised that the bus can’t go below 50 mph, then they keep on driving until that bomb is detonated. But the terrorist who planted it wants money, or he’ll blow up the bus.
Oh, such a dilemma. But this 1994 film charmed its way into the hearts of box-office supporters. Sandra’s charm and Keanu’s eager hero work well together in this kind of thrill-inducing movie. That’s why it’s in our list of recommended best thriller movies to watch.
6. In the Line of Fire
What do you do if an assassin threatens to kill the US president? Nothing new there, you could say. But what if this would-be assassin is a former CIA agent? Aye, now there’s the rub! With an assassin that has that kind of training, it’s hard to tell what happens next, or when, or where!
This is basically the premise of In the Line of Fire. This 1993 film stars Clint Eastwood as a US Secret Service agent detailed to guard the president. What’s great about his character Frank Horrigan is that he’s the lone agent who’s still actively serving for duty since the time of JFK’s assassination. Of course, he regrets not being at work during that fateful day for JFK.
But he makes it up here. Protecting the president at all costs while trying to capture the elusive would-be assassin is the greatest challenge of all. So go see why we listed this here as one of the best thriller movies from Hollywood. It certainly is worth the watch!
7. Die Hard
“Yippie ki-yay, m*th*rf*ck*r!”
“Shoot the glass!”
Two immortal quotes from two immortal characters that gave us thrills back in the ‘80s when it first came out. The first is from John McClane, the NYPD cop out on a yuletide holiday visit on the west coast where his estranged wife works. The second is from Hans Gruber, the German leader of a terrorist group who took over the building where the wife works. What would an NYPD cop in LA do?
Such a thrilling premise for an action-packed film. Die Hard is 1988’s big hit, catapulting Bruce Willis into international fame and action hero status. As John, he battles it out with the endearing Alan Rickman, who portrayed Hans. And this is one of the most unforgettable hero-villain duo in cinema today.
The first film is always the most precious. That’s why it’s the one we included here in our list of best thriller movies to watch. And after this, go binge-watch the series, because they’re equally thrilling!
8. Final Destination
What if you were able to cheat death once, will you be able to cheat it for long? This is basically the premise that the film Final Destination toyed with. This obviously teen-themed film still gets to be in this list of best thriller movies because it also gives adults the thrills. And it hooks us with the incredible storyline of having premonitions and cheating death. But it also has the elements of how death later catches up with those cheaters.
The story starts with a teenager about to board a flight to Paris with his classmates and teacher. But while waiting for take-off, he reacts and panics with the premonition of a plane crash. His panic creates a ruckus with some of his peers, so they get thrown out of the flight. However, when the plane departs, it indeed explodes, making the premonition a reality.
You’d think it ends there. But of course, death has to search for these people who escaped its clutches. And this is where the thrills start for this film. Do watch it towards the end to see how they all fare!
9. I Know What You Did Last Summer
Another teen-themed film makes it to our list of best thriller movies to watch if they fell off your radar. I Know What You Did Last Summer stars a handful of popular teen actors who eventually graduated to better adult roles. But this one is still worth revisiting.
The 1997 film is basically a slasher film, but the build-up of the events is what qualifies it to be a thriller. The story revolves around a group of teen friends who accidentally ran over a person during their senior year. They decide to keep the hit-and-run a secret, and disposed of the victim’s body.
But a year after the incident, one of the girls receive a mysterious note that says “I know what you did last summer.” So of course, she calls on her other friends who know this secret. They try to find out who sent this, in the process getting harmed along the way. Go watch this film and see the thrills of it!
Before the Wachowskis directing-writing-producing tandem of siblings hit it big with The Matrix, they first made this thriller-packed film called Bound.
The 1996 film stars the sultry Jennifer Tilly as Violet, a mob wife who’s fed up of being treated like nothing by his mob-serving partner. She meets an ex-con custodian of their apartment building one day, in the form of Corky, played by Gina Gershon. Corky is a butchy-femmey mix kind of lesbian, and Violet gets attracted to her.
Seeing Corky as an accomplice, Violet plans to run away from her mob partner. She lays out the plan to Corky, who also has the skills to pull this heist off. And indeed, huge cash is involved since they also steal money from the mob in the process.
Such an ambitious plan to fool the mob, isn’t it? Will the women pull it off? This is what’s thrilling about this movie, since you don’t know where the story will lead or if the women will pull it though. And knowing the stylistic approach to cinema of the Wachowskis, this is indeed very entertaining to watch. So go watch this one and see why we’re recommending it as one of the best thriller movies around!