A great thriller stays with you. They’re perfect movies to watch when you’re in the mood for some action, excitement, and thought-provoking twists and turns. (Especially if you’re not into full-blown horror.) Fortunately, Amazon Prime has an excellent selection of thrillers available to stream. From new releases to classics, here are the best thrillers you can currently stream via Amazon.
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First Reformed (2018)
Ethan Hawke stars as Toller, a priest in the midst of a crisis of faith after counseling a man who is overcome with fear for Earth’s doomed ecological future. After the man kills himself, Toller feels that same fear consuming him like a plague, transforming into pure existential dread. As he becomes closer with the deceased man’s wife as well as the despair that consumed him, Toller discovers a strange, twisted new faith that threatens to consume him entirely. Writer/director Paul Schrader, who wrote Taxi Driver and Raging Bull, earned a Best Original Screenplay nomination for First Reformed, and it’s easy to see why after white-knuckling it through this psychological thriller.
Rotten Tomatoes: 93%
Stars: Ethan Hawke, Amanda Seyfried, Cedric the Entertainer
Director: Paul Schrader
Runtime: 111 minutes
The Man from Nowhere (2010)
Every so often, a South Korean thriller breaks through to American audiences. (Parasite, anyone?) But in 2010, that was exceedingly rare. The Man from Nowhere was an exception. The action-thriller stars Won Bin as a former special agent turned pawnshop owner who befriends his neighbor’s daughter. But when the girl’s daughter steals a large amount of heroin at the behest of her lowlife boyfriend, the special agent is drawn into the Korean underworld to protect his young friend and her mother. They’re taken hostage by a gang and weaponized in a war against a rival gang, only to trigger the agent’s past and release all of the fury he’s pent up and hidden for years.
Rotten Tomatoes: 100%
Stars: Won Bin, Sae Ron Kim, Tae-hoon Kim
Director: Jeong-beom Lee
Runtime: 119 minutes
The Departed (2006)
The Departed has the unique distinction of being the film that finally earned Martin Scorsese an Oscar for Best Director. The film is actually a remake of a Hong Kong film, Infernal Affairs, with an all-star cast. Leonardo DiCaprio and Matt Damon headline the movie as William “Billy” Costigan and Colin Sullivan, respectively. Billy is a cop undercover within the organization of mob boss, Francis “Frank” Costello (Jack Nicholson). Meanwhile, Colin is a mole in the police department who answers directly to Frank. There’s some delicious tension as both Billy and Colin attempt to uncover each others’ identities while Frank’s mole-hunt turns deadly. Further complications arise when both Billy and Colin romantically pursue Dr. Madolyn Madden (Vera Farmiga). The Departed is a taut thriller from start to finish, and it deserves all of its accolades.
Rotten Tomatoes: 91%
Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Mark Wahlberg
Director: Martin Scorsese
Runtime: 151 minutes
Ten years ago, director Christopher Nolan made us believe that Inception is real. And indeed, this is a heist film like no other. Leonardo DiCaprio stars as Dom Cobb, a thief who steals vital intelligence from his targets after invading their dreams. When the enigmatic Mr. Saito (Ken Watanabe) offers Cobb a chance to end his exile from America, he assembles his dream team including Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), Ariadne (Ellen Page), and Eames (Tom Hardy). From there, the movie gets even wilder as Cobb leads his team deep into the subconscious mind of Robert Michael Fischer (Cillian Murphy) to plant an idea and make him believe that he came up with it himself. Marion Cotillard also has a terrific turn as Mal, a femme fatale who always haunts Cobb in his dreams. Inception is an unforgettable experience, and we’re still talking about that ending a decade later.
Rotten Tomatoes: 87%
Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Ellen Page, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard
Director: Christopher Nolan
Runtime: 148 minutes
The Report (2019)
A star-studded cast, including Adam Driver, Annette Bening, and Jon Hamm, tackled this film’s deep-dive into the investigation of and controversy around torture used by the CIA following the terrorist attacks on September 11. Examining the full 6,700-page report by Daniel Jones of the Senate Intelligence Committee, the story is based, in part, on Katherine Eban’s Vanity Fair article “Rorschach and Awe.” Premiering at the Sundance Film Festival in early 2019, the Amazon Studios movie had a brief theatrical release then went straight to the streaming service.
Rotten Tomatoes: 82%
Stars: Adam Driver, Annette Bening, Jon Hamm, Jennifer Morrison
Director: Scott Z. Burns
Runtime: 119 minutes
The Machinist (2004)
A machinist suffers from severe insomnia and psychological problems, which eventually lead to a serious accident at the workplace involving a coworker. After being fired, he slumps into a world of paranoia and delusions while trying to deal with the guilt. With Christian Bale heading up the cast, it’s no surprise this film was well-received. His method acting and ability to fully immerse himself in roles of troubled characters like this one, including losing a serious amount of weight to play the role, create a character that is both captivating and terrifying.
Rotten Tomatoes: 77%
Stars: Christian Bale, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Aitana Sanchez-Gijon
Director: Brad Anderson
Runtime: 102 minutes
The Cabin in the Woods (2012)
College students head to a remote cabin in the forest where they think they’ll be able to enjoy some quiet fun and relaxation. Instead, they end up being controlled and manipulated by technicians in an underground lab who are watching them, feeding them drugs, and watching as monsters and zombies attack the students. The plot sounds silly but the film was very well received by critics and audiences alike, who called the Joss Whedon-produced flick “funny, strange, and scary,” often all at the same time.
Rotten Tomatoes: 92%
Stars: Kristen Connolly, Chris Hemsworth, Anna Hutchison
Director: Drew Goddard
Runtime: 95 minutes
To Catch a Thief (1955)
Go way back in time for this Alfred Hitchcock classic, based on the novel of the same name by David Dodge. Cary Grant is a retired cat burglar who, in an attempt to save his reputation, catches an imposter targeting wealthy tourists in the French Riviera. It marked the last film project for Grace Kelly, who starred as Grant’s love interest, before she retired from acting to become Princess of Monaco.
Rotten Tomatoes: 96%
Stars: Cary Grant, Grace Kelly
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Runtime: 106 minutes
The Spy Who Came in From the Cold (1965)
Director Martin Ritt turned John le Carré’s novel, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, into one of the definitive thrillers of the Cold War era. Richard Burton stars in the film as Alec Leamas, a British intelligence officer whose fall from grace is carefully orchestrated to make him an ideal target for recruitment by East German operatives. And as Burton’s life spirals out of control, he falls for an idealistic communist named Nan Perry (Claire Bloom). Once Burton arrives in East Germany, the film ratchets up the intensity as he tries to execute his plan on behalf of the British. But even Burton isn’t aware of everything he needs to know about his risky plan or the price he will pay to see it through to the end.
Rotten Tomatoes: 86%
Stars: Richard Burton, Claire Bloom, Oskar Werner
Director: Martin Ritt
Runtime: 112 minutes
A Simple Favor (2018)
A widowed single mother and vlogger from a small town befriends a wealthy fashion executive after their kids have a playdate. Next thing she knows, she’s trying to solve the friend’s mysterious disappearance. The plot sounds simple but the film was a box office success thanks to performances by the leads Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively, earning over $97 million on just a $20 million budget.
Rotten Tomatoes: 84%
Stars: Anna Kendrick, Blake Lively, Henry Golding, Andrew Rannells
Director: Paul Feig
Runtime: 117 minutes
The Handmaiden (2016)
Dubbed an erotic psychological thriller, this South Korean film, also known as Ah-ga-ssi, is inspired by the novel Fingersmith by Sarah Waters, with a change in setting from the Victorian era to Korea during Japanese colonial rule. At the heart of the story is a con man with a sinister plot to seduce a Japanese heiress so he can have her committed and steal her money.
Rotten Tomatoes: 95%
Stars: Kim Min-hee, Kim Tae-ri, Ha Jung-woo, Cho Jin-woong
Director: Park Chan-wook
Runtime: 145 minutes
The Rainmaker (1997)
In the film based on the John Grisham novel of the same name, a recent law school graduate with no real career prospects finds himself caught up in a scheme with an ambulance chaser who hires him to find potential clients in a local hospital. With a star-studded cast, it has been called one of the best Hollywood adaptations of a Grisham novel.
Rotten Tomatoes: 83%
Stars: Matt Damon, Claire Danes, Jon Voight, Mary Kay Place, Mickey Rourke, Danny DeVito
Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Runtime: 135 minutes
Knives Out (2019)
In a family gathering that ends in tragedy with the death of the patriarch, a master detective must figure out who the perpetrator is. A classic thriller whodunit trope with a modern twist, the star-studded cast alone makes this film a must-watch. Performing well at the box office and receiving plenty of accolades for the screenplay, direction, and story, the movie was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay and was dubbed one of the top movies of 2019 by the National Board of Review.
Rotten Tomatoes: 97%
Stars: Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Ana de Armas, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Don Johnson, Toni Collette, Lakeith Stanfield, Katherine Langford, Jaeden Martell, Christopher Plummer
Director: Rian Johnson
Runtime: 130 minutes
The Usual Suspects (1995)
Arguably one of the best movies ever made, you’re taken through twists and turns as a small-time con man is interrogated by the police about a massacre and fire on a boat. As he takes the detective through a crazy and confusing story and reveals the identity of his crime lord boss, Keyser Soze, the detective listens intently, hoping to get some nugget of useful information out of the man to help the case. It’s one of the biggest twist endings ever that will shock first-time viewers and makes the movie worth watching again and again. The Writers Guild of America has ranked the film 35th on its list of the greatest screenplays of all time.
Rotten Tomatoes: 89%
Stars: Stephen Baldwin, Gabriel Byrne, Chazz Palminteri, Kevin Pollak, Pete Postlethwaite, Kevin Spacey, Suzy Amis, Benicio del Toro, Giancarlo Esposito
Director: Bryan Singer
Runtime: 106 minutes
Mission Impossible IV — Ghost Protocol (2011)
In the fourth film in the Mission Impossible franchise, Tom Cruise returns as IMF agent Ethan Hunt who is presented with yet another mission, should he choose to accept it. The plot of this film sees Hunt purposely imprisoned in Moscow in an attempt to track down a man known as Cobalt who is about to receive a file containing Russian nuclear launch codes from an assassin. Filled with high-tech scenes and high-flying action, as is par for the course with any of the Mission Impossible movies, it’s no surprise the film was a roaring success at the box office. It’s edge of your seat, popcorn in hand, movie night at home material.
Rotten Tomatoes: 94%
Stars: Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, Paula Patton
Director: Brad Bird
Runtime: 133 minutes
Break out the popcorn and turn down the lights to enjoy the high-velocity action that characterizes any Jason Statham film. In this one, he stars as Luke, an ex-cop who also, of course, has a background in cage fighting and a deep desire for revenge against the men who killed his pregnant wife. By chance, he comes across one of them chasing down a gifted child to use for their criminal activities, and he takes it upon himself to not only seek vengeance once and for all, but also to protect the little girl. Predictably, she has nothing to worry about because Luke will do what needs to be done with gusto, flare, and a grimace that has enemies shaking in their boots. There’s lots of gun-wielding and epic fight scenes to make for a thoroughly entertaining watch when you’re in the mood for an escapist flick.
Rotten Tomatoes: 58%
Stars: Jason Statham, Catherine Chan, Chris Sarandon, Robert John Burke
Director: Boaz Yakin
Runtime: 95 minutes
We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011)
Lionel Shriver’s psychological thriller, We Need to Talk About Kevin, was adapted for the screen by director Lynne Ramsay with Ezra Miller in the title role. Regardless, this movie belongs to Tilda Swinton, who plays Kevin’s mother, Eva. John C. Reilly also has a rare dramatic turn as Eva’s husband and Kevin’s father, Franklin. The story begins in the present, as Eva struggles to deal with the enormity of Kevin’s crime against society and herself. But as Eva examines her past, she begins to wonder what part she had to play in raising a monster under her own roof. Swinton’s performance is electric, and it carries the film all the way to its conclusion. However, Miller’s Kevin is the rare screen monster who is all too human with the evil he inflicts upon the world.
Rotten Tomatoes: 75%
Stars: Tilda Swinton, John C. Reilly, Ezra Miller
Director: Lynne Ramsay
Runtime: 112 minutes
You Were Never Really Here (2017)
Joaquin Phoenix is on point in Lynne Ramsay’s You Were Never Really Here. The Oscar-winning actor plays Joe, a brutalizer-for-hire, with a specialty in rescuing trafficked girls. Suffering from suicidal thoughts and years of trauma from his childhood through his military career, Joe agrees to a new mission. It’s standard fare: Rescue a senator’s daughter and take down anyone that gets in the way. The only trouble is that those involved are part of a much deeper political conspiracy, and Joe lands right in the middle of the villains and their victims. You Were Never Really Here has teeth, and it bites — a lot. Those uneasy with gore may want to choose something else on this list. For those that can stomach Joe’s reign of hammer-blows, you’ll be rewarded with a brilliantly directed character study and a mesmerizing lead performance from our latest cinematic Joker.
Rotten Tomatoes: 89%
Stars: Joaquin Phoenix, Ekaterina Samsonov
Director: Lynne Ramsay
Runtime: 89 minutes
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