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The 15 best thriller movies on Netflix (August 2021)

Casino Royale and Inception are thriller movies on Netflix
Casino Royale and Inception are thriller movies on Netflix. Pic credit: Sony/Warner Bros.

It is always the perfect time to watch a great thriller movie, and Netflix has a ton of options to keep any viewer on the edge of their seats.

From the early days of cinema and the brilliance of Alfred Hitchcock to the action-packed movies of the high concept era of the ’80s, thrillers come in all shapes and sizes with something for every movie fan.

If you are someone who likes to be scared, there are plenty of thrillers with serial killers, sociopaths, and cannibals to keep you awake at night.

For someone who likes their thriller movies to be more action-based, there are plenty of murder mysteries, spy thrillers, and crime stories that will have you on the edge of your seat.

From some of the best movies in cinema history to great Netflix originals that have hit the streaming service over the past few years, here are 15 of the best thriller movies you can catch in August 2021 on Netflix.

Updated in August 2021 – Every month, movies come and go from Netflix, and this month, there were two changes made to our list. It is a good thing that more movies arrive on Netflix all the time.

Inception (2010)

The best action movies on Netflix (July 2020)
The Christopher Nolan movie Inception. Pic credit: Warner Bros

In 2010, Christopher Nolan brought the world one of his mind-bending sci-fi action movies.

Inception starred Leonardo DiCaprio as part of a team that breaks into people’s minds and steals their memories.

He is offered a chance to have his full criminal history erased if he plants new ideas in the memory of a CEO of a major corporation.

The movie won four Oscars, while also picking up a nomination for Best Picture.

Lincoln Lawyer (2011)

The Lincoln Lawyer
Matthew McConaughey in The Lincoln Lawyer. Pic credit: Lionsgate

Matthew McConaughey stars as defense attorney Mickey Haller in The Lincoln Lawyer.

The movie is based on the series of books by mystery writer Michael Connelly, the series a spinoff of Connelly’s Harry Bosch novels.

In this movie, a wealthy family hires Mickey to represent their son (Ryan Phillipe), who was accused of murdering a young girl. However, when Mickey realizes the truth, his life is put in danger and he has to figure out how to do the right thing without betraying his oath as an attorney.

Midnight Run (1988)

Charles Grodin and Robert De Niro on a bus in Midnight Run. Pic credit: Universal

Midnight Run is a 1988 comedy action thriller with Robert De Niro and Charles Grodin electrifying the screen.

The plot has a bounty hunter (De Niro) trying to bring in a mob accountant (Grodin) after he embezzled $15 million from the mob.

However, as he tries to pull off this task, they two find themselves on the run from gangsters, corrupt federal officers, and rival bounty hunters.

The deadpan humor makes this a movie that is just as fun to watch today as it was over 30 years ago.

The Strangers (2008)

The masked invaders in The Strangers.
The masked invaders in The Strangers. Pic credit: Universal

Released in 2008, The Strangers is a home invasion movie with a twist.

Scott Speedman and Liv Tyler star as a couple in a remote vacation home who are enjoying the isolation until three masked strangers show up and terrorize them.

The couple fights for their survival with no idea who these home invaders are or why they targeted this house. Out of the onslaught of home invasion horror thrillers, The Strangers remain one of the best.

Mystic River (2003)

Mystic River
Sean Penn and Kevin Bacon in Mystic River. Pic credit: Warner Bros.

Based on the novel by Dennis Lehane, Mystic River tells the story of three childhood friends who have grown up to become very different people as adults.

Sean Penn is Jimmy Markum, who is an ex-con running a convenience store. Kevin Bacon is Sean, a police detective working in their Boston neighborhood.

Tim Robbins is Dave, a problematic man kidnapped as a child and sexually abused for days before escaping. When someone kills Jimmy’s daughter Katie, Jimmy believes Dave killed her.

The movie is a powerful story of trauma and shows what a father will do to find justice.

Army of the Dead (2021)

Army of the Dead
The cast of Army of the Dead. Pic credit: Netflix

Army of the Dead is Zack Snyder’s new movie as he leaves the superhero genre and moves back to the zombie genre.

Snyder gained his earliest acclaim with the remake of George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead and that movie proved to be a fantastic addition to the zombie genre.

In this new Netflix movie, Snyder has the zombie genre kept in one place, as all the zombies are in Las Vegas, surrounded by a wall keeping them contained.

However, when a team is put together (with Dave Bautista as the lead) to go in and steal money from a casino vault, they learn the zombies have developed intelligence and are ready for a fight.

Crimson Peak (2015)

Crimson Peak
The cast of Crimson Peak. Pic credit: Universal

Guillermo del Toro returned to gothic horror in 2015 for the movie Crimson Peak.

The cast is fantastic. Aspiring author Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska) moving to England with her new husband (Tom Hiddleston) and his sister (Jessica Chastain).

However, when the three move into the large creepy dilapidated mansion, Edith sees mysterious ghosts in the house and she descends into madness as everything falls apart around her.

The Departed (2006)

The Departed
Leonardo Di Caprio, Matt Damon, and Jack Nicholson in The Departed. Pic credit: Warner Bros.

In 2006, Martin Scorsese remade a Hong Kong action thriller called Infernal Affairs. It was an unusual move by Scorsese, who remade it almost extremely faithfully. There was even an elevator scene that was a shot-for-shot copy of the original movie.

Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Mark Wahlberg, and Alec Baldwin star in this movie about the war between the police and the organized crime that runs the city.

Nicholson is the mob boss that sends an undercover mole played by Matt Damon into the police academy. Meanwhile, the police have sent an undercover police officer into the mafia family, and these two men play both sides against each other.

The Departed was a success, with Scorsese winning Best Director and the movie winning Best Picture at the Academy Awards.

The Da Vinci Code (2006)

The Da Vinci Code
Tom Hanks and Audrey Tautou in The Da Vinci Code. Pic credit: Sony

Based on the bestselling novel by Dan Brown, The Da Vinci Code stars Tom Hanks as Robert Langdon, a professor of religious symbology from Harvard who is the prime suspect in a murder investigation.

Langdon slips away from the police and works with a cryptologist (Audrey Tautou), trying to find out more about what happened and why.

This leads him down a wormhole where he finds evidence that the Church has been hiding controversial truths from the world since the times of Jesus Christ.

Nocturnal Animals (2016)

Nocturnal Animals
Amy Adams in Nocturnal Animals. Pic credit: Focus Features

Nocturnal Animals is a 2016 neo-noir thriller starring Amy Adams as Susan Morrow, an art gallery owner who received a novel written by her ex-husband, Edward (Jake Gyllenhaal).

She is in a deteriorating marriage to a man named Hutton (Armie Hammer). She becomes consumed by the novel, dedicated to her, and even named after her old nickname.

The movie flips between the fictional story from the novel and Susan’s life and the parallels she sees.

The Impossible (2012)

The Impossible
Naomi Watts and Tom Holland in The Impossible. Pic credit: Summit Entertainment

Fans of Tom Holland from the Spider-Man movies and the recent Netflix hit movie The Devil All the Time can now see his big-screen debut.

And it was a big one.

A 16-yar-old Holland co-starred in the thriller The Impossible as the son of Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts. The film deals with the true-life Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004.

McGregor and Watts are a husband and wife who goes on a vacation to Thailand with their three sons for Christmas in 2004. However, while they are there, the 2004 tsunami blasts the beach resort they are at.

The movie separates Watts’ Maria and one son, Holland’s Lucas, from her husband and the other two kids. While McGregor’s Thomas sends his two younger kids with another family to the mountains for safety, he remains behind to search for Maria and Lucas.

Casino Royale (2006)

Netflix: Casino Royale
Daniel Craig in Casino Royale. Pic credit: Sony

In 2006, the James Bond franchise replaced Pierce Brosnan with Daniel Craig, and he sparked new life into the franchise with Casino Royale.

The series went back to a darker, more violent era, more similar to Timothy Dalton and Sean Connery than Brosnan and Roger Moore. However, it also owed a lot to the Bourne movies, which changed how people looked at spy movies.

This film had Craig as 007, as he set out at the start of his career. He set out with the order to assassinate two targets. When this leads to the villain La Chiffre as the real threat, Bond goes undercover at a high-stakes poker game with the orders to bring him down.

The Old Guard (2020)

The Old Guard on Netflix
The Old Guard on Netflix. Pic credit: Aimee Spinks/Netflix

The Old Guard is a new Netflix movie based on a comic book about a group of immortal warriors tasked with helping people through centuries.

Charlize Theron stars in the lead role as the oldest of them, all while Kiki Layne stars as a newly resurrected immortal that shows up just in time.

After years of fighting terrorists and pure evil, the group now face their greatest enemy — a big pharm entrepreneurwho wants to replicate their gifts to become richer.

Check out our review of The Old Guard here, as this is one of the best new thriller movies on Netflix.

Uncut Gems (2019)

Uncut Gems
Adam Sandler in Uncut Gems. Pic credit: A24

For anyone who thinks that Adam Sandler only stars in juvenile sophomoric comedies, check out Uncut Gems to see a different side of the comedy actor.

Uncut Gems is not a comedy, and Sandler proves to be up to changing genres in this thriller that hit theaters in a limited release in 2019 before arriving later on Netflix.

Benny Safdie and Josh Safdie had previously created a dark and disturbing thriller where they changed everything people knew about Twilight actor Robert Pattinson in Good Time. It made sense that Sandler would trust them in Uncut Gems.

Sandler stars as a New York City jeweler who does anything he can to stay afloat when his gambling debts rise. Sandler picked up several critics awards for his role, including winning the Best Male Lead Award at the Independent Spirit Awards.

Shutter Island (2010)

Shutter Island
Leonardo DiCaprio and Mark Ruffalo in Martin Scorsese’s Shutter Island. Pic credit: Paramount

Martin Scorsese made a genre movie with Shutter Island, a horror-thriller that plays with the viewer’s expectations.

Leonardo DiCaprio and Mark Ruffalo are two special agents sent to Shutter Island to investigate a disappearance at a mental asylum for the criminally insane.

As they investigate, things take a turn, and they believe something supernatural might be to blame.

With Scorsese at the helm, the movie is a masterclass, and everyone involved leads the audience on a twisting and turning masterpiece.

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