The Best Thrillers on Amazon Prime Video Right Now (May 2021)

Almost everyone wants a little excitement in their lives. That’s what thrillers are for. Many movie genres are somewhat predictable. But thrillers have the leeway to throw the rulebook out of the window. These are the stories that build suspense and force the viewer to question the events as they unfold before them. Surprise, anticipation, mystery, and anxiety are all tools of the trade for thrillers, and they can bring moviegoers to the edge of their seats. Thankfully, Amazon Prime Video has a wide selection of thrillers that you can watch at a moment’s notice. You don’t even have to search through the lesser flicks to find them. We’ve already put together a list of Prime Video’s best thrillers. Now, you can sit back and get ready for some thrills.

Amazon Prime may have a robust catalog, but it doesn’t have everything. Luckily, we’ve also curated roundups of the best thrillers on Netflix and the best thrillers on Hulu.

An Inspector Calls (2015)

Thriller fans may have missed An Inspector Calls because it was a TV movie in the United Kingdom. However, Prime Video is giving this terrific film another chance to find an audience. In 1912, the Birling family’s engagement celebration for Sheila (Chloe Pirrie) and her fiancé, Gerald Croft (Kyle Soller), is interrupted by Inspector Goole (David Thewlis) as he informs the family about the suicide of a young woman named Eva Smith (Sophie Rundle). Goole is such a force of nature that his interrogations bring to light the secrets of the guilty. But who is truly responsible for Eva’s death?

Rotten Tomatoes: N/A
Stars: David Thewlis, Sophie Rundle, Chloe Pirrie, Finn Cole, Miranda Richardson
Director: Aisling Walsh
Rating: N/A
Runtime: 90 minutes

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Arrival (2015)

Arrival is not your typical sci-fi alien movie. Instead, Denis Villeneuve’s adaptation of Ted Chiang’s Story of Your Life is a powerful tale about Louise Banks (Amy Adams), a linguist who is recruited to communicate with aliens who have come to Earth. Louise is joined by Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner) as they search for a way to decipher the aliens’ language. At the same time, Louise is haunted by visions of her daughter while a fearful world is pushed to the brink of war. Why have the aliens come to Earth? Even when Louise has her answers, she has to deal with the personal repercussions of what she has learned.

Rotten Tomatoes: 94%
Stars: Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker, Michael Stuhlbarg, Tzi Ma
Director: Denis Villeneuve
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 116 minutes

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The Wall

The Wall (2017)

The Wall is a very stripped-down thriller with only three major roles. In Iraq, military sniper Shane Matthews (John Cena) and his spotter, Sergeant Allen “Ize” Isaac (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), are assigned to make sure that a pipeline construction site is clear from enemy forces. Unfortunately, a feared sniper known as Juba (Laith Nakli) successfully draws them into a trap, and wounds both men. As the soldiers hide behind a crumbling wall, Juba uses the radio to learn more about them and to advance his larger plans. That’s because Juba has done this before, and his words are also weapons in his arsenal.

Rotten Tomatoes: 65%
Stars: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, John Cena, Laith Nakli
Director: Sreenath
Rating: R
Runtime: 88 minutes

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Layer Cake

Layer Cake (2004)

In Layer Cake, a pre-James Bond Daniel Craig stars as XXXX, which is the only name we get for him in this flick. XXXX is a London businessman who is involved in the drug trade. He wants to get out of the business in favor of something more legitimate. Unfortunately, mob boss Jimmy Price (Kenneth Cranham) has other ideas. Instead, Jimmy wants XXXX to find a kidnapped girl named Charlie (Nathalie Lunghi). Jimmy also gives XXXX the dangerous task of moving one million ecstasy pills that were stolen from vengeful Serbian gangsters. And XXXX soon becomes a target when the Serbians come to London looking for revenge.

Rotten Tomatoes: 80%
Stars: Daniel Craig, Colm Meaney, Kenneth Cranham, George Harris, Jamie Foreman
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Rating: R
Runtime: 105 minutes

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A Simple Plan

A Simple Plan (1998)

Perusing the woods at the edge of their hometown, Hank (Bill Paxton), his brother Jacob (Billy Bob Thornton), and their friend Lou (Brent Briscoe) discover a literal treasure trove. Well, what they actually find is a downed plane, a dead pilot, and millions of dollars. Agreeing to split the cold hard cash, the three working-class men enter into an unofficial blood oath that quickly devolves into an embittered and complex feud that pits a fortune against the men that unearthed it. Featuring rich performances from the main ensemble and tactful filmmaking from director Sam Raimi, A Simple Plan may not see as much glory as some of the other gems on this list, but trust us: It’s worth its weight in gold.

Rotten Tomatoes: 98%
Stars: Bill Paxton, Billy Bob Thornton, Bridget Fonda
Director: Sam Raimi
Rating: R
Runtime: 121 minutes

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Shooter (2007)

From Training Day helmer Antoine Fuqua, Shooter stars Mark Wahlberg as Bob Lee Swagger, a former Marine sniper living a life of self-imposed seclusion after a tragic military mission. When U.S. intelligence uncovers a plot to assassinate the president, Swagger is called back into action by top government officials. But, unbeknownst to Swagger, there’s a deeper plot at play that involves a price on his own head. It’s up to the high-ranking assassin to turn the tables on his enemies before time runs out. Combining nail-biting action, humor, and enough paranoia to tide the whole house over, Shooter delivers on all grounds.

Rotten Tomatoes: 47%
Stars: Mark Wahlberg, Michael Peña, Danny Glover
Director: Antoine Fuqua
Rating: R
Runtime: 124 minutes

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The Sum of All Fears

The Sum of All Fears (2002)

Based on Tom Clancy’s 1991 novel of the same name, The Sum of All Fears features Ben Affleck as the renowned Jack Ryan in an espionage thriller like no other. Our story takes place in 2002. When the Russian president (Ciarán Hinds) drops dead, tensions run high the world over. Jack Ryan, a top-tier CIA analyst, is sent by CIA Director Bill Cabot (Morgan Freeman) to investigate the political upheaval in Russia just as a nuclear weapon detonates on American soil. It’s up to Jack to uncover the culprits behind the attack before the world descends into utter chaos. An explosive action thriller led by a committed Ben Affleck performance, The Sum of All Fears is a worthy weekend watch, for sure.

Rotten Tomatoes: 60%
Stars: Morgan Freeman, Ben Affleck, James Cromwell
Director: Phil Alden Robinson
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 124 minutes

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Blow the Man Down

Blow the Man Down (2020)

From writer-director duo Bridget Savage Cole and Danielle Krudy, Blow the Man Down is a bleak seaside thriller with black comedy undertones. Siblings Priscilla (Sophie Lowe) and Mary Beth Connolly (Morgan Saylor) aren’t on the greatest of terms after their mother’s funeral. Further complicating their sisterly struggle is a murder they must commit (in self-defense). Disposing of the body, the sisters are far from out of the woods when local law enforcement begins a search for the very man the duo pitched in the ocean. Add to that another body washing up on the shore, and Blow the Man Down sheds a layer to reveal a deeper underbelly of feminist power-playing and malicious intent. A film that builds an immersive tone and atmosphere from the get-go, Blow the Man Down is a whodunit that keeps you drawn in for its 90-minute runtime.

Rotten Tomatoes: 98%
Stars: Sophie Lowe, Morgan Saylor, Margo Martindale
Director: Bridget Savage Cole, Danielle Krudy
Rating: R
Runtime: 91 minutes

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High Life

High Life (2019)

Criminals on death row are dealt a vicious cosmic fate in writer-director Claire Denis’ High Life. The movie stars Robert Pattinson as Monte, a man serving a life sentence for a murder he committed years before. Monte and several other convicts are placed aboard a spacecraft by the cold-hearted Dr. Dibs (Juliette Binoche), a scientist with aspirations of gathering alternative energy from the ship’s destination, a black hole. As the vessel travels further through the galaxy, tensions run high for the shipmates. As wretched acts of backstabbing lead to bodies piling, Monte and an infant become the only survivors of the oblivion-bound spacecraft. Visually mesmerizing and powered by strong performances, notably from Pattinson, High Life aims high and hits hard. It’s another great entry in the canon of the French auteur Denis and a searing addition to our roundup.

Rotten Tomatoes: 82%
Stars: Robert Pattinson, Juliette Binoche, André Benjamin
Director: Claire Denis
Rating: R
Runtime: 110 minutes

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The Village

The Village (2004)

Evil lurks in the woods in writer-director M. Night Shyamalan’s foreboding follow-up to 2002’s Signs. When a 19th-century community is terrorized by creatures in the forest known only as “Those We Don’t Speak Of,” Lucius (Joaquin Phoenix), one member of the settlement, is denied permission by the village elders to collect medical supplies from a neighboring hamlet. Going against their word, he journeys into the woods, which puts into motion a series of disturbing events. While fans are torn by the (in)famous twist ending, it’s a worthy thriller for this month’s roundup.

Rotten Tomatoes: 43%
Stars: Bryce Dallas Howard, Joaquin Phoenix, Adrien Brody
Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 108 minutes

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Unsane (2018)

Sawyer Valentini (The Crown‘s Claire Foy) is still reeling from the trauma she experienced in her hometown. The victim of a male stalker, the twenty-something moves away and nabs her dream job at a bank. Psychologically triggered by men in general, Sawyer makes an appointment with a local therapist. What she doesn’t realize is that she’s unknowingly signed a consent form to be locked up for 24 hours in a behavioral facility. As she’s committed to the ward, Sawyer’s doctors and nurses question her sanity, which leads to an extension of her 24-hour sentencing. On top of all this, Sawyer starts to believe that her stalker is among the staff. A smart nail-biter you don’t want to miss, keep the lights on for Unsane.

Rotten Tomatoes: 80%
Stars: Claire Foy, Joshua Leonard, Juno Temple
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 98 minutes

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Leave No Trace

Leave No Trace (2018)

Tom (Thomasin McKenzie) and Will (Ben Foster) live a tranquil but off-the-radar existence in the deep woodlands of the Pacific Northwest. Surviving off nature’s bounty and camping by fireplaces, the duo lead a quiet existence until they’re discovered by park authorities. Forcefully relocated from their forest-dwelling, the father-daughter team faces a cold world of displacement, systematic rigor, and no home to truly call their own. Debra Granik’s film is a heartfelt drama as much as it is a slow and subtle thriller, one where each minor misstep opens a bigger and deeper pit for its characters to crawl out of.

Rotten Tomatoes: 100%
Stars: Ben Foster, Thomasin McKenzie, Dale Dickey
Director: Debra Granik
Rating: PG
Runtime: 108 minutes

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Climax (2019)

Mostly comprised of a cast with no formal acting experience, Gasper Noé’s Climax is a hallucinogenic thrill-ride like no other that follows members of an up-and-coming dance troupe who get together at an abandoned school to practice their latest routine. After the rehearsal, all share in the same refreshment — sangria that just happens to be spiked with LSD. What follows is a brutally unhinged Pandora’s box of nightmarish images, violent personality clashes, and one or two demises too many. Those familiar with Noé’s catalog will feel more than at home with his latest bizarre entry to his canon.

Rotten Tomatoes: 68%
Stars: Sofia Boutella, Souheila Yacoub, Kiddy Smile
Director: Gasper Noé
Rating: R
Runtime: 95 minutes

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Won Bin in The Man From Nowhere

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
Rating: R
Runtime: 119 minutes

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The Report on Amazon Prime

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
Rating: R
Runtime: 119 minutes

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To Catch a Thief

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
Rating: PG
Runtime: 106 minutes

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The Handmaiden

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
Rating: NR
Runtime: 145 minutes

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Knives Out

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
Rating: PG
Runtime: 130 minutes

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Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol

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
Rating: 14A
Runtime: 133 minutes

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Safe (2012)

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 plenty 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
Rating: 14A
Runtime: 95 minutes

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We Need To Talk About Kevin

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
Rating: R
Runtime: 112 minutes

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You Were Never Really Here (2017)

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
Rating: 14A
Runtime: 89 minutes

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