Top 7 Crime Thriller Movies to Watch on Netflix

Watching crime thrillers is a great way to pass the time…and to feed your adrenaline-fueled curiosity. Netflix streams all kinds of movies, but they really have a good stock of crime thrillers to choose from. We have seven crime thrillers that are definitely worth a watch (or two)!

There are few things more exciting than curling up and watching a tense, chilling thriller with countless twists and turns. If you are looking for more suspenseful movies to watch, then there is no better place than Netflix to get your fix.

The streaming giant has a lot of movies that will give you the thrills you seek. From crime thrillers, to mystery thrillers, and even horror crime thrillers, Netflix has them all. We have a list of the top seven crime thriller movies to watch on Netflix that will definitely blow you away. 

1. Pulp Fiction

Release Year: 1994

Director: Quentin Tarantino

Cast: John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Uma Thurman, Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth, Ving Rhames, Eric Stoltz, Rosanna Arquette, Bruce Willis, Christopher Walken

This is the movie that let a new Hollywood talent like director Quentin Tarantino shine, and thrust Travolta back into the spotlight.

Even after nearly 25 years, this crime thriller still stands up to reputation. The film chronicles the stories of criminals in Los Angeles, California, and takes a serious, yet at times humorous, look at the city’s seedy underbelly.

The film’s title alludes to inexpensive pulp magazines and hard-boiled crime novels that contained graphic violence and punchy dialogue, and were very popular during the 1950s and 1960s. It has several sub-plots that all run concurrently, but not chronologically, and connect at the end.

The main plotline follows two hitmen, Jules Winnfield (Jackson) and Vincent Vega (Travolta), as they do their assigned tasks for their boss, gangster Marsellus Wallace (Rhames).

Pulp Fiction

Photo: PulpFiction/

Pulp Fiction was a little-known movie to start that went on to become a commercial and critical success. It was the first movie that Miramax (of Harvey Weinstein fame) fully financed. And it had a huge effect on independent cinema.

2. Zodiac

Release Year: 2007

Director: David Fincher

Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo, Robert Downey Jr., Anthony Edwards, Brian Cox, Elias Koteas, Dermot Mulroney, Donal Logue, John Carroll Lynch

Zodiac details the true story of the manhunt for a serial killer who called himself the “Zodiac.” He murdered people in and around the San Francisco Bay Area during the late 1960s and early 1970s.

The Zodiac Killer taunted police by sending letters, blood-stained clothing, and ciphers to newspapers. The case was never solved, and the killer was never caught.

The film gives an in-depth look at how the case was investigated, primarily by policemen SFPD Inspector David Toschi (Ruffalo), SFPD Inspector William Armstrong (Edwards), San Francisco Chronicle cartoonist Robert Graysmith (Gyllenhaal), who wrote the book the movie is based on, and San Francisco Chronicle journalist Paul Avery (Downey Jr.), who covered the Zodiac case at the time.


Photo: Wikimedia

Detectives question a number of suspects, including Arthur Leigh Allen (Carroll Lynch), the prime suspect in the case. The film primarily follows Graysmith’s investigation, as he risks losing everything in his hope to decipher the Zodiac’s codes and bring the killer to justice.

Filmmakers spent 18 months doing their own investigation and research into the murders attributed to the Zodiac. The result was a movie that turned out to be praised for its writing, directing, acting, and historical authenticity.

3. Memento

Release Year: 2000

Director: Christopher Nolan

Cast: Guy Pearce, Carrie-Anne Moss, Joe Pantoliano

Memento was passed over for distribution by several big studios, who later must have kicked themselves for their mistake.

At the time, they deemed it too confusing and believed that it would not attract large audiences.

Upon release, the film easily had audiences and critics marveling over its innovative and original screenplay, plot, and acting.

Memento was also an early wake-up call for Hollywood to note that Christopher Nolan was definitely one of the most talented directors of his generation.

Pearce plays Leonard Shelby, who suffers from anterograde amnesia (the inability to form new memories) after he is attacked by two men. He also suffers from short-term memory loss about every five minutes.

He manages to remember what happened using a complicated system of Polaroid pictures and tattoos to trace his steps. Leonard believes that his wife Natalie (Moss) was raped and strangled by two men he does not know. He works to not only remember exactly what happened, but also to take action for what he remembers. 


Photo: MementoOfficial/

Memento is based on a story pitched by Jonathan Nolan to his brother when they were on a cross-country road trip from Chicago to Los Angeles in July 1996. Jonathan later wrote a short story called “Memento Mori,” while Christopher worked on Memento

4. A Hijacking

Release Year: 2012

Director: Tobias Lindholm

Cast: Soren Malling, Pilou Asbaek, Dar Salim, Rolland Moller, Gary Skjoldmose, Abdihakin Asgar, Keith Pearson, Amalie Ihle Alstrup

A Hijacking is a Danish thriller written and directed by Tobias Lindholm about the hijacking of a ship in the Indian Ocean.

The film was conceived by Lindholm who wanted to write and direct a movie about a ship that meets trouble at sea. When he read that commercial Danish ships were being hijacked by pirates in the Indian Ocean, he was inspired.

The plot follows Mikkel Hartmann (Asbaek), a cook aboard Danish merchant ship Rozen, who can’t wait to get back to his wife and children in Denmark. Jan Sorensen (Moller), the ship’s engineer, asks Hartmann to take a letter back home to give to his family.

Suddenly, Somali pirates appear and hijack the Rozen, making the ship’s staff work at gunpoint. They then demand money for releasing the crew and the ship.

The shipping company’s CEO, Peter Ludvigsen (Soren Malling), has to negotiate with the pirates, and make a deal that will allow the crew and ship to safely return to Denmark. Thus begins a nerve-wracking interaction. The film’s claustrophobic ambiance only adds to the tension. 

The film was well received by international audiences, and praised by critics. It premiered at the 69th Venice International Film Festival, and went on to win several awards at others. A Hijacking brought to life an experience that, so far, was just a news item for most, and gave an accurate view of the dangers at high sea.

5. Mystic River

Release Year: 2003

Director: Clint Eastwood

Cast: Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, Kevin Bacon, Laurence Fishburne, Marcia Gay Harden, Laura Linney

There have been very few movies in Hollywood that address the burning issue of sexual abuse. Fewer still have focused on the devastating long-term effects of its victims. Accomplishing both of these, at its heart an American tragedy and a riveting murder mystery, Mystic River doesn’t make for easy viewing.

The film starts with three young boys playing in their neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts in 1975. Two men pretending to be police officers show up. They tell one of the boys, Dave Boyle (Bowen) to get into their car, and drive away leaving the other two boys behind.

The men keep Dave captive and sexually abuse him for four days, after which he escapes.

Twenty-five years later, the three boys—Jimmy Markum (Penn), Dave Boyle (Robbins), and Sean Devine (Bacon)—are grown-up. They have drifted apart, but still live in Boston.

Dave carries the horrors of his childhood abuse. Jimmy is an ex-con who runs a neighborhood store. Sean is now a detective.

Their paths soon cross, leading to unexpected results.

Mystic River

Photo: @MysticRiverMovie

The film, based on the novel Mystic River by Dennis Lehane, was nominated for several Academy Awards. It took home the Oscar for Best Actor (Penn), and Best Supporting Actor (Robbins).

It’s a harrowing film that shows that the horrors of abuse remain with the victim, long after they occur. With Clint Eastwood at the helm directing, the film is a tough but important watch.

6. Training Day

Release Year: 2001

Director: Antoine Fuqua

Cast: Denzel Washington, Ethan Hawke, Eva Mendes, Scott Glenn, Cliff Curtis, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg

Training Day chronicles a 24-hour period in the lives of two LAPD narcotics officers, as they operate in the gang-ridden neighborhoods of the LAPD Rampart Division and South Central Los Angeles.

It gives a deep look at the unholy nexus between drug dealers and corrupt LAPD narcotics officers, and the way they make big money with drug deals.

The film opens with Officer Jake Hoyt (Hawke) of the LAPD being assigned for a professional evaluation by veteran and highly decorated Detective Alonzo Harris (Washington).

Harris is known as a corrupt cop who, along with several others, accepts bribes. Hoyt is an idealistic young cop who believes he can clear the city of crime, eager to make a positive difference.

However, the more time he spends with Alonzo, the more he realizes that his partner is a dirty cop.

The movie takes a deeper look at the deadly drug trade, where nobody is to be trusted, and even cops are bad guys. 

Training Day

Photo: @trainingday/

Washington won the Academy Award for Best Actor in this film, while Hawke was nominated for Best Supporting Actor.

The film was shot in some of the most dangerous neighborhoods of Los Angeles. And it used several real-life gang members. The strange thing was that the cast and crew of Training Day received a warm welcome from them, and were allowed to work in locations where even real police officers are careful to tread.

7. No Country for Old Men

Release Year: 2007

Directors: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen

Cast: Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin, Woody Harrelson, Kelly Macdonald

No Country for Old Men is about the violent and dangerous cat-and-mouse games that bad guys and good guys play. The Coen brothers revisit old themes of destiny, fate, conscience, and circumstance in a relentlessly unforgiving film. There is simply no letup from the blood and violence, which can make it a tough watch for some.

The film is set in 1980s Texas, when professional hitman Anton Chigurh (Bardem) is on the run from the law. He takes a job to recover drug money that went missing.

Hunter Llewelyn Moss (Brolin) finds $2.0 million in a briefcase at a site where a drug deal has obviously gone wrong. He takes the money and makes plans to escape with it, along with his wife Carla Jean Moss (Macdonald).

Meanwhile, Sheriff Tom Bell (Jones) gets involved while investigating a related crime, and tries to find the couple.

What follows is a violent saga of how far people will go to make money, and how little regard they can have for human life. 

No Country for Old Men

Photo: @NoCountryForOldMenMovie/

The movie, based on a book of the same name by Cormac McCarthy, is considered by many to be the Coen brothers’ best film. It swept the 80th Academy Awards, winning Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor (Bardem), and Best Adapted Screenplay. Using minimal sound, and long sequences without any dialogue, the Coen brothers created an atmospheric thriller where bad guys win in the end.