Saturday, 19 March 2011

More Movies - Favourite Suspense/ Thrillers

This was a hard category to pick for; what exactly is a suspense/ thriller movie? I looked through various lists, such as AFI, BFI and others and they all seem to vary. I decided for my purposes, that I'd try to limit my picks to mysteries and spy-type adventures. So with that, and probably even stretching that definition a bit, here go my top ten favourites.


In the main, the movies I've picked are movies I've watched many times and in each case have enjoyed the movie as much as the first time. However, my first pick is one I've only seen once. Basically, that's because it's the newest movie on the list. However, having enjoyed it so much, I'm sure both Jo and I will watch it many more times as it becomes more available.
Inception could possibly fall under the Sci Fi category because it is a very futuristic movie. But, there is so much more to the movie, the intricate plot that the characters, lead by Leonardo DiCaprio, must follow to succeed in completing the perfect heist, that it makes a wonderful 'buddy' crime/ suspense film.
The movie was directed by Christopher Nolan, who also gave us such great movies as Memento, The Prestige and the Dark Knight movies. It stars Leonardo DiCaprio (who I don't normally care for), the wonderful Ellen Page and Joseph Gordon-Levitt to name just a few of the excellent cast.
The movie has fantastic special effects, the plot is intricate and detailed and leaves you on the end of your seat and ultimately, it is a satisfying, thrill ride through the mind.


Brian de Palma brought us The Untouchables in 1987. It's a movie that both the wife and I have seen in part or completely 10 or 12 times. It never stops being entertaining. Starring Kevin Costner as the noted Federal Agent, Elliot Ness, the movie revolves around his efforts to bring notorious crime lord Al Capone, played suitably by Robert de Niro, to justice.
With a hand - picked team of uncorrupted cops, his Untouchables, played with verve and energy by Sean Connery, Andy Garcia and Charles Martin Smith, he has to fight not only a corrupt Chicago police force, but also Capone`s henchmen.
This is a thrilling, exciting movie. Brian de Palma has some iconic moments as he does in most of his movies. Take for example the scene at the train station with the baby in the buggy (I won't say any more in case you haven't seen it). Robert de Niro is his over the top best as Capone and has a few great moments; e.g. a scene with a baseball bat. Kevin Costner is perfectly suited as Elliot Ness, a bit holier than though, but with a steely determination. Sean Connery is at his best as the crusty Irish-American policeman and even the supporting cast of the Untouchables, Andy Garcia and Charles Martin Smith are excellent.
This is a great, fun-filled suspense thriller. You've got to watch it!


Tony Scott has directed and produced some great movies; Top Gun, Man on Fire and The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3 to name a few. In 1998, he teamed up with Will Smith to direct a high tech thriller that is one of my favourites, Enemy of the State.
The basic story involves a murder of a US politician by the head of a super secret government agency, and this murder is accidentally caught on film by a local wild life advocate.
This causes a chain of events that pulls lawyer, Will Smith, into one of the great chase movies you'll ever watch. Tracked by Jon Voigt's team of NSA agents, utilizing every type of high tech gadget known to man, Will Smith must enlist the aid of a disgruntled, ex - CIA operative, Gene Hackman, to bring his life back under control and also bring Voigt to justice.
The movie is high-paced and full of special effects, but Will Smith and his family bring a nice touch of humour to the film to help lighten the tension when necessary. Gene Hackman is also excellent as his companion, bringing his crusty nature and his own brand of gadgets into the fray against the NSA group.
The movie will keep you on the edge of your seats and waiting for the next bit of action that's just around the corner. Enjoy!


This is one of the two movies I have from 1995, both intense suspense thrillers. The movie was directed by David Fincher, who already had and continues to have some excellent action movies to his credit; Alien 3, Panic Room and Zodiac. The movie starred Brad Pitt as a young cop , a rookie to the Force and Morgan Freeman, an older cop who is counting the days to retirement.
Both are assigned to a case that will change their lives. The murders are based on the 7 Deadly Sins and each is filmed in dark, gloomy back drops, adding to the sense of mystery and tension.
As the case develops, the two cops become friends and feed off each other. I won't go into the murders in any detail nor mention who the murderer is. Needless to say, I found parts of the film very surprising and even though I felt that I had a clear picture of the final scenes, they were still surprising and well done.
Both Pitt and Freeman are excellent actors and I think this movie is one of their best pieces of work. Even though a small part, Gwynneth Paltrow is also lovely and adds some innocence to what is a dark, very moody suspense thriller.


This is the first movie in the Bourne series, based on the books by Robert Ludlum. Each movie is great, full of action and well-acted by Matt Damon as Jason Bourne. I actually have some difficulty picking which is my favourite as each is super. I like Joan Allen in both the Supremacy and Ultimatum, but without the success of this first film, the other two might not have been made.
Released in 2002, the Bourne Identity is the story of a man whose wounded body is discovered by fishermen who nurse him back to health. He can remember nothing and begins to try to rebuild his memory based on clues such as the Swiss bank account, the number of which, is implanted in his hip. He soon realizes that he is being hunted and takes off with Marie on a search to find out who he is and why he is being hunted.
Matt Damon is excellent as the spy who is trying to discover his true identity as he races across Europe chased by CIA hit men. He has been in so many great movies, but he truly makes this series excellent with his abilities to portray an action hero that is three dimensional.
There is also a great supporting cast; with Chris Cooper, Brian Cox and Julia Stiles. The story is exciting, the action is non-stop and so well-choreographed and the plot is tense and suspenseful. After this one, you`ll want to see the rest, because they are sooooo goood!


I started reading Jeffrey Deaver`s books at the same time that this movie came out in 1999. I actually bought the book at the book store as I was on my way to the movie and read the first twenty or thirty pages while I waited for the film to start. Neither disappointed me. The Bone Collector is one of Deaver`s Lincoln Rhymes series of suspense novels. Lincoln Rhymes, played with such style by Denzel Washington in the movie, is a quadriplegic ex-homicide detective who still contracts his work to the New York Police Department. Angelina Jolie plays Amelia Sachs, a uniformed cop, who is the first officer on the scene of the crime that will eventually bring her into contact with Rhymes and begin a partnership that follows the two through many more books, but unfortunately, no more movies.
The movie is a tense thriller that follows Washington and Jolie, accompanied on the ride by Ed O`Neill and Queen Latifah, amongst others, through the sewers and crime zones of New York as they try to solve the case of The Bone Collector.
This is forensic science at its most interesting. The movie offers such an intriguing premise of Washington, confined to his bed as he talks Jolie through crime scenes so she can gather the clues and information necessary to solve the murders being perpetrated. The movie is tense and well presented and the acting team do such a great job of maintaining the suspense and displaying a wonderful sympathy. You`ll be glued to your seats watching this one.


The other movie from 1995 that made my Top Ten list is Copycat, a suspense thriller starring two great actresses, Sigourney Weaver and Holly Hunter. Directed by Jon Amiel, it is the story of an agoraphobic psychologist, Weaver, and a seasoned police officer, Hunter, who are drawn together to bring down a serial killer who imitates serial killers from the past.
This is one of the great movies, made even better by the talents of Weaver and Hunter. Weaver plays her character, a slightly drunk criminal psychologist who is terrified to leave her apartment because of events in her past perfectly. She is flirty, sexy and intelligent. Hunter, as the Police detective is all business, smarter than her male counterparts, somewhat stiff necked, but knows what she`s about.
The two make an excellent partnership, sometimes volatile, with nice friction, but ultimately, they are the team that will solve this crime, bring down this cruel murderer. Their lives will be endangered as the work through the evidence and there will enough tension to make you chew through a pillow as you watch.
This is a classic of the genre, one that well deserves to be in my top ten list.


Oddly enough, or maybe fittingly, my final three selections are from Alfred Hitchcock`s great library of suspense movies. There are so many to choose from, but these are my personal favourites. North By Northwest was released in 1959 and stars the classy Cary Grant, star of many Hitchcock films, and the lovely Eva Marie Saint, one of Hitchcock`s, lovely blondes.
In the movie, the basic plot is quite simple. It tells the story of a hapless New York advertising executive (Grant) who is mistaken for a government agent by a group of foreign spies and is pursued across the country while he looks for a way to survive.
Like so many movies that were influenced by Hitchcock`s ideas (see Enemy of the State above for that matter, or Eagle Eye or so many others), this one grabs an innocent and puts him into a situation that will try his wits, risk his life and ultimately, get the bad guys!
Grant is great as always. He is always cool and suave in any situation. He always gets the lady, the lovely Saint. And he finds a way out of any situation. There are so many iconic scenes in this movie; such as the plane attack on the lonely road surrounded by corn fields; the fight on the summit of Mount Washington. And through all this action and this adventure, Grant maintains a cool aplomb and never lets a hair fall out of place. It`s a true suspense thriller and one of my favourites.

2 - THE 39 STEPS

My second Hitchcock selection is a classic from 1935, The 39 Steps, starring Robert Donat. This movie was based on the classic spy thriller by John Buchan and has been remade at least 3 other times, as movies and TV mini series. But, in my mind, no matter how good the others might be, this is the best, the classic.
It tells the story of a man in London who gets involved trying to help a counterespionage agent. When the agent is killed and he stands accused, he must go on the run to both save himself and also stop a spy ring trying to steal top secret information.
Robert Donat is much like Cary Grant in North By Northwest, a man caught up in events, who with panache and flair sets about saving himself and in the process, also saving his country.
Besides being a great cross country chase movie, the plot and mystery add to the suspense. We wonder what the 39 steps might be, who is involved and will Donat be able to solve the mystery at the end.
Even though made in the 1930`s, the movie still seems relevant and the tension still works. Hitchcock has a knack for developing tension and action that will keep you waiting for more. A super movie through and through.


Not only my favourite suspense movie, Rear Window also ranks right up there as one of my top ten favourite movies of all-time. It has everything you could want in a movie. Think about it for a minute. The movie takes place in a bedroom, with a man with his legs in a cast, looking out over his back yard. This never changes, and yet, you will find this one of the most suspenseful movies ever. There is no blood and guts, nobody loses body parts (well, not so you see anyway) and there are no car chases or bombs going off.
James Stewart, another Hitchcock favourite, is a news photographer, who is confined to his room because he broke both his legs. He tries to occupy himself by watching the activities from his rear apartment window and entertaining the lovely Grace Kelly (yum).
One night, as he dozes in his chair, he hears a scream and as he looks out his window, thinks he sees a murder in the facing apartment. This starts a chain of events that will ultimately threaten his life as he tries to persuade Kelly, his wonderful nurse, Stella, played with spunk by Thelma Ritter and the doubting cops, represented by Wendell Corey, that Raymond Burr has murdered his wife.
The movie also displays a wonderful cross section of his neighbours as they go through the daily routines; with Stewart watching with interest. But Hitchcock keeps ratcheting up the tension until the great climax. The acting of Stewart, Kelly and Ritter is great. And so much acting they have to do when the set is so limited; everything relies on the reactions and ability to maintain the suspense. They do this so very well.

I hope you enjoy my choices if you`ve never seen any of them before. I`m sure you have your own favourites as well.


  1. Hi there Bill! I have only seen a couple of these movies, Enemy of the state, Seven and Bourne Identity. I enjoyed Enemy of the state, although I normally don’t care much for Will Smith.. - And I totally agree that it is one of the best chase movies I’ve ever seen! Bourne Identity is the best though!! I have seen all the Bourne movies several times and never get bored! Excellent acting, screenplay, music and well.. Everything is perfect! “Seven”, I didn’t enjoy that much... It was just too horrible and disgusting for the sensitive woman I am...

    The last one on your list, Rear window, intrigued me. I have to get that one! And yes, that Grace Kelly was beautiful! I had to laugh when I read "(yum)" ;D

  2. Hi, Siri! How are you? Seven was very disturbing; you're quite right. I hope you manage to see Rear Window; it's fantastic.

  3. Hi Bill! I haven’t had the time to visit your blog lately, or do much at all actually. I’m doing fine, but still struggling with my back and neck.. We had a beautiful Easter over here in Norway. Sunny weather and summer temperatures! How are the two of you doing? Fine I hope!

  4. I haven't visited many blogs lately either, Siri. I'm sorry to hear your back and neck still are bothering you. Maybe the sun and warmer weather will help. We are doing well here; I've been very busy at work, but it makes the days go quickly. Jo had an old school chum visit for a week and that was very nice. We're still waiting for the weather to warm up a bit more; it's getting springlike but still somewhat cool. It's always nice to hear from you, Siri. Enjoy your summer. :0)


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