Don’t you love when a film keeps you guessing till the end? But we all know how hard it is to find a really good thriller film. We have already covered the best thriller movies of all time (read it here) and this decade (read it here). Today, we are going to list down the top thriller movies of 2000s.
16. Identity (2003)
There’s a reason why ‘Identity’ despite being thrashed by critics stands today as one of the cult classics. Yes, it is a flawed film, but in its flaws also lies its beauty. It is a story of ten strangers who find themselves stranded at a desolate Nevada motel during a nasty rain-storm and become acquainted with each other when they realize that they’re being killed off one by one. The film plays not just with the minds of its characters but also its viewers .. till the last scene.
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15. The Machinist (2004)
Best known for Christian Bale’s staggering performance, ‘The Machinist’ is a solid psychological thriller with elements of suspense and horror blended with remarkable brilliance. The film follows an insomniac who begins to experience strange things at work and home. He sees a mysterious man who no one else seems to know of and his mental trouble causes an accident in which his co-worker loses one arm. The film is brilliantly layered and pulls you into its world with its atmospheric power as you begin to work things out before a nerve-racking climax comes to hit you. One of the underrated brain teasing movies.
14. Saw (2004)
The plot of ‘Saw’ seems simple at first as we follow Dr. Lawrence Gordon and Adam, the photographer chained in a claustrophobic bathroom with a dead body lying between them. The mini recorder that would feature in all the sequels tells Gordon to kill Adam and tells Adam to escape the bathroom. Though the sequels received the ‘torture porn’ tag for its violence and depravity, the first film introduces us to the world of mechanical traps and the sheer brutality of what would follow when the two people realize that the chains cannot be cut, instead they need to saw off their feet. Made on a very meagre budget, it was very original for its time and fans of the franchise will still feel a chill down their spine remembering the last scene of the film. The iconic ‘game over’ and Charlie Clouser’s series defining score make it a very satisfying watch for first timers.
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13. Insomnia (2002)
A Christopher Nolan film is a Christopher Nolan film. That means, it promises a lot of great things into an even greater result. This result, you can effortlessly find it in “Insomnia”, a film about murder, guilt and a whole lot of sleep deprivation. Robert DeNiro plays a homicide detective who is sent to a small Alaskan town in order to uncover the murder of a teenage girl. However things go wrong when encountering the suspect in a blind confrontation, in the midst of a thick mass of fog. This town, where the sun never sets, is a strange, strange place where suspense floats through the air and only ceases to exist once the screen goes dark and we sigh of relief.
12. Minority Report (2002)
Perhaps not among Steven Spielberg’s greatest works but ‘Minority Report’ is still a solid piece of enthralling sci-fi. Set in a dystopian future where a technology makes it possible for cops to track down criminals even before they commit their crimes. John Anderton is wrongly accused of such a crime and the film is about his attempt at proving his innocence. Masterfully directed by Spielberg, the film is replete with breathtaking visuals and some awe-inspiring sequences. It’s one hell of a fun ride but also manages to be thought provoking and emotionally engaging.
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11. Gone Baby Gone (2007)
When four-year-old Amanda McCready is kidnapped from her home and the police make little headway in solving the case, the girl’s aunt Beatrice McCready hires two private detectives Patrick Kenzie (Casey Affleck) and Angie Gennaro (Michelle Monaghan). When they are about to solve their case, they are faced with a moral dilemma that could tear them apart. Based on the book by Dennis Lehane, “Gone Baby Gone” marks the directorial debut of Ben Affleck. It’s one of those rare movies in which the less you know about the story, the richer the experience. It has a disturbing and emotional layered story that slowly unfolds with a moral dilemma at its core.
10. The Prestige (2006)
Magic is inspiring, eye-grabbing and entertaining in general, but when rivalry, tension and obsession come into the picture, things become a real intrigue where suspense all of a sudden plays a major role. “The Prestige” is all that in one film, with a talented Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman playing two 19th Century competitive stage magicians that will go all the way to win the audience’s standing ovation. Of course, it contains lots of twists and surprises which means that to get there, a lot of tension and apprehension will be felt. And oh it will be good.
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9. Oldboy (2003)
An average man is kidnapped and imprisoned in a shabby cell for fifteen years without explanation. Oh Dae-Su is then released, only to find out that he must find his captor in five days. ‘Oldboy’ is one of the smartest action thrillers out there. Masterfully directed by Chan-wook Park and with Min-sik Choi playing the main character, this one will surprise you completely. The screenplay is brilliant; the characters are developed very well and are extremely complex, and the plot is not only ingenious, but the twists are a million times better than any other movie. Don’t miss it.
8. Mystic River (2003)
I wasn’t quite convinced by the ending of ‘Mystic River’ when I first saw it. But on repeat viewings I realised that the film wasn’t about Katie’s death. It’s about that traumatic childhood incident that lingers in the minds of the film’s main characters and how it shaped up their lives as adults. The gloomy atmosphere of the film beautifully reflects the the mood of its perennially wounded characters. Eastwood’s direction here is beyond brilliant as he keeps you on the edge while providing intense focus on his characters which makes the film a deeply emotional experience.
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7. Children of Men (2006)
Alfonso Cuaron’s wildly ambitious dystopian thriller takes place in 2027 when humanity is faced with the threat of extinction after failing to reproduce for more than 18 years. A masterclass in direction, the film is famous for its long takes that brilliantly manages to build tension in a way you’ve never experienced before. Some of the sequences are absolutely jaw dropping and the film tackles the technical aspects of the story with remarkable authenticity. Watch out for that nerve-racking car sequence. It’s as brilliantly riveting and emotionally involving as sci-fis can get.
6. Memories of Murder (2003)
‘Memories of Murder’ is a cinematic gem. Not every day you come across a film that is as riveting and captivating as this 2003 South Korean classic. Based on the infamous real life serial killings of women that took place in South Korea between 1986 and 1991, the film focuses on the two detectives’ investigation of the case. The film tightens its grip with every scene making it virtually impossible for us to blink throughout its running time and leaves us in a state of utter shock and despair with a climax that is haunting and emotionally powerful. The film is well remembered for its strong performances and cinematography and has attained a cult following over the years from ardent movie buffs. One of the underrated suspense movies.
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5. The Secret in their Eyes (2009)
An Academy Award that was well-deserved. I finally saw the film after much procrastinating, and boy was it good. There wasn’t n instant in the movie which even remotely threatened to divulge what the film was all about. It’s peep-hole close to being a Kaufman-esque adaptation of the film ‘Adaptation’, but ironically, it is far from it. It is stroy about closure and redemption of a homicidal detective, who revisits a case almost twenty years ago, to find solace and write a novel about it. He also has his eye out for his love interest, an immediate superior, who is fatuous enough not to get the signals. Or is she? Watch to find out.
4. Memento (2000)
A man keeps forgetting his recent memories due to an accident, needs to kill the men responsible for his wife’s death and his current state. The only clues are tattooed on his body. The viewer goes through the same emotion as the protagonist, albeit in a little differently. The sequences in colour tells the story in a forward progressing manner, whereas the black and white sequence depict the past. Wait, did I tell you, the visuals are interspersed? A brilliant Christopher Nolan, a unique way of storytelling and the looming suspense of catching the real killer- That’s Memento!
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3. Cache (2005)
Michael Haneke’s magnum opus is a disturbing reflection of our ignorant, self-absorbed modern society. A society that finds comfort in the cushions of the unknown and the untold. ‘Cache’ is cinema at its purest and most intellectual form. The film is about an upper class French couple who are terrorized by a series of mysterious surveillance tapes that appear on their front porch. They are soon drawn towards some disturbing truths as the husband recollects an incident from his childhood that may have some connection with the mysterious observer of their lives. Haneke challenges his viewers using shots where the action might not be happening at the center, asking us to observe each and every frame closely. Cache is highly rated by critics as one of the greatest films of the 21st century.
2. Zodiac (2007)
In the late sixties to early seventies, there was an almost mythic mass murderer, who kept a count of his killings and sent encrypted letter to the police with a taunt to keep up with him. The police as well as two journalists swung into action. Many suspects were named, in fact one particular suspect was almost zeroed in. Due to inadequate evidence, he could not be incriminated. Such was the phenomena that till date there are several news occurrences of people confessing to be the Zodiac Killer. David Fincher’s ‘Zodiac’ is a masterful storytelling of a thrilling investigative journalism.
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1. Mulholland Drive (2001)
In order to appreciate the finesse of this movie, it requires multiple viewing. Whether it’s a fantasy world or an utopia, ‘Mulholland Drive’ remains open to many interpretations. And the bigger question stays for the audience to decipher in their own way – Who is Diane Selwyn? What happened to Betty? What does the blue box with the blue key open? The answer comes up – “Silencio!”
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