Top 20 Best Thriller Movies Of 2011

Thrillers are the movies that put you on the edge of your seat. They’re about suspense, excitement, mystery, crime, and the psychological. We’re going to take a look at the biggest and best thriller movies of 2011. So get your reading glasses and prepare to discover danger.


Starring: Richard Roxburgh, Ioan Gruffudd, Alice Parkinson, Rhys Wakefield
Director: Alister Grierson
Release Date: 4 February 2011

A team of underwater cave divers on a treacherous expedition to the largest, most beautiful and least accessible cave system are forced deep into the caverns by a tropical storm. There they must fight raging water, deadly terrain and creeping panic as they search for an escape route to the sea. The movie is selling itself on the use of James Cameron’s 3D Fusion Camera System. However, the movie’s inexperienced director hasn’t worked for four years and the cast is made up of fifth choice actors. The trailer makes it look like a fairly dull retread of The Descent, without the monsters. The 3D might be good, but the setting seems a bit too enclosed for it.

Starring: Liam Neeson, Diane Kruger, January Jones, Aidan Quinn, Frank Langella
Director: Jaume Collet-Serra
Release Date: 18 February 2011

An American in Berlin awakens from a coma to discover someone has taken on his identity and that no one, not even his wife, believes him. With the help of a young woman, he sets out to prove who he is. Taken was an unexpected blockbuster-sized hit. That’s why Unknown exists. It’s doing everything it can to copy the look and mood of it – casting, plot, setting, poster, release date. That said, if it’s anywhere near as good as Taken it’ll be a fun paranoid ride.


Starring: Bradley Cooper, Robert De Niro, Abbie Cornish, Anna Friel
Director: Neil Burger (The Illusionist)
Release Date: 18 March 2011

An intellectual slacker and former addict is working for a small publishing house when he finds himself in possession of a top-secret drug that boosts intellect, stamina, intuition, and charisma. In a few hours he can write a book, learn a foreign language or master the stock market. But soon shadowy killers are on his trail, and the side effects are kicking in. It’s based on this novel which is supposedly well paced, but has a few bothersome logic holes. Shia LaBeouf was cast in the lead until he injured his hand, I’m more interested with Bradley Cooper in the role. After The Hangover he should have learned to stay away from drugs.

Starring: Adrien Brody, Caroline Dhavernas, Ryan Robbins, Adrian Holmes and Jacob Blair.
Director: Michael Greenspan
Release Date: TBC Spring 2011

Adrien Brody is waking up in a mysterious forest with no idea how he got there, again (see Predators). Here he’s a man trapped in a car wreck at the bottom of a ravine, his leg is stuck, there’s a body in the back and the crackling radio is reporting ‘an incident’. Like a lot of lower budget thrillers (Phone Booth, Buried) this is pretty much a one man show, in pretty much one location. In these cases the script and performance need to be top notch, Brody can certainly bring it, but can the first-time director and writer? The trailer gives away every major plot twist, so avoid watching it first.

- JULY -

One For The Money
Starring: Katherine Heigl, John Leguizamo, Debbie Reynolds, Daniel Sunjata, Jason O’Mara
Director: Julie Anne Robinson (The Last Song)
Release Date: 8 July 2011

Not a prequel to Two For The Money, this is based on the first of a series of novels that began in ’95 about an newly-divorced woman (Heigl) who lands a job at her cousin’s bail-bond business. Her first assignment puts her on the trail of a wanted local cop from her romantic past, and as the plot twists and turns she’s soon in training to be a full time bounty hunter. There have been 15 novels in this series, and the first spent 75 weeks on the best seller list, but given the track record of female P.I.s at the box office, expect this to be the last movie. Can’t say I’m especially looking forward to seeing Heigl in this role.


Straw Dogs
Release Date: 16 September 2011
Starring: James Marsden, Kate Bosworth, Alexander Skarsgård, James Woods
Director: Rod Lurie

Brutal slow-build thriller about an LA screenwriter (Marsden) who moves with his wife to her hometown in the deep South. Once there, tensions build in their marriage and old conflicts re-emerge with the locals, leading to a deadly confrontation. Peckinpah’s ’71 original was about an American settling in rural England and has one of the great Dustin Hoffman performances, it’s a terrifically dark movie all round. James Marsden is a good actor and with an experienced director of political drama on board, this has half a chance of being 10% as layered as the first version.

Starring: Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Bryan Cranston, Albert Brooks, Ron Perlman
Director: Nicolas Winding Refn
Release Date: 16 September 2011

An adaptation of James Sallis’ novel centered on a Hollywood stunt driver (Ryan Gosling) moonlighting as a getaway driver for thieves. When a bank heist goes wrong, he ends up on the run with a contract on his head and an ex-con’s girlfriend (Mulligan) in his car. The director showed considerable promise with Bronson, shot in a Kubrickian style, and here he has a bigger budget to play with. Add the strong cast into the mix and it could turn into something interesting.

Starring: Taylor Lautner, Sigourney Weaver, Maria Bello, Alfred Molina
Director: John Singleton
Release Date: 23 September 2011

A teenager (Taylor Lautner) discovers his parents aren’t really his when he sees his baby picture on a missing person’s website. Soon the police, government agents and shadowy figures start to pursue him, and his quest for the truth erupts into a full-blown “Bourne”-like man-on-the-run thriller. This is from the director of Four Brothers and 2 Fast 2 Furious, and they’ve built an impressive supporting cast, with Danny Glover, Michael Nyqvist, and Jason Isaacs to add to the names above. Still, will anybody outside of the Twilight fanbase want to see it? Has Taylor Lautner been cast for his acting ability? Abs-olutely not.

Starring: Rhys Ifans, Ed Hogg, Vanessa Redgrave, David Thewlis, Joely Richardson
Director: Roland Emmerich
Release Date: 30 September 2011

A political thriller about the man who ‘actually wrote’ the plays of William Shakespeare – the Earl of Oxford – set against the backdrop of the succession of Queen Elizabeth I, and the Essex Rebellion against her. The movie is a departure for Roland ‘master of disaster’ Emmerich, although he did go period in The Patriot. In the same way that 2012 became something of a watercooler talking point, they’re hoping the Shakespeare conspiracy will generate a lot of column inches/discussion.

Dream House
Starring: Daniel Craig, Rachel Weisz, Naomi Watts
Director: Jim Sheridan
Release Date: 30 September 2011

Psychological thriller about a publisher (Craig) who quits his job to relocate his wife (Weisz) and daughters to a quaint New England town. But they soon discover their perfect home was a murder scene, and everyone believes it was at the hands of the husband who survived. Investigating the tragedy, with the help of a neighbour (Watts), he unravels a disturbing puzzle that reveals his own family to be in danger. Think Amityville-sorta, with less horror, but more plot twists and turns. Jim Sheridan (Brothers, My Left Foot) is a good director, but is untested in this genre. Reshoots were ordered after test screenings were mixed. The cast is terrific and it should be fun to watch Daniel Craig undergo some sort of mental deterioration.


Starring: Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Marion Cotillard, Jude Law, Gwenyth Paltrow
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Release Date: 21 October 2011

Think Swine Flu: The Movie. Action-thriller about a deadly disease and the international team of doctors contracted by the Center for Disease Control to deal with the spread. It’s also about how information spreads virally in the internet age. Contagion is a global story, filming in 10 countries, described as ‘procedural’ yet ‘breakneck tense’. With Steven Soderbergh directing, a script by the writer of The Bourne Ultimatum, and a cast this strong, we’re confident it’ll be more along the lines of 1971′s brainy The Andromeda Strain than Dustin Hoffman’s Outbreak. Also Gwyneth Paltrow’s character is the first to contract the horrible disease, so that’ll be fun to watch.


The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (U.S. Remake)
Starring: Rooney Mara, Daniel Craig, Stellan Skarsgård, Robin Wright, Julian Sands
Director: David Fincher
Release Date: 21 December 2011

Director David Fincher’s on fire after The Social Network and he’s cast the woman who played Zuckerberg’s girlfriend as the lead in this remake of the Swedish phenomenon. It’s based on the first in a series of three novels penned by an author who died before they were published. Dragon Tattoo is a detective story about a disgraced journalist (Daniel Craig) searching for a long-missing woman, assisted by an emo hacker with serious man issues. I didn’t find the Swedish original much better than your average Ashley Judd/Morgan Freeman thriller. I doubt the material would have attracted someone of Fincher’s talent without the huge following it has. P.S. The vital-to-the-mystery family tree in the Swedish original was confusing, hope they sort that out.

- SOMETIME IN 2011 -

Man On A Ledge
Starring: Sam Worthington, Elizabeth Banks, Jamie Bell, Edward Burns, Ed Harris
Director: Asger Leth (first-timer)
Release Date: TBC 2011

An ex-cop and now wanted fugitive (Worthington) stands on the ledge of a high-rise building while a hard-living New York Police Department hostage negotiator (Banks) tries to talk him out of suicide. But perhaps he has an ulterior motive for being there… Expect twists and turns. I’ve read the full plot breakdown and this will be much more enjoyable if you don’t know any more than is written here. You can bet it’ll all be given away in the trailer…

Starring: Sam Riley, Ray Winstone, Jason Statham, Mickey Rourke, Michael Shannon, 50 Cent
Director: Géla Babluani
Release Date: TBC 2011

A naïve young man (Riley) assumes a dead man’s identity and finds himself embroiled in a deadly underground game of chance, where men gamble on the lives of other men. Soon he has a gun to someone’s head, and one to his, in a circle of russian roulette. This is a remake of the Georgian movie, and Sundance winner, 13 Tzameti. There’s a strong cast (apart from 50 Cent) and the trailer hints at a dark and gripping mood. However it’s still waiting for a US release, and the reaction from those who’ve seen it in other countries is very mixed.

Starring: Nicolas Cage, Nicole Kidman,
Director: Joel Schumacher
Release Date: TBC 2011

A husband and wife (Cage & Kidman) are held captive by four gun-wielding perps looking for easy cash. Soon betrayal and deception are discovered – the real motive may lie somewhere in the family’s private life. Director Joel Schumacher’s career has been incredibly varied both genre-wise and in quality. He made one of the greatest thrillers of the 90s, Falling Down, but also made Batman And Robin and the limp ’8mm’, with Cage. Hopefully this isn’t yet another Nicolas Cage tax-payment movie.

Dark Tide
Starring: Halle Berry, Olivier Martinez, Ralph Brown, Luke Tyler
Director: John Stockwell
Release Date: TBC 2011

A marine biologist (Berry) returns to deep waters after a near-fatal encounter with a great white shark. We don’t know any more than that at this point, except co-star Olivier Martinez is now dating Halle Berry and it’s rumoured that’s why he got the part. The director is a pro at shooting beautiful underwater sequences, as shown in 2005′s Into the Blue, so expect it to look great, at the very least.

Starring: Jason Statham, Luke Evans, David Morrissey, Aidan Gillen, Paddy Considine
Director: Elliott Lester
Release Date: TBC 2011

A tough policeman (Statham) is hired to investigate an arrogant serial killer targeting London police officers. This is the first movie to be produced by Lionsgate UK. It was shot in 2009 and is taking a suspiciously long time to reach the big screen. A cocky British fame-hungry serial killer doesn’t sound like a recipe for great cinema. Might work as a guilty pleasure.


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