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Netflix Movie List: Foreign Thrillers on Netflix

Updated on September 22, 2015
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A devotee of entertainment and the arts, the author manages netTVwatch, a blog that follows foreign TV shows on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon.


Are you looking for crime dramas and foreign thrillers to add to your Netflix movie list? It can be difficult to sort through all of the choices for online streaming. These are all good films with strong acting, directing and gripping plots, though you will find the look and feel of each movie to be different than the standard Hollywood fare. These short reviews will help you decide which movies match your interests, though they are all worth watching.

George Clooney
George Clooney | Source

The American - Movie Review

“The American” may not technically meet foreign film criteria, but it has a foreign director, foreign settings, including Sweden and Italy, and a general ambiance that is much more European than American. It stars George Clooney as a contract killer and gunsmith. While there are moments of action and lots of tension, this is not an action-based thriller. It moves at a slow pace with long stretches of little or no dialogue, similar to some Bernardo Bertolucci films. American and spaghetti westerns are also a clear influence.

This may be Clooney’s most restrained performance. “The American” was directed by Anton Corbijn and released in 2010. (More recently, Corbijn directed "A Most Wanted Man," with Philip Seymour Hoffman.) If you enjoy foreign thrillers that rely on more than action to keep you engaged, add “The American” to your Netflix list.

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

The American movie version starring Danial Craig is available for instant streaming on amazon.


Dragon Tattoo Trilogy - Review

Though “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” book series, officially known as the Millennium series, was immensely popular, it is possible that many people are not familiar with the Swedish film versions of the books. While the American film version of “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” starring Daniel Craig, was good, the Swedish version is better and more faithful to the original story and characters. In addition to the first story, Yellow Bird, the Swedish film company, produced versions of the two books that follow, “The Girl Who Played With Fire” and “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest.” All three films star Michael Nyqvist in the role of Mikael Blomkvist and Noomi Rapace as Lisbeth Salander.

Noomi Rapace as Lisbeth Salander
Noomi Rapace as Lisbeth Salander | Source

Unfortunately, it can be a little confusing looking for the films on Netflix streaming. There is a “Dragon Tattoo Trilogy: Extended Edition,” which includes all three films, but divided into six parts. Additional scenes have been added so that each episode is approximately 90 minutes. The Tattoo Trilogy is a nice way to watch the series in reasonably sized chunks of viewing time. Netflix also has the original Swedish release of each of the three films. Though it’s difficult for any film version to match the images created in one’s mind by reading the books, the Swedish films of the Millennium series are gritty and realistic.

Headhunters - Movie Review

The Norwegian film “Headhunters” is centered on Roger Brown, a small man with oversized ambitions. By all appearances, he is a successful executive recruiter, a headhunter, yet he maintains an equally active career as an art thief, often preying upon his own clients. His beautiful and equally successful wife is not aware of Brown’s side line of work. This is a classic caper film that moves along at a fast clip with a few twists and turns along the way. It initially appears that the story will lead up to one big heist, but other issues and storylines come into play and keep us guessing.

“Headhunters” is highly entertaining. Appropriately for this genre, it has a little more glitz and glamour than many European films. Even though subtitled, the dialogue is often clever and witty. The "Headhunters" movie trailer above will give you a good taste of the film, but may tell you more than you want to know.

Directed by Morten Tyldum and released in 2011, the movie is based on a book by Norwegian author Jo Nesbo. It is currently available for streaming on Netflix.


The Silence - Movie Review

This is a beautiful film, though the story is sad and tragic. A young girl goes missing; we see a filtered view of the crime. Twenty-three years later, a similar crime occurs in the same place. In addition to the loss, the families must deal with not knowing the complete story. Initially, we are also not sure who is who during the present era of the story. It takes time for the connections to be revealed. Some characters are more interested in resolution while some want the truth. Ultimately, we get some of both.

“The Silence” is a German film directed by Baran bo Odar. Some viewers may find a similarity to “The Killing” television series. Both stories involve the murder of a girl and, in addition to being police procedurals, advance slowly with an emphasis on the families’ loss and grief. The landscape is featured prominently at various times; the film is artistically shot with rich colors and settings.

Visit my blog for reviews of foreign TV series on Netflix

“The Silence” was released in 2010 and is subtitled. Add it to your Netflix movie list if you enjoy foreign crime thrillers. Though the film is not graphic, it could be disturbing if you have tween or teenaged children and get deeply drawn into movies on an emotional level.

Update: Movies come and go on Netflix as contracts expire and are, or are not, renegotiated. As of 2015, "A Hijacking" is not available on Netflix. It can be found at other locations to buy or view online. If you enjoy tense, foreign thrillers and don't mind subtitles, it is worth seeking out.

A Hijacking [DVD]
A Hijacking [DVD]

Buy the DVD or watch on Amazon instant video


A Hijacking - Film Review

This is a Dutch movie about the hijacking of a cargo ship by Somali pirates. Already, you may be thinking there a similarities with “Captain Phillips,” the U.S. film starring Tom Hanks. While the basic premise of the films may be somewhat the same, the two movies are not related. As with many European films, the characters in “A Hijacking” immediately look and feel very true to life in a non-Hollywood way.

The director, Tobias Lindholm, establishes a level of tension early and maintains it throughout the film. Much of the drama is centered on the negotiations for release of the ship and crew. The CEO of the shipping corporation plays a major role, as does the cook on the boat. Stark contrasts are drawn between the condition of the hostages and those in the corporate office. Ultimately, the film becomes more than a hostage thriller as we begin to question the values and priorities of the corporation.

The movie is partly in English and partly in Dutch with subtitles. There are no subtitles given for the pirate’s dialogue. Like the crew, we cannot understand them, adding to the confusion and uncertainty. “A Hijacking” was released in 2012.

© 2014 chet thomas


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    • Act 3 profile image

      chet thomas 3 years ago from Athens, GA

      Thanks for reading and commenting, Thief12! The Silence is very good. I'd recommend it.

    • Thief12 profile image

      Thief12 3 years ago from Puerto Rico

      I've seen The American and A Hijacking. Both were solid films, although I didn't consider them mind-blowing. The Silence looks interesting.

      Voted Up, Useful, and Interesting.