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Jamie Foxx as Bud and Snoop Dogg as Big John in Day Shift Photo: Andrew Cooper/Netflix

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The 5 best thrillers to watch on Netflix this August

Action, horror, spy adventures — this month on Netflix has everything you might want out of a thriller

Pete Volk (he/they) is Polygon’s curation editor for movies and TV, with a particular love for action and martial arts movies.

Happy August, Polygon readers.

We’re getting close to the end of summer (and summer movies), but that also means we’re getting close to the end of the post-Barbenheimer drought at the box office. But there’s no drought at home, with plenty of fun movies to choose from, all from the comfort of your couch.

Each month, we highlight five great thrillers you can watch right now on Netflix. This month, we have a new Netflix original, a movie recently added to Netflix, a movie relevant to multiple upcoming releases, and some under-the-radar picks to help fill out your queue.

Here are our five selections this month. Enjoy!

Heart of Stone

Gal Gadot (and Gal Dato’s reflection) look very serious, with a cut on her lip, in Heart of Stone. Photo: Robert Viglasky/Netflix

Year: 2023
Run time: 2h 2m
Director: Tom Harper
Cast: Gal Gadot, Jamie Dornan, Alia Bhatt

It’d be understandable if you entered Netflix’s latest action blockbuster with some skepticism. The big-budget offerings Red Notice and The Gray Man were absolute slogs, and star Gal Gadot has been in a rut, with Wonder Woman 1984 and Red Notice both taking away much of the shine from the first Wonder Woman.

But Heart of Stone is actually a pretty fun, globe-trotting spy thriller! It’s Gadot’s best performance since Wonder Woman, as the movie’s premise plays into her strengths. Gadot is Rachel Stone, a highly skilled special agent posing as the quiet tech specialist for an MI6 team. The role allows Gadot to shy away from the banter-heavy scripts she’s been tasked with recently, and leans on her skills as a screen fighter.

It’s the action that really makes Heart of Stone a fun spy thriller. The movie opted for more grounded, reality-based action instead of over-the-top CG spectacle, and it really works. The stunts are big, the explosions are plentiful (and impactful), and it has one of the best car chase scenes of the year.

Ben & Jody

Five individuals standing behind a flat-bed truck in the jungle. Image: Netflix

Year: 2022
Run time: 1h 54m
Director: Angga Dwimas Sasongko
Cast: Chicco Jerikho, Rio Dewanto, Yayan Ruhian

Summer is a great time for hard-hitting action and hanging out with your bros in the great outdoors. Ben & Jody has plenty of both.

One of many stellar recent Indonesian action movies (all of which seem to feature the prolific and reliable Yayan Ruhian), Ben & Jody follows two friends who join forces with oppressed villagers to take down a group of violent loggers seeking to steal their land. It has strong action sequences, but the movie is carried by the relationship between its two titular characters, who will stop at nothing to support each other.

The One

Jet Li and Jason Statham sit in a car together. Li, sitting in the passenger seat, looks at Statham (who has hair), who is in the driver’s seat, in The One. Image: Columbia Pictures/Everett Collection

Year: 2001
Run time: 1h 27m
Director: James Wong
Cast: Jet Li, Jet Li, Jet Li, Jet Li, Jet Li, Carla Gugino, Delroy Lindo, Jason Statham

Hollywood has been infected with Multiversal Madness. Everything Everywhere All at Once won all of the Oscars all at once, Across the Spider-Verse is now out on VOD, and the MCU and DC universe have both dipped their toes in the multiverse water. But few can match the unbridled thrills of the Jet Li action vehicle The One.

In The One, Jet Li plays many different Jets Li. There’s a Canadian Jet Li. A Rastafarian Jet Li. An evil Jet Li. A cop Jet Li. The evil Jet Li is traveling between universes, killing every Jet Li he comes across, because it gives him more power. It’s down to the final good Jet Li to stop him.

If all those reasons weren’t enough, take a closer look at the image above. That’s Jason Statham! With hair! Yes, multiversal movies aren’t the only current relevance for The One; it’s Meg 2 season, too.

Come for Jet Li kicking humans out of the air like soccer balls, stay for the early-2000s nu metal soundtrack.

The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift

Sparks fly as two muscle cars collide while drifting on a narrow road in The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift. Image: Universal/Everett Collection

Year: 2006
Run time: 1h 44m
Director: Justin Lin
Cast: Lucas Black, Sung Kang, Bow Wow

Yes, we are stretching the definition of “thriller” here. But the Fast and Furious series offers many thrills, and for my money, there’s no better entry than Tokyo Drift.

Unfairly maligned because of how different it was to others in the franchise, Tokyo Drift features the best actual racing in the franchise. Director Justin Lin brings the most out of the vibrant colors of the Tokyo nightlife, giving the movie a unique tone in a franchise that has since gotten bigger, but also more rigid in its view of what it can be. Also, the legendary Sonny freaking Chiba is in this one! You can’t get that much better than that.

And a fun fact for you to impress your friends at parties: Contrary to popular belief, Tokyo Drift is not the debut for Sung Kang’s Han Lue character. That actually came all the way back in 2002, in Lin’s masterful coming-of-age movie Better Luck Tomorrow. When Lin was hired for Tokyo Drift, he decided to bring the character back, and the rest was franchise history.

Day Shift

Dave Franco is lectured by Jamie Foxx in Netflix’s Day Shift. Photo: Parrish Lewis/Netflix

Year: 2022
Run time: 1h 53m
Director: J.J. Perry
Cast: Jamie Foxx, Dave Franco, Snoop Dogg

Day Shift is a delightful genre hybrid and a throwback to a bygone era of medium-budget moviemaking. Jamie Foxx plays a vampire hunter on the outs with his union, and he’s looking for a big score… but is paired with an incompetent desk jockey (Dave Franco).

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