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10 Great Time Thriller Movies

With Christoper Nolan’s mind (and time) bending epic, Tenet, still due to hit theatres next month, we thought now would be the perfect time to have a look at some other timey-wimey movies. Below, is a list of ten great time thriller movies.

1. Deja Vu

Time travel thriller Deja Vu (2006)
Distributed by Buena Vista Pictures

Denzel Washington stars in this action film directed by Top Gun‘s Tony Scott. Washington plays an ATF agent who joins a team who can utilise time travel. He travels back in time to prevent a terrorist attack from happening. However, he has also fallen in love with a dead woman and is travelling back in order to save her life.

2. Minority Report

minority report 1
Distributed by 20th Century Fox

Steven Spielberg’s sci-fi action flick is based off a story by Phillip K. Dick. He’s also the guy who wrote the original story for Blade Runner. Minority Report is set in the year 2054 and stars Tom Cruise as a PreCrime detective. With the creation of technology that can predict crime, PreCrime is in charge of preventing the predicted crimes from happening. However, when the tech accuses Cruise of planning to commit a crime, he has to go on the run and clear his name.

3. Edge of Tomorrow

Time travel action thriller Edge of Tomorrow (2014)
Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures

The second Tom Cruise time movie on the list is Edge of Tomorrow. It’s in safe hands with Doug Lima, director of The Bourne Identity. Cruise is forced into battle against an army of aliens who have taken over most of the world. However, he is killed during his first fight, but awakens at the beginning of the same day. Caught in a time loop, Cruise recruits Emily Blunt’s super soldier to help him work out what has happened.

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4. Source Code

sorce code 1
Distributed by Summit Entertainment

Jake Gyllenhaal stars in this sci-fi thriller. He plays a US Army Captain who finds himself on a commuter train. He barely has any time to work out how he got there, before the train explodes. It is revealed that he has been sent into a computed reality and it is his mission to find the bomber of the train before they complete their task.

5. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

harry potter 1
Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures

The Prisoner of Azkaban remains many people’s favourite installment of the Harry Potter film series. It also features the first appearance of the time-turner. Herminone uses the device in order for her and Harry to travel back in time towards the end of the film. Because of this, we are shown many action-packed moments from another side and are treated to reveals that end up making sense the second time around. It’s smart, it’s fun and it’s a good showcase of time travel.


6. Primer

primer 1
Distributed by IFC Films and THINKFilm

Primer is Shane Carruth’s debut feature. It’s also very low budget, shot on only $7,000. It has a rather experimental structure but the basic plot follows two engineers, Aaron and Abe. They work out of their garage and end up accidentally discovering the power of time travel. The film ended up taking home the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival and remains an influential movie with a cult following.

7. Predestination

predestination 1
Distributed by Pinnacle Films and Stage 6 Films

Predestination stars Ethan Hawke as a temporal agent. For his final job, he must pursue the one criminal who has evaded capture for the whole of his career. However, the simplicity of the job is upended by twists of identity and fate. It’s a tough watch and addresses some of the more unwelcome possibilities of time travel, but it’s earned its place on this list.

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8. Doctor Strange

dr strange 1
Distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Although Doctor Strange isn’t the only film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe that features time travel, it is the one that introduces the Time Stone. Benedict Cumberbatch plays the titular character and the film follows his arc from surgeon to sorcerer. However, the villainous Kaecilius is set on taking Strange down. Strange is forced to resort to using the Time Stone and it results in a unique action sequence where everything happens in reverse.

9. The Terminator

The Terminator (1984) features a time traveling cyborg assassin
Distributed by Orion Pictures

James Cameron changed the sci-fi landscape with The Terminator back in 1984. Arnold Schwarzenegger stars as the Terminator, who is sent back in time to kill Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton). Her son will lead a rebellion in the future against the machines, who have taken over the world. Luckily, her son has sent one of his soldiers back in time to protect her. Not only did this make Arnie a movie star, but it began a whole new era of time travel and space movies.

10. The Butterfly Effect

Time travel thriller The Butterfly Effect (2004)
Distributed by New Line Cinema

The Butterfly Effect is the hypothesis that suggests a small difference might lead to huge, unforeseen consequences. With time travel, even the flap of a butterfly’s wings might drastically change the future landscape. The movie follows Ashton Kutcher’s Evan, as he realises he can travel back in time during his physical blackouts. However, he travels back to his younger self. This results in him attempting to rectify mistakes he made when he was young. But of course, the consequences are far from satisfactory.


Tenet is scheduled to hit cinemas on July 17th. Read the synopsis below:

“John David Washington is the new protagonist in Christopher Nolan’s original sci-fi action spectacle Tenet. Armed with only one word – Tenet – and fighting for the survival of the entire world, the Protagonist journeys through a twilight world of international espionage on a mission that will unfold in something beyond real time. Not time travel. Inversion.”


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Written by Oliver Swift

Oliver is a London-based writer who contributes to FandomWire, Animated Times, the Curzon Blog and Ollywood Reviews. His favourite superhero is Hawkeye and his favourite superhero movie is 'The Lego Batman Movie'.