Uncut Gems is a masterclass in triggering adrenaline response within an audience. The entire movie flows from heated situation to situation as we wait for the tension to finally boil into a conflict that will likely end badly for the main characters. For many, the experience of watching Uncut Gems was totally new, but there are many other movies that create that same kind of adrenaline rushes. While no movie can truly capture the Safdie brothers‘ style, here are nine movies that will definitely get your blood pumping.

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Good Time (2017)

Of course, the closest movies you will find to Uncut Gems are the other works by the Safdie brothers. Good Time is the film that came out directly before Uncut Gems and tells the story of Connie (Robert Pattinson) and Nick (Benny Safdie). Nick attempts to rob a bank when things go wrong. Right from the start of the movie, the characters are forced into a difficult situation; similar to Uncut Gems. The pacing of the movie never lets you catch your breath. Connie continues to do more dangerous things as the cops lurk around every corner, filling every minute of this movie with armchair-clutching suspense.


Nightcrawler (2014)

Nightcrawler tells the story of Lou (Jake Gyllenhaal), a thief looking for a stable job. After witnessing two police officers helping a woman out of a burning car, Lou sees a photojournalist film the event and then sell it to a news station. Lou then decides to try his hand at photojournalism. After gathering successful footage for a local news station, Lou starts to push the ethics of photojournalism by interfering with the crimes. Nightcrawler creates the feeling that you are constantly being watched by someone who wants to record anything bad that happens to you. Nightcrawler questions the methods in which the media obtains footage of tragic events and urges us to consider why consumers view specific crimes more than others.

The Raid: Redemption (2012)

The Raid: Redemption flows from police stealth mission to shootout to hand-to-hand combat all taking a place in an apartment complex. While Uncut Gems and most of the other movies on the list are thrillers, The Raid: Redemption takes on the adrenaline rush that can come from pulling off a crime and puts it into an action movie. Rama, (Iko Uwais) a rookie in a special operations core, joins a twenty-man squad with the intent to arrest crime lord Tama (Ray Sahetapy). Once the raid begins, the action seamlessly transforms as dozens of henchmen appear to kill the special operations squad. The whole film is essentially one continuous action sequence that will keep you on the edge of your seat the entire time. Even though it never slows down, The Raid: Redemption is still able to convey character development through each character’s fighting style, adding heart to this action thriller.

Run Lola Run (1998)

From start to finish, Run Lola Run never slows down. Lola (Franka Potente) has twenty minutes to help her boyfriend Manni (Moritz Bleibtreu) deliver 100,000 deutschmarks or Manni’s boss Ronnie will kill him. The movie takes an experimental approach to creating adrenaline by taking Lola back in time, so she can try saving Manni over and over again. The tempo of Run Lola Run is pushed to the max, and may be the closest a movie has come to recreating what it feels like to run a marathon. Run Lola Run is experimental all the way around blending animation into live action and creates a ride that you will never want to end.

Whiplash (2014)

Right from the start, Whiplash will have your foot tapping and your heart racing. Whiplash tells the story of Andrew, (Miles Teller) a drummer at Shaffer Conservatory (the most prestigious music school in the country), and his attempt to become one of the best drummers in the world. His conductor Terence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons) is an abusive teacher who holds the key to Andrew’s future playing in the school’s studio band. While no characters’ lives are at stake in Whiplash, it is every bit as tense as the other movies on this list. Any small mistakes made while performing could result in Andrew losing out on his chance to play professionally. Perhaps surprisingly, some of the most anxiety-causing scenes are not the judged performances, but the band practices where Terence can do whatever he wants to his students.

Bad Lieutenant (1992)

The Lieutenant (Harvey Keitel) gets involved with a series of bets centered around national league championship series. As The Lieutenant’s bets continue to grow in size, so does the number of times he uses his position as an officer to do illegal things. Bad Lieutenant starts out as a slow burn, building tension through continuous mistakes by The Lieutenant until he finds himself in deep trouble. Where Uncut Gems has your heart racing right from the start of the film, Bad Lieutenant takes its time stirring adrenaline within the audience. Bad Lieutenant explores the paranoia that comes with gambling and drug addiction and how hard it can be to stop once you have started.

Dog Day Afternoon (1975)

War veteran Sonny (Al Pacino) attempts to rob a bank, but things quickly go amiss after he and his partner Sal (John Cazale) are not able to flee the scene before the police arrive. The bank robbery quickly turns into a hostage situation and the majority of the film takes place at the bank. Dog Day Afternoon is surprisingly funny throughout as we watch these characters fail at what could have been a simple bank robbery. The movie quickly divides itself into four different players — the robbers, police, hostages, and a crowd outside. All parties feel like they could snap at any moment, which could result in the deaths of many innocent lives. Based on a true story, Dog Day Afternoon provides a nuanced view into the police force, veterans, and the political climate of the 1970s.

Drive (2011)

Driver (Ryan Gosling) works as a mechanic, stunt driver, and contract getaway car driver. He hopes to forgo his life of crime and become a race car driver, but after he falls in love with his neighbor, Irene (Carey Mulligan), he gets involved in one last job to help her husband Standard (Oscar Isaac) get out of debt. Drive explores the tension a getaway driver feels in the quiet moments before the criminals rush out and need to make their escape. These scenes make minutes feel like hours and are filled with almost as much stress as the car chase sequences that follow it.

Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead (2007)

Andy (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and his brother Hank (Ethan Hawke) are in deep financial trouble. To solve their problems, Andy comes up with the idea to rob their parents’ jewelry store, but of course everything goes terribly wrong. Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead creates a web of different situations where characters must withhold information from others in the room. It is a crime drama combined with a family drama that creates fear in every scene, as you wonder if Andy and Hank’s secrets will be revealed. Scenes that seem mundane, such as picking up a CD from a rental car dealer, will make you sweat as you wait to see if they will let their secrets slip.

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