As the name implies, detective films portray crime solvers as the hero. From hard-boiled detectives to rookies trying to find their place in the squad, it is always entertaining to see how the lead protagonist solves the mystery in the end. What grips audiences even more is a well-written plot, one that is both unpredictable and interesting.
On this list you will find the smartest detective film released so far. They are guaranteed to keep you entertained for hours and will keep you guessing until the credits roll.
5 Detective Films That Will Keep You Hooked
5. Se7en (1995)
Se7en is the neo-noir film that put director David Fincher in the map. The movies received an outstanding amount of success when it was released and ended up being one of the highest-grossing films of 1995. Se7en centers around Det. William Somerset (Morgan Freeman) and his hot-headed partner Det. David Mills (Brad Pitt). The two are forced to solve a series of murders that are modeled from the seven deadly sins. Rounding up the cast is Gwyneth Paltrow, who plays Pitt’s onscreen wife, and Kevin Spacey, who plays the prime suspect.
4. Zodiac (2007)
Another entry by David Fincher on this list is the 2007 mystery-thriller film Zodiac. The film is based on the non-fiction book written by Robert Graysmith. It recounts the true-to-life events surrounding the notorious Zodiac Killer who terrorized Northern California back in the ’60s to early ’70s. The mystery behind the serial killer remains unsolved to this day, but it is interesting to see the cat-and-mouse chase he set up with the investigators play onscreen.
3. Memento (2000)
After a near fatal blow in the head, Leonard Shelby (Guy Pearce) loses his short-term memory, leading him to forget who raped and murdered his wife. All Leonard remembers is what happened before the tragic crime, while the rest remains to be a blur. Memento received largely positive reviews from critics, who praised the story’s non-linear narrative and unique theme. It remains to be one of the most compelling detective films in cinematic history.
2. L.A. Confidential (1997)
L.A. Confidential is often regarded as one of the best detective films of all time. The movie is set in 1950s Los Angeles and stars Kim Basinger and Russell Crowe in career-defining performances. The film explores police corruption as well as celebrity culture in the City of Angels. Critics were quick to praise the movie, and it didn’t take too long for it to be selected for preservation by the National Film Registry.
1. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2009)
There aren’t that many detective films that received as much hype as The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (released as Män som hatar kvinnor in Sweden). This neo-noir film centers around Lisbeth Salander, a brilliant yet broken hacker who swears revenge on the man who sexually assaulted her. The movie may be a little tough to watch, as it has several scenes depicting rape and extreme violence. But it continues to be regarded as one of the most thought-provoking detective films of all time.