Romantic Suspense Films
Romantic suspense as a genre is a difficult one to define. The main differences between romantic suspense and more normalised romance movies can be seen the in the setting and events of the films. Often with a romantic suspense film, the romance between a couple is ‘suspended’ due to more pressing issues relating to the situation of the film, these being of a more action, adventure, or crime slant.
The action genre is a one that branches over into many other, often times surprising genres. After a year and a half spent researching the action genre for my abandoned PH.D, the genre and all its off shoots is one that I still manage to find interesting and entertaining. The romantic suspense genre, while not being widely acknowledged nor defined, is one that nevertheless remains a staple of the film industry.
So armed with this knowledge and my romantically inclined nature, I would like to share my top ten romantic suspense films.
10. This Means War (2012).
A pair of C.I.A. operatives wage an epic battle against one another when they discover they are dating the same woman.Taken from IMDB
Okay so I will admit that This Means War isn’t that great of a movie – however when I was watching it I couldn’t get over how much it exemplifies the romantic suspense genre.
While the story does revolve around a romantic triangle, there is no lack of action nor romance. Think of This Means War as an attempt to capture the essence of Mr and Mrs Smith – one that almost does. This Means War is a great example of the romantic suspense genre but ultimately a forgettable film.
9. True Lies (1994).
A fearless, globe-trotting, terrorist-battling secret agent has his life turned upside down when he discovers his wife might be having an affair with a used car salesman while terrorists smuggle nuclear war heads into the United States.Taken from IMDB
True Lies may feel more like an action film but when Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jamie Lee Curtis interact – their chemistry explodes more than any bomb in the film. Normally in the romantic suspense genre, you would see two people getting together, but in True Lies you see a married couple re-connect and see each other in a new light.
The most iconic scene of the film is arguably the strip tease scene – this scene is why the film makes the list because wow – just wow!
In the colourful future, a cab driver unwittingly becomes the central figure in the search for a legendary cosmic weapon to keep Evil and Mr. Zorg at bay.Taken from IMDB
While this film falls definitely within the sci-fi genre, it is still full of lots of action and romance. The relationship between Korben Dallas and Leeloo develops as they travel through space dodging attacks, bombs, and power hungry orbs of death – I mean whats more action packed than falling in love while saving the universe.
If you have never seen The Fifth Element, you need to do yourself a favour and watch it. It is funny, it looks amazing, and it tells a really universal story about war, peace, love, and life. Not only is it the perfect sci-fi film, but it is a great romantic suspense film.
7. Bound (1996).
Corky, a tough female ex con and her lover Violet concoct a scheme to steal millions of stashed mob money and pin the blame on Violet’s crooked boyfriend Caesar.Taken from IMDB
Not only is Bound a great example of the romantic suspense genre but it is a lesbian romance as well. I absolutely adore Jennifer Tilly and Gina Gershon in this film, the chemistry between the two is amazing to watch and rivals that of any romantic lead pair. ❤
6. The Mummy (2017).
At an archaeological dig in the ancient city of Hamunaptra, an American serving in the French Foreign Legion accidentally awakens a mummy who begins to wreck havoc as he searches for the reincarnation of his long-lost love.Taken from IMDB
The tongue-in-cheek humour and cheesiness of this film has got to be the biggest draw card. This is a film that can watched over and over again without loosing its charm. The sheer awkward and appealing nature of the characters as they fall in love is one that is particularly enjoyable. As far as I am concerned the story flows terrifically with the romance feeling natural and the action being fast paced, featuring just enough scarab beetles and mummy induced mayhem.
Despite it’s less than satisfactory sequels, The Mummy is simply a good time, one could even say ‘a very good time.’
5. Red (2010).
When his peaceful life is threatened by a high-tech assassin, former black-ops Agent Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) reassembles his old team in a last ditch effort to survive and uncover his assailants.Taken from IMDB
Featuring an all-star cast, this film is one that I initially underestimated. Being somewhat familiar with Warren Ellis whose graphic novel the film is very loosely based on, I was not expecting the sweet yet action packed story that Red delivers.
Bruce Willis stars as Frank Moses, a lonely and listless man whose only happiness comes from calling his pension case worker, Sarah Ross (Mary-Louise Parker from Weeds fame). Sarah, equally bored, lonely, and an avid trashy romance reader, also counts Franks calls as the only interesting things in her life. It is once the movie moves past the first act that the action begins to kick in as Franks deals with an assassination attempt and the ensuing dangers.
Without giving away too much of the plot, Franks rescues Sarah from a similar fate and meets up with a few of his old working buddies. The following film is sweet, action packed and features a take-charge, gun-toting, Oscar-winning Helen Mirren.
4. D.E.B.S (2004).
Plaid-skirted schoolgirls are groomed by a secret government agency to become the newest members of the elite national-defense group, D.E.B.S.Taken from IMDB
The basic premise of this film is that secret government agent, Amy falls in love with criminal Lucy Diamond. The film is almost tongue in cheek bad but I found myself falling in love with the campness of not only the romance but the action. Think of D.E.B.S as a low budget before-it’s-time Mr. & Mrs. Smith film that features young women falling in love with each other despite their good/bad dichotomies.
I live in hope that more films like D.E.B.S will be made so that we can not only see more queer relationships on screen but that we can see them occupy a space within the action genre.
3. Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005).
A bored married couple is surprised to learn that they are both assassins hired by competing agencies to kill each other.Taken from IMDB
The plot follows that of a bored married couple, Jane (Angelina Jolie) and John (Brad Pitt) Smith, who eventually come to realise that they are competing assassins. After the pair discover this fact, the race is on as they both try to kill, then save each other; all the while working on their marital problems.
With all the controversy surrounding this film I was prepared to be disappointed, however, I could not have been more wrong. Mr & Mrs. Smith proves to be not only entertaining but filled with emotions as well as flying bullets. The home wrecking chemistry between Pitt and Jolie coupled with the superbly crafted writing is what makes this film.
If you haven’t seen it yet, or if you’re not too much of a fan of romance or action films, go out and see this film as there is more than enough to satisfy the biggest fan of both. I wanted to put this film higher on the list but with my two next choices, I couldn’t.
2. The Saint (1997).
Simon Templar (The Saint), is a thief for hire, whose latest job to steal the secret process for cold fusion puts him at odds with a traitor bent on toppling the Russian government, as well as the woman who holds its secret.Taken from IMDB
Simon Templar (Val Kilmer), a world renown thief who uses the names of Catholic Saints to create false identities, is hired by the Russian Mafia to steal the formula of cold fusion from brilliant scientist Emma Russell (Elizabeth Shue). After loving and leaving her, Simon returns to Russia to hand over the formula only to find that Emma has followed him. The rest of the film is an action packed race through Moscow to try and recover the formula and bring down the head Mafia boss Ivan Tretiak (Rade Serbedzija).
Kilmer’s shifting character, terrible Australian accent, and coldly charismatic Simon keeps you hooked as you watch this ever transitioning character slowly come to appreciate, respect, then fall for Emma. The strength that the ‘weak’ scientist Emma shows after such stressful moments is great, and the almost out-smarting of Simon is one that kept me smiling throughout, albeit it with a shake of the head.
The music, the beautiful city of Moscow, and all the cringe worthy but still heart warming moments are what make this film. If you haven’t seen it, I could not recommend a more action packed, wistful smile inducing film. I am going to be honest with you, if I didn’t have such a huge love of the film in first place, this would have been in the number one spot.
1. Romancing the Stone (1984).
A mousy romance novelist sets off for Colombia to ransom her kidnapped sister, and soon finds herself in the middle of a dangerous adventure hunting for treasure with a mercenary rogue.Taken from IMDB
Romance writer Joan Wilder (Kathleen Turner) travels out of her comfort zone to visit Columbia in order to rescue her ransomed sister, and in amongst the chaos meets would-be treasure hunter Jack T. Colton (Michael Douglas). Hijinks ensue as Joan becomes lost and Jack helps her find her way back to civilisation as well as trying to get his hands on her treasure map.
Romancing the Stone, is not only a romantically charged adventure film but it is also a funny one. Moments from the film, such as the famous landslide scene and the inclusion of Joan Wilder fans, are ones that really flesh out and make this film great. Michael Douglas, who also appears in one of my favourite films Wonder Boys (2000), delivers a wonderful performance as the flippant Jack Colton. The storyline and romance between Joan and Jack is one that I feel encapsulates the romantic suspense film. Not only is there action, but the comparative differences between the romance in Joan’s novels to that of the ‘reality’ of the film is one that make this film a pleasure to watch.
If you haven’t seen this movie you are really missing out on an old-school, romantic suspense gem.
The knowledge of how bad this genre can be is one that keeps me coming back for more. The sheer amount of cringe worthy moments, often inspired by the dialogue and actions between the romantic pairs, is what makes this genre so good and such a guilty pleasure. What more is a romantic suspense film meant to do but provide a fantastical and surreal arena for a couple to fall in love, one that audiences at home can revel in?
In this list, films have seen the wrath of a mummy, a treasure hunt in Columbia, blood filled shoot em’ ups, and heat inspiring chemistry. But through it all, there is the running feel that the romantic suspense genre is one that shouldn’t be taken too seriously – it is often the sheer visual and intrinsic pleasure of the realistically outrageous that make these films so good.
What did you think of the list, are there any obvious films that I have missed? Are there movies that you don’t think deserve to be there? Do you have any suggestions for fun and different selections? Let me know 😊