Survival movies leave you on the edge of your seat, anticipation building as you cheer the main character to overcome the threat and save the day.
These movies can consist of any plotline, but they all have a common theme – the main character is in a fight for his life. Common threats include war, terrorism, a cataclysmic natural disaster, and the end of the world.
We’re going to talk about the ten best survival movies on Netflix. Each of these films earned their well-deserved spot by giving us a ride of a lifetime.
10 Best Survival Movies on Netflix
1. Extraction (2020)
First on our list is Extraction starring famous superstar Chris Helmsworth. This movie falls under the category of Action/Thriller.
I stayed on the edge of my seat as mercenary Tyler Rake (Helmsworth), and his team embarked on a mission to save the son of an Indian drug lord. Things go sideways when the drug lord’s henchmen back out of paying the retrieval fee.
The team has to survive against crooked cops as they try to get the teenager to the extraction point. They rush through a foreign city that has been locked down while everyone is on the hunt for them. Things get worse as the team members start dying.
Soon, there’s only Helmsworth and his charge left against the entire country of Bangladesh. Even friends have turned to foe in a shocking twist. This isn’t a happily ever after movie where the hero comes out victorious. Or is it? The ending leaves you confused, shocked, and excited all at once.
2. Den of Thieves
Den of Thieves is another edge of your seat action-packed flick starring Gerard Butler, O’Shea Jackson Jr., and Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson. Butler plays “Nick O’Brien,” a sheriff’s deputy with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
Jackson Jr. and 50 Cent Jackson play former MARSOC Marine veterans turned bank robbers and costar Pablo Schreiber, the gang’s leader. The group hatches a plan to rob the Los Angeles Federal Reserve after having success with previous robberies.
Gerald Butler learns of the team’s heisting plans and sets a trap to catch the bad guys. Only the gang is one step ahead, fully aware that Butler is onto them.
An exciting game of cat and mouse ensues as Butler tries to catch up with the gang’s nefarious plan. You’re sure to be thrilled as good tries to trump evil as everyone fights for their survival.
3. Deep Impact (1998)
Deep Impact is an end of the world drama with an A-list celebrity cast, including Elijah Woods, Morgan Freeman, Robert Duvall, and Vanessa Redgrave. A massive comet is hurtling towards Earth, causing the end of the Earth. The citizens of the world are looking at an extinction equal to what wiped out the dinosaurs.
But humankind never goes down without a fight. The plan becomes to save random people chosen from a lottery, so there can be life after the comet hits. Among the chosen is young Elijah Woods, one of the comet’s discoverers.
Only he misses his chance to be taken to the safety zone, so he’s stuck traveling with his young companion across a country tossed into mayhem to reach his destination.
Meanwhile, there’s a rescue team in outer space trying to save the planet by blowing up the massive rock with nuclear bombs. Things don’t go as planned, and instead of being destroyed, the rock breaks in half.
Things look bleak for the continuation of life, but all hope is not lost. Only one part of the comet hits Earth. The other half is heroically demolished by a suicide mission from the remaining astronauts.
The damage from the falling rock isn’t as damaging as predicted, and many people survive, including President Morgan Freeman. The world celebrates the lives lost and the lives saved as they work to rebuild.
4. The Pianist
The Pianist, starring Adrien Brody, is based on a same-titled autobiographical book about Holocaust survivor Wladyslaw Szpilman.
This movie follows the harrowing true story of Szpilman as he struggles to survive being a Polish-Jewish in the middle of Nazi-controlled Warsaw, Poland. The film spans from 1939 to 1946. It follows Szpilman as he gets separated from his family and joins a resistance to fight back against being imprisoned.
He eventually escapes and goes into hiding and isolation for years, trying to avoid recapture. While running, he receives aid from a German soldier throughout his journey. And when things finally start becoming normal again, Szpilman attempts to help the soldier, who was captured by the Soviets.
Anyone interested in real-life accounts of history would love this sad yet moving movie.
If you like watching the end of the Earth movies, you’ll enjoy the predicted account of what everyone thought was going to happen in 2012, the year the world was supposed to end, as predicted by a Mayan calendar.
Given that you’re reading this here in 2020, it’s pretty obvious this movie was just fiction. But that’s a good thing because things get pretty intense after a series of severe natural disasters start to destroy the planet.
This movie has an all-star cast, including Danny Glover, Oliver Platt, Amanda Peet, John Cusack, and Woody Harrelson. These characters battle the end-of-the-world in their separate journeys to survive by reaching the arks – giant ships that can each hold 100,000 people to repopulate the Earth after the world has ended.
6. Triple Frontier
Triple Frontier, starring Ben Affleck, Charlie Hunnam, and Oscar Isaac, is about a group of ex-military turned civilian group of guys who plan to rob a Columbian drug lord, under the guise of working with the government.
The plan starts with the idea of not causing anyone to get hurt. But things turn deadly when the team gets caught in the act due to one team member’s greed. Things get worse when they run into guards, but they narrowly escape capture.
Loaded with too much money, the team has to make a choice. Leave the cash behind or die trying to keep it. A sudden change in conscience makes the men escape with a little money rather than continuing to fight. They’ve already lost one member; they don’t want to lose anyone else.
Viewers will be taken along for the action-packed ride, feeling intense emotions as the team fights for survival. Have some tissues handy if you’re a cryer because this movie just might bring you to tears.
7. Battle: Los Angeles
Nothing says the end of the world like an alien invasion. In Battle: Los Angeles, Aaron Eckhart plays a U.S. Marine who leads a military team during a global alien attack. Costars in this movie include Michelle Rodriguez, Bridget Moynahan, and Ne-Yo.
A battle ensues in modern-day Los Angeles, which has been evacuated as the aliens begin their invasion. The mismatched group of military personnel rescues a group of civilians, losing members in the fight.
You’ll be cheering and crying as the group fights to save the world from the dangerous and deadly alien visitors. And when they emerge victoriously, you’re sure to jump from your seat in celebration.
8. Sniper: Special Ops
In Sniper: Special Ops, Steven Stegal plays Sergeant Jake Chandler, who is hired alongside Tim Abell, who plays Sergeant Vic Mosby. The two are recruited to join a Delta Force team to rescue a Congressman that has been taken hostage by the Taliban.
Seagal and his team are successful until a firefight separates the group. Seagal is left on his own to help a fallen comrade. The rest of the team defies orders to go on a rescue mission to retrieve the soldiers left behind.
Seagal is a beloved actor who plays his role perfectly as a loyal sniper willing to risk his life to protect another soldier. Viewers are treated to an action-packed war movie that’s going to keep you glued to the screen.
9. USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage
In USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage, Nicolas Cage plays Captain McVay, aboard the USS Indianapolis heavy cruiser ship. While patrolling the Philippine Sea, the ship gets attacked and sunk by the Imperial Japanese Navy at the end of World War II.
Over 300 men sink to the bottom of the ocean, while the remaining crew members, including Cage, have to survive shark-infested waters without food or water for five days. Once rescued, Cage is hung out to dry by the US Navy, who need someone to blame for the attack. After years of torment, the Captain takes his own life, giving the movie a sad ending.
This movie is based on a true story and concludes with a scene showing former President Bill Clinton forgiving Captain McVay of all charges in 2000. This heartbreaking movie is sure to hit home for anyone who loves military films and World War II.
10. The Core
Our final survival movie is another end of the Earth flick that shows what would happen if the Earth’s core ever stopped moving.
In The Core, you get to see what Earth would look like on the inside as you go along with a team made up of scientists, pilots, and demolition experts, including celebrities like Hilary Swank, Delroy Lindo, DJ Qualls, and Aaron Eckhart.
This heroic team is on a mission to restart the molten core, which has stopped functioning. Although theoretically impossible, this movie makes a great break from reality as you cheer the team to victory. And possibly shed a few tears along the way as cast members die off.
Survival movies provide some of the most intense couple of hours you can ask for. We hope you enjoy each of these movies, as we tried to include something that would appeal to everyone by providing historical and totally fictitious films in our list. Grab your popcorn and a box of candy and start streaming. You can thank us later.
Fifteen Best Survival Movies of All Time