Flicks that will get your adrenaline pumping

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When done right, cinema can give you a genuine adrenaline rush. Films made by people who understand how to thrill us are a dime a dozen, but there’s a rare type of movie that feels more like an emotional roller-coaster, propelling us through terrifying what-if scenarios. And the best of the bunch? Films that explore, at high speed, the end of the world as we know it. And with Civil War hitting screens across the nation, we figured it was time to walk you through our faves.


Civil War

The scariest end-of-the-world hypotheticals are the ones that hit close to home, and Alex Garland (Annihilation, Ex Machina) has absolutely floored us with this one. Civil War is set in the near future, in an America split between two warring factions - Texas, and California. Garland made a bold choice: rather than follow soldiers as the heroes, we tag along with a crew of journalists, embedded in the warzone, trying to make sense out of the chaos.

The cast pack a hell of a punch: Kirsten Dunst, Cailee Spaeny, Wagner Moura and Stephen McKinley Henderson play our war journalists, providing an incredibly fresh, and vulnerable, point of view to ferry viewers through this thrilling, harrowing, vital story. Dunst in particular gives a career-best turn as a celebrated photojournalist whose work covering “the antifa massacre” has her being idolised whilst trying to chart some truly gruesome, yet thrilling, events. Nick Offerman, who you probably know best as Ron Swanson from Parks and Recreation, but also from his recent award-winning turn in The Last of Us, does a stunning job playing the U.S. president.

The film is a tonal masterpiece - thrilling music is played during action sequences, but the film deliberately makes you feel guilty for enjoying the “hell yeah” action sequences - what’s happening on screen is, after all, deeply, brutally tragic. It’s a grounded, yet wildly fantastical what-if look at a world gone mad, and it’s already shaping up to be the critical darling of 2024. If you want your adrenaline pumping and your brain whirling at a mile a minute, Civil War is must-see viewing.

28 Days Later

While we’re celebrating Civil War’s Alex Garland and his storytelling chops, it’s worth taking a look at a truly iconic film he wrote: 28 Days Later. Talk about an adrenaline-fuelled end-of-the-world story - 28 Days Later takes place in London, a city now beset by zombies propelled by a “rage virus”, fuelling them with nothing but adrenaline.

The film was a massive success. Partially because Danny Boyle directed it, using crappy digital cameras to give the horror an almost journalistic rawness. Secondly, Cillian Murphy (Oppenheimer himself) was startlingly good as the hero, an injured bicycle courier who wakes up in hospital having missed the beginning of the apocalypse and forced to play a terrifying game of catch-up. But as Civil War proves yet again, Garland is at once politically and morally aware, yet able to couch all of that grimness in a fantastic story with an ever-so-slightly optimistic edge. You’ll be rocketed along on the edge of your seat, loving the ride, but asking big questions afterwards.

London Has Fallen

Speaking of London having had a right rough time of it in films… London Has Fallen. A tonal shift, sure, but an absolutely rock-solid thrill-ride taking a look at the (potential) end of the world as we know it.

It’s also a sequel: in fact, it sits in the middle of a trilogy revolving around three characters. There’s the thinking man’s action hero, Gerard Butler as Secret Service Agent (and ex-Army Ranger) Mike Banning. Grizzled, loveable, weathered, a great dad - and the exact guy you want in your corner when things go as wildly wrong as they do in London Has Fallen. There’s Aaron Eckhart (perhaps best known as Harvey Dent in The Dark Knight), who plays the U.S. President, Benjamin Asher. Then, we have living legend Morgan Freeman as the U.S. Vice President, Allan Trumbull.

London Has Fallen presents a profoundly close-to-home scenario - the British Prime Minister has died under terrible circumstances, and all of the major world leaders are in London to attend the funeral service. A cabal of terrorists use this opportunity to strike, potentially destabilising… well, everything in the process. So, yes: it’s an action film, and a damned fine one. But it’s also a harrowing, nail-biting experience, and a look at how easy it would be to change our world with a single event.

Children of Men

We’ve looked at films that cover various end-of-days scenarios: civil war in America, a rage virus, a terrorist attack. Children of Men asks the question: what if we stopped being able to reproduce? What would happen to us as a society?

First of all, Children of Men is a truly unique look at the end of the world as we know it, helmed by Clive Owen in his greatest ever role, ferrying the first women to get pregnant since everything ground to a halt to safety across a country tearing itself apart at the seams. Julianne Moore, Michael Caine and Chiwetel Ejiofor also lend their considerable talents, and director Alfonso Cuarón keeps up the pace at an almost breakneck speed. Plus, there’s one of the best single-shot sequences in the history of cinema. Unmissable stuff.


Sometimes, the simplest premises are the best ones. Case in point? Moonfall, in which Roland Emmerich (the man behind Independence Day) whips up a thrilling end-of-days adventure in which the moon is sent hurtling towards the Earth. Simple. What makes this recipe for disaster work, however, are the ingredients.

Academy Award winner Halle Berry, and Patrick Wilson (The Conjuring films), take centre stage as Halle Berry as Jocinda Fowler, an ex-NASA astronaut working as deputy director of NASA. She’s an ex-colleague of Brian Harper, former NASA astronaut. And when the moon begins to move towards Earth, certain facts come into play which… Well, we won’t spoil it for you, but Moonfall has a litany of secrets which transform it from your standard end of the world thrillride into something altogether unique.

So there you have it - our foolproof list of films about the end of the world which will thrill you senseless, and make you think.