Last week, the streaming giant revealed their most viewed original features. This week, we sort the woeful from the worth watching
Though notoriously tight-lipped on the matter of their viewing figures, Netflix, apropos of nothing, decided last week to reveal which of their original movies had racked up the most views. While the figures are undoubtably impressive (the highest has in excess of 99 million views), the qualification for a single “view” was just two minutes of watch time.
But don't let the big numbers dictate your viewing habits. “Most watched” doesn't necessarily mean “worth watching.” Netflix Originals can span from the downright awful to the truly wonderful – unsurprisingly, the films on this list follows suit. Here, then, to guide you, are the streaming service's 10 most watched originals, ranked from worst to best…
10. The Wrong Missy (59 million views)
“David Spade comedy” are three of the most feared words in the English language. This slight, shambling excuse for a good time confirms exactly why that's the case. The Wrong Missy tells the story of a boring guy – Spade – who accidentally winds up dating a maniac after sending a text to the wrong person, played here by a totally game-for-it Lauren Lapkus, whose wacko traits include “dipping her hair in wine.” Like The Heartbreak Kid with none of the wit, the film – true of most Happy Madison films – is lazily rendered and slapdash in its execution. We must stan Lauren Lapkus, though, because she appears to be genuinely committed to what she must know, deep in her heart, is a poisonous product.
9. Spenser Confidential (85 million views)
It seems unholy that 85 million people have watched this, or part of this: a movie that doesn't even sound convinced by its own title. Spenser Confidential? They just went ahead and called it Spenser Confidential? Mark Wahlberg, actually playing a man named “Spenser,” has made a sizeable career out of giant, knuckle-headed action movies. But this is more in line with the sort of movies that Bruce Willis has been making for the last ten years: an entirely generic caper with an entirely generic hero, that's also apparently a comedy. Where are the laughs? Peter Berg – Deepwater Horizon, Lone Survivor – is better than this. Mark Wahlberg is better than this. Everybody who watched this is better than this.
8. Bird Box (89 millon views)
Bird Box is for eyes what A Quiet Place is for, uh, noise. Except where John Krasinski's clever directorial debut piled on the Hitchcockian suspense to create a heart-stopping family horror about an alien-invested Earth, Susanne Bier's Bird Box fails to realise the potential of its premise, giving us cardboard characters and long stretches of nothing. The film does, at the very least, have Sandra Bullock going for it – believable and committed as a woman trying to shepherd two kids through a nightmarish situation. But Bird Box is a movie that you feel unravelling as you watch it – less engaging, less effective, and less credible with every passing minute. And boy does it drag.
7. 6 Underground (83 million views)
There is almost something about this Michael Bay-made head-exploder of an actioner, which might just be the most “knowing” film of his career. It isn't exactly good, but following the po-faced seriousness of his war film 13 Hours, he renders the stupidly titled 6 Underground as something closer to a Mission: Impossible film. Ryan Reynolds is his usual, smarmy, annoying (?) self – part of a team of mercenaries who are believed dead and so can operate in the shadows. At this point, we expect more than just the occasional wink-wink from our explosions, but nobody seems to have given Michael Bay the memo: he blows up everything with the vigour of a man half his age. Why is this over two hours long?
6. Murder Mystery (73 million views)
We are living in a time where you can just call something Murder Mystery – an era where film titles just state their intentions with a detached, ironic bluntness, as if to say, “We have done it all now, everything that could happen has happened.” Still, Adam Sandler has made far worse comedies than this, which at least contains a few solid laughs and features a funny supporting turn from Jennifer Aniston. It doesn't stick in the memory, but as pointless diversions go it's okay (emphasis on “okay”), not to mention there's some genuinely stunning scenery to admire along the way. Its riffing on the time-old tradition of the murder mystery is never clever, but Sandler is at least not doing a silly voice, and I admit to liking whatever it is Luke Evans is doing here.
5. The Perfect Date (55 million views)
There is a tendency with Netflix Originals to feel like they have been created by an algorithm – none more so that its slew of romantic comedies aimed at teenagers, which we must assume are designed using actual check lists to ensure all the cliches are being covered. The Perfect Date unashamedly ticks every familiar box, and just about manages to win you over with its story of a young man who poses as a fake date and then – gah! – falls in love with one of his clients. What can I say? Leads Noah Centineo and Laura Marano are charming! It's a movie designed to be watched and forgotten! It is the very definition of “fine”!
4. The Platform (56 million views)
The idea behind this gripping Spanish horror-thriller concerns a large table of food that descends through the cells of a dystopian prison. Everyone is invited to eat as much as they like in an allotted time – but the more the prisoners on the upper floors choose to consume, the less those lower down get to eat (yes, it is a metaphor for capitalism, well done). As parables go, The Platform is hardly subtle, though its single location premise, coupled with themes of isolation and claustrophobia, meant its arrival at the height of a global lockdown with met with added relevance. It's also super violent in a distinctly old school way, and packed with interesting twists and turns – even if the ending proves a bit unsatisfactory.
3. Extraction (99 million views)
Chris Hemsworth gifted us with the improbably named hero “Tyler Rake” in this unashamedly blunt action-thriller, set in Bangladesh. As a mercenary for hire tasked with rescuing a drug lord's son from a rival gang, the film is totally unsubtle, caught somewhere between the explosive excess of Michael Bay and the choppy action of Tony Scott. But the film's inspired 12 minute-long “single take” fight-chase sequence makes for an impressive showstopper, even as the film overstays its welcome and leans more and more into cliche. Bonus points because Tyler Rake actually kills somebody with a rake, though.
2. Triple Frontier (63 millon views)
This star-studded riff on the action-heist movie by writer-director J.C Chandor sets out to flip a narrative we know all too well. While most heist movies end with the heist being successfully pulled off, Triple Frontier instead finds it story in the logistical problems that come with stealing a shit load of cash in the middle of the South American jungle. Namely, how do these boys get the money home? Along the way, Chandor delights in subverting the story and also the personas of his stars (Ben Affleck, Oscar Issac, Charlie Hunnam), ramping up the energy with some dazzling aerial set-pieces. There are refreshingly old-fashioned, men-on-a-mission vibes, though they're paired with an unpredictable narrative that takes no prisoners. Definitely the most underrated film here.
1. The Irishman (64 million views)
Martin Scorsese's latest masterpiece is also the best film on this list – and also the best Netflix Original to date, regardless of viewing figures. Much was made of The Irishman's decision to digitally “de-age” its cast, which contributed to its monumental budget of over $200 million. Was the experiment worth it? Absolutely, if only to reinforce The Irishman's position as a funeral for the gangster genre, allowing Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci and Al Pacino to play themselves across multiple decades. It is a big and lumbering beast of a film, but its non-linear story is emphasized by a gargantuan runtime that hits you meaningfully in the final moments; a sense of misguided ambition, a life wasted. Say what you will about Netflix, but this wouldn't have gotten made any other way.
Artwork for this article was created by Braulio Kuwabara. You can follow his work here.