If you have to watch one Amazon Prime Video movie in July 2024, stream this one

Harrison Ford in Witness.

Someone at Amazon Prime Video really loves Westerns. Among the new movies on Prime Video in July are classic Westerns, including Shane, A Fistful of Dollars, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, and El Dorado. But Prime Video isn’t just limited to Westerns, and it has added a very robust selection of movies from the last six decades in this month alone. Modern movie lovers may appreciate Prime Video’s more recent films like Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning, Bob Marley: One Love, and Lisa Frankenstein. But for our money, the one Amazon Prime Video movie that you have to watch in July 2024 is the 1985 thriller Witness.

Director Peter Weir did an amazing job of bringing the script by Earl W. Wallace, Pamela Wallace, and William Kelley to life. Witness earned eight Oscar nominations in 1986, including ones for Best Picture, Best Actor, and Best Director. It won for Best Original Screenplay and Best Film Editing. The film’s cast didn’t go home with any Oscars, but Harrison Ford and Kelly McGillis did some of the best work of their careers. Ford portrayed John Book, a cop who is forced to protect an Amish woman, Rachel Lapp (McGillis), and her son, Samuel (Lukas Haas). While on a trip to Philadelphia, Samuel witnessed a murder, and the killers will do anything to silence him. The only safe place that John can take them is back to Pennsylvania’s Amish community.

Witness will celebrate its 40th anniversary in 2025, but why wait? Here are the reasons why you should watch Witness on Amazon Prime Video in July.

Harrison Ford proves he can do more than sci-fi and fantasy

Harrison Ford and Kelly McGillis in Witness.
Paramount Pictures

The early films in Harrison Ford’s filmography included some all-time great sci-fi and fantasy flicks including Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Blade Runner. But by 1985, Ford was looking to establish himself as a leading man in non-genre movies. He found the right project in Witness, which cast him the role of Philadelphia police detective John Book.

Ford’s action experience made him a credible choice for John when he faces danger in this film. However, Ford also gave the character an inner life and vulnerability that let him find a place in his heart for Rachel and her son. He puts his life on the line for them, and considers giving up everything he’s known just to keep them safe. Now that’s a movie hero of the highest magnitude. For his performance, Ford scored his first Oscar nomination for Best Actor.

The film has believable tension and thrills

Harrison Ford in Witness.

One of the things that ’80s films excelled at was setting up life-and-death stakes for the main characters. Once Samuel witnesses a murder in Philadelphia, his life is truly in danger, and Witness sells those stakes from the beginning. Similarly, as soon as John realizes that the murder has links to internal police corruption, suddenly he’s in over his head in danger as well. John can’t stand against these crooked cops by himself, and they leave him barely clinging to life.

During John’s recovery time among the Amish, there’s always the omnipresent threat of being discovered by the men who tried to kill him. Amish country may be a good hiding place because of its lack of modern technology, but the film allows the audience to feel the walls slowly closing in on John, Rachel, and Sam until they can’t hide anymore.

There’s an understated love story between John and Rachel

Kelly McGillis and Harrison Ford in Witness.

Arguably, one of the reasons why Witness resonates so deeply is that the film slowly establishes a mutual attraction between John and Rachel. They are almost literally from different worlds, and he’s a fish out of water in her hometown. And yet there’s no denying the spark between them.

The film is in no rush to get these two characters together, but romantic tension can be just as exciting as action. The real question is whether John and Rachel are willing to make the necessary sacrifices in order to act on their feelings.

The final showdown among the Amish

The final showdown of Witness.

It’s not too big of a spoiler to say that the dirty cops eventually catch up to John, Rachel, and Sam. While John has his own way of dealing with threats, the truly interesting thing here is the way the Amish handle the danger in their midst. The Amish don’t believe in violence, making threats, or using guns. But they wield the power of their convictions as a weapon against the dangerous intruders.

They don’t physically do anything, and yet by acting as witnesses, they empowered themselves. Because of the film’s premise, Witness is the only movie that can pull off that kind of showdown. And it leads to a very natural and emotionally satisfying conclusion for the film.

Watch Witness on Prime Video.