12 Best Crime Movies From the Perspective of the Criminal

"My hands are a little dirty."

Drive 2011 movie
Drive 2011 movie

The crime genre tends to bring to mind detective movies such as Silence of the Lamb or Se7en. But what about those taken from the point-of-view of the criminal? Here we’ve compiled a list of the best crime movies where the bad guys take centre stage.


12. Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998)

As part of the Guy Ritchie gangster trilogy, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels is the epitome of crime: drugs, gambling, robbery- you name it. But what makes Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels so entertaining is the way criminals are pitted against one another.

Aggressive, energetic and immensely funny, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels depicts four friends going to extreme lengths to pay back their debt to crime boss Hatchet Harry (P.H. Moriarty). Starring Jason Statham, Vinnie Jones and Jason Flemyng, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels is a classic piece of cocky British cinema.


11. Natural Born Killers (1994)

Natural Born Killers

Psychedelic indie-flick Natural Born Killers uses an array of experimental techniques to put a spin on the crime-genre. Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis satirize Hollywood as Mallory and Mickey Knox: a frenzied version of Bonnie and Clyde. Black-and-white cutaways, choppy editing and TV show parodies make Natural Born Killers a quirky cult classic.

While the murder sprees of Mallory and Mickey Knox aren’t exactly promoted, the playful attitude in which they are presented doesn’t exactly condemn them, either. Natural Born Killers controversially frames the media as the true villain of society, with tabloid journalist (Robert Downey Jr.) jumping on the opportunity to sell their crimes as entertainment.


10. Seven Psychopaths (2012)

seven psychopaths

Featuring a stellar cast of Sam Rockwell, Christopher Walken, Colin Farrell and Woody Harrelson, Seven Psychopaths is a darkly comic movie featuring kidnapped dogs and extreme writer’s block.

The hyperbolic style of Seven Psychopaths packs each scene with bizarre humour and unpredictable scenarios. Hans (Walken) and Billy (Rockwell), having made a career from kidnapping people’s dogs to receive the reward money, accidently get embroiled with a gang of psychopaths (lead by Harrelson). Meanwhile, alcoholic writer Marty (Farrell) needs some screenplay inspiration. Bitter, ironic and somewhat ridiculous, Seven Psychopaths is perfect for when you want some punchy entertainment.

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9. Thelma and Louise (1991)

Thelma and Louise is a character-driven road movie following another Bonnie and Clyde parody, except this time starring two sisters. A landmark of feminist cinema, Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon are polar-opposite personalities who decide to take a walk on the wild side.

With bars, guns and robberies, Thelma and Louise won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay despite its controversial release. Ridley Scott attacks ideas of American patriotism and stereotypical female roles (in both cinema and society) while entertaining audiences with witty humour, intense drama and Brad Pitt’s first major film appearance as drifter J.D.


8. Burn After Reading (2008)

Burn After Reading

A Coen Brothers classic starring frequent collaborator Frances McDormand, Burn After Reading is a prime example of the Coen’s unique style. When Linda Litzke and Chad Feldheimer find secret CIA information, they attempt to blackmail their way into funding cosmetic surgery.

With George Clooney, Tilda Swinton and John Malkovich, Burn After Reading brims with energy and imagination. The humorously-awkward depiction of two everyday colleagues, who find themselves in the deep end, boast the filmmakers’ iconic, slapstick trademarks — a definite must-watch for any Coen Brothers fan.


7. Ocean’s Eleven (2001)

Ocean's 11

The first of a four-part franchise, Ocean’s Eleven is the most famous heist movie of all time. Immediately after being released on parole, dapper Danny Ocean (George Clooney) organises an elaborate casino robbery with ten other recruits.

The eleven specialists -including Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Bernie Mac and Casey Affleck- plan to rob three casinos and stroll out with bags of cash. But will they pull it off? Ocean’s Eleven is a glamorous Hollywood blockbuster: slick, funny and consistently entertaining. A definitive crowd pleaser for a weekend movie night.

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6. In Bruges (2008)

In Bruges

Another Martin McDonagh addition, In Bruges depicts the aftermath of crime, as two hitmen hide out in Belgium until the dust from their last job settles. Ray (Colin Farrell) despises the historic town, meanwhile Ken (Brendan Gleeson) adores the picturesque sites. Regardless of their opinions, chaos soon erupts when the crime-boss (Ralph Fiennes) calls.

In Bruges is funny, original and surprisingly deep. Themes of guilt and suicide are handled sensitively, yet McDonagh never skimps on the laughter. Perhaps the balance of pathos and humour is what makes In Bruges so brilliant, alongside the overtly entertaining gags.


5. Snatch (2000)

Snatch movie

The most famous Guy Ritchie gangster instalment, Snatch stars familiar faces Jason Statham and Vinnie Jones alongside newcomer Brad Pitt. An adrenaline fuelled gangster-movie, Snatch surrounds an illegal boxing match that gangster Brick Top (Alan Ford) agrees to offer bets on. Meanwhile, Frankie Four Fingers (Benicio Del Toro) has arrived in London with “a diamond the size of fist”- one that multiple criminals have their eye on.

Snatch is smart in its ability to converge so many storylines into one plot, with audiences having no time to breathe between fight scenes. With so much going on, Snatch is a movie you can watch again and again — and still find something new to laugh at. Though the 2017 TV adaption received good reviews, it doesn’t quite reach the standard Ritchie set in the original.


4. Drive (2011)

Drive 2011

Drive is probably the most serious movie on this list, with tense drama and sparse dialogue making this slow-paced crime movie chock-full of suspense. Though Ryan Gosling has the reputation of a Hollywood pretty-boy, Drive exposes his true talent for acting.

A movie stuntman who spends his nights as a getaway driver, “Driver” (Gosling) becomes involved in a million-dollar heist that puts his life on the line. Drive is a vengeful thriller with heaps of atmosphere, showcasing some beautiful cinematography. Gosling gives a remarkably brooding performance, compelling audiences with the same icy intensity demonstrated in Blade Runner: 2049 and A Place Beyond the Pines.

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3. Reservoir Dogs (1992)

Reservoir Dogs

Quentin Tarantino’s directorial debut Reservoir Dogs is set around six criminals hired to complete a robbery that goes disastrously wrong. Mr. White, Mr. Blonde, Mr. Orange, Mr. Pink, Mr. Blue and Mr. Brown are all strangers who -when caught out by the police- must figure out who the rat is.

Tarantino doesn’t hold back on the violence, incorporating his signature methods of quick-witted dialogue scenes, shootouts and his personal cameo. The pettiness of the gangsters is what makes Reservoir Dogs so entertaining, now considered a cult classic among film buffs. Reservoir Dogs is littered with iconic moments, including the opening diner conversation and the “Stuck in the Middle with You” torture scene.


2. Pulp Fiction (1994)

Pulp Fiction
Image source: mentalfloss.com

The second Quentin Tarantino movie to grace our list of the best crime movies, Pulp Fiction stars John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson as two hitmen chasing after a miscellaneous briefcase. Interwoven into the story are multiple other narratives, all of which are split into seven intertitles.

The creative flair Tarantino exhibits makes Pulp Fiction the most prominent movie of his filmography. A groundbreaking piece of cinema, the black comedy is endlessly quotable, ruthlessly entertaining and utterly unpredictable. Despite its disjointed appearance, Pulp Fiction is intrinsically clever, showing off Tarantino’s auteur skill in both the writing and filming of his iconic movies.


1. The Usual Suspects (1995)

The Usual Suspects

Conman Kint (Kevin Spacey) tries to convince the police of a mythic crime-lord’s existence, who dragged himself and four others into a dangerous heist. Winning the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor, The Usual Suspects demands audience attention to unfurl its intricate plot- climaxing with a legendary plot-twist.

Riddled with suspense, The Usual Suspects explores themes of corruption and deceit in a philosophical take on the neo-noir thriller. The Usual Suspects put director Bryan Singer on the map, playing with chronology and narration in a plot inspired by the famous Casablanca quote, “Round up the usual suspects!”

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