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Best Gangster Movies On Netflix
Hollywood is built on stories about Good Guys vs. Bad Guys. But, part of the charm of gangster movies is that they’re different. They’re full of anti-heroes, of criminals that you root for despite your own moral compass. They tell the stories of the crooked American underbelly, the disruption of the American dream, and the failings of society. It’s about a working class struggle to have it all, despite all the institutional forces working against us. They show humanity—and a world that isn’t split by good and evil, but into various shades of grey.
Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, Al Pacino, Ray Romano, Harvey Keitel, and Bobby Cannavale star in the film based on the 2004 book I Heard You Paint Houses. De Niro plays Frank Sheeran, a truck driver-turned-hitman who gets into the mix with Russell Bufalino (Pesci). This is a special one, too, because Pesci came out of his retirement from acting to step into one more gangster role. The film dropped on Netflix on November 27.
Gangs of New York
Hey, look. You can’t have a gangster movie list without a few Scorsese movies in the mix. And this one might not be his best, but damn if every single Daniel-Day Lewis scene isn’t worth watching for a second time. This film brings Scorsese’s favorite topic back to the mid 19th century and the mob wars of New York’s Five Points.
We weren’t kidding about Scorsese being on here. And this list wouldn’t be complete without the movie that started it all—launching the director into the stratosphere along with his frequent collaborators Harvey Keitel and Robert De Niro
Kill the Irishman
Speaking of classic gangster movie vets, Ray Stevenson, Vincent D’Onofrio, Christopher Walken, and Val Kilmer all show up in this movie about mobster Danny Greene (Stevenson) and his battle against the Mafia to control organized crime in 1970s Cleveland. Like The Irishman, this one was also adapted from a book, To Kill the Irishman: The War That Crippled the Mafia.
Daniel Craig doesn’t limit his spy or mob-adjacent roles to the James Bond franchise. Layer Cake, which came out in 2005, features Craig as a London-based criminal called XXXX. He’s a cocaine dealer who is actually looking to get out of the business, but before he can, he has to complete two more lightly (very) illegal, drug-related tasks. Sienna Miller and Tom Hardy also star in Matthew Vaughn’s directorial debut.
A teen boy from London named Tom Harvey and his friend Lucy get attacked by a group of masked men at her house. When Tom wakes up in the hospital, doctors tell him that, somehow, parts of his phone are inside of his head. He discovers he can pick up on transmissions and see signals that help catch his and Lucy’s attackers. He takes on the alias “iBoy.”
Once a Gangster
Not all mob movies need to be serious. This comedic turn from director Alex Fong focuses on Roast Pork, a celebrity cook with mob connections who is forced to run a Kowloon Triad. There is a musical number, in case you were wondering where the real fun comes in.
This 1973 movie stars Jackie Chan in his prime as a Hong Kong taxi driver who tries to evade gangsters who are after certain important evidence that happen to be… in his cab. Simple. Lots of action.
You can’t name a film “Gun City” and then not have the plot involve criminals or mobsters of some kind. In 1921 Barcelona, tensions are high between police and anarchists, which leads to a cop getting in with both sides to try to stop a civil war before it happens.
Detective Lee Biggings goes undercover to bring down a notorious gang. But nothing is simple when you’re a detective pretending to be one of the gang. It becomes even more complicated the deeper Biggings gets because, like so many gangster movies, allegiances may not be a ironclad as they seem.
A Netflix film about an idyllic Italian town seems quaint, but this is a gangster movie list. Yes, this film is about a seaside town, but when it’s on the market to be turned into a gambling destination, the criminals and gangsters bubble up real quick.
This film came out in 1973, so the flare pants are real—but the heroine is a real badass. A special agent is tasked with the mission to stop drug lords and trafficking. The name of the blaxploitation film’s titular character should be enough to sell you on this one.
Hilary Weaver is a freelance writer based in New York who writes about politics, queer issues, Meryl Streep, Glenn Close, and every woman the Queen has ever made a dame.