The foundation of Hollywood is built on stories about Good Guys vs. Bad Guys. However, one of the appeals of gangster movies is their uniqueness. They’re filled with anti-heroes, crooks you support despite your own moral compass. They tell the story of the crooked American underbelly, the demise of the American dream, and societal shortcomings. It’s about the fight of the working class to have it all, despite all the institutional forces fighting against us. They depict humanity, and a world divided not by good and evil but by varied shades of grey.
Here are the 10 most enjoyable Gangster Movies currently streaming on Netflix.
1. The Irishman
Scorsese and De Niro reunited nearly 20 years after Goodfellas for this 2019 Netflix original film. It’s moreover three hours lengthy, but it’s incredibly watchable. It is partially based on the true story of Frank Sheeran (De Niro), who served in WWII and afterward became a truck driver. In the end, he became a hitman for the Mafia. He was linked with Jimmy Hoffa, the late president of the Teamsters Union.
When this film was first aired, much was made of how technological technology was used to “de-age” De Niro and other cast members as we follow their lives from World War II to virtually the present day. Fortunately, you won’t have to worry about visual effects overshadowing the tale. The Irishman is still a look at the life of a mob hitman.
2. Shot Caller
Have you ever wondered what would happen if Jaime Lannister joined a prison gang? This film does star Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, but that’s about as close as we’ll get. During his time in prison for DUI, Coster-character Waldau’s Jacob Harlon joins a violent gang and rises through its ranks. Following his release, he is charged with arranging a weapons transaction with another gang or risk the lives of his family. Shot Caller is one of the Netflix gangster movies that focus on time spent behind bars.
3. Gun City
Gun City is a 1921 Spanish gangster movie that is set in Barcelona. It’s better experienced in its original tongue. It follows detectives as they try to find anarchists who hijacked a military train. To obtain information, the detectives resort to increasingly violent measures, including murder. Once the detectives have gotten to the bottom of the matter, they have only a few hours to develop a solution or face more bloodshed.
4. Uncut Gems
The Safdie brothers are indisputable monarchs of tense filmmaking. If you thought Good Times was difficult to watch, just wait until you see Howard Ratner (Adam Sandler) make yet another insane, high-stakes gamble in this 135-minute anxiety attack of a film. The compulsive diamond dealer’s gambling debts drive him to get further and deeper into difficulty with the mob, which is quickly losing tolerance. But Howard has a way out in the form of a $1 million black opal he found deep under Ethiopia’s terrible mines. It’s just bad he can’t find it.
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5. Imperial Dreams
In this moving drama, John Boyega plays a freshly released convict entangled in the dreadful cycle that many individuals experience after being released from jail. Boyega plays Bambi, a 21-year-old who gets a taste of freedom after serving time in prison for a weapons-related offense. Bambi is determined to live the right way and do the right thing for his son, but the system is stacked against him.
He makes several attempts to live the straight and narrow, despite the constant pressure from family and friends in the projects he used to live to get back in the game. Bambi is just one of many dismal cases, and the film does an excellent job of immersing us in the never-ending cycle of violence and crime that even the most well-meaning ex-convicts face outside of jail.
Tom Hardy reprises his role in this 2015 film. He doubles as both Ronnie and Reggie Kray. During the 1950s and 1960s, the real-life identical twin brothers were dreaded mobsters in London. We see their ascension and fall as gangsters until they are apprehended and condemned to life in prison in 1969.
Martin Scorsese’s next iconic crime picture, starring Robert De Niro, Ray Liotta, and Joe Pesci. It is supposed to be an adaptation of Nicholas Pileggi’s 1985 novel Wiseguy, for which he also co-wrote the script. The plot centers around Henry Hill, his ascension to the position of the mob boss, his horrific fall from grace, his personal life, and his interactions with his colleagues Jimmy Conway and Tommy DeVito. Goodfellas is still regarded as one of the greatest gangster films ever filmed in the genre’s history.
8. Kill the Irishman
This 2011 film, not to be mistaken with The Irishman earlier on this list, is based on the true story of Danny Greene. Greene, played by Ray Stevenson, climbed through the ranks of the Cleveland Mafia in the 1960s and 1970s. His life was eventually cut short due to a turf battle between the Irish and Italian mafias. This fascinating look at a distinct aspect of organized crime in America, Christopher Walken and Val Kilmer also star.