While crime films may have peaked in the '70s, with the likes of The Godfather, Mean Streets and Taxi Driver, it's always been a genre that's consistently seen impressive entries.

More recently, however, crime films have tended to skew more towards all-out actions films as opposed to gritty crime stories. Whatever way you look at it, one thing's for sure - crime films aren't going away.

Here's our pick of the ten best crime films since 2000.



David Cronenberg's work has always been marked by two specific pointers - a unique visual sense and the ability to utterly creep people out using bodily horror. Therefore, seeing him take on the crime genre was always going to be an interesting one. Adapting the graphic novel of the same name and hiring a post-Lord of the Rings Viggo Mortensen, Cronenberg crafted a truly unique crime film with A History Of Violence. At first, you begin to suspect that it's something along the lines of Michael Winner's Death Wish, but in reality, it's something much more interesting and elusive. Marked with fantastic performances by Mario Bello and Ed Harris, A History Of Violence is an underrated entry in Cronenberg's work.

9. ELITE SQUAD (2007)

Although Jose Padilha has had more success with long-form storytelling like Netflix's excellent Narcos, his start began in his native Brazil with Elite Squad. Borrowing heavily from early Michael Mann and Hong Kong action films, Elite Squad drops you right into the thick of the action and charges forward with an electricity unlike anything you're likely to see before. Wagner Moura - who played Escobar in Narcos - is a captain in BOPE, Brazil's militarised police force that has running gun battles with drug traffickers on a daily basis. Hardened by years of ceaseless violence, he needs to find a suitable replacement and tests out two rookies to see if they're up to the challenge.


8. THE RAID 2: BERENDAL (2014)

Gareth Evans' sequel to the brutal, fast-paced Raid was going to have some challenge to top the first. With The Raid 2: Berendal, yet again he used outlandishly staged stunts and an incredible sense of pacing and editing to create the one of the greatest Asian crime films in recent years. Set a few months after the events of the first film, Rama (Iko Uwais) is now sent undercover to infiltrate the Indonesian underworld. At first, he's sent to prison to gain credibility and gets close to Uco, a rebellious prince who is a constant disappointment to his self-made criminal father. As Uwais goes deeper into the organisation, the lines between right and wrong become more and more blurred.

7. TRAINING DAY (2001)

Denzel Washington rightfully won an Oscar for his performance in Training Day as Alonzo Harris, a maverick LAPD narcotics detective who takes Jake Hoyt (Ethan Hawke) under his wing on his first day. What begins first as somewhat unorthodox tactics and police investigation soon devolves into full-blown corruption, with Hoyt stuck right in the middle of it all. Washington gives a full-throated, screaming performance as Harris and it's clear that he's enjoying every minute of it. Too often, Washington is portrayed in much more relatable and everyman roles, but between this and the lesser American Gangster, it's clear Washington has a talent for villainous roles.

6. SEXY BEAST (2000)

While the majority of the film revolves around Ray Winstone, it's really Ben Kingsley as Don Logan who steals the show in Sexy Beast. Well, that and Jonathan Glazer's incredible work behind the camera as director. Winstone plays Gal Dove, an affable retired criminal who's hiding out in Spain with his wife and friends when a blast from the past - namely, Don Logan - returns to try and lure him back to London for a one-off job. Logan, however, is not using the softly-softly method and, instead, crashes through the relative peace in the most violent way possible. Kingsley gives one of his best performances and Glazer's direction is superb and razor-sharp. There's a reason why Sexy Beast often tops many British film lists - it's just an incredible watch and so visually unique for a film of this genre.



Described by the Coen Brothers as the closest they've gotten to action, No Country For Old Men has all the hallmarks of a classic Coen story - except that it wasn't theirs in the first place. Adapted from Cormac McCarthy's equally sparse novel, the film tells a simple story of a suitcase full of money and the violent ends people will go to protect it. While Javier Bardem was out in front as Anton Chigurh, the relentless, almost alien-like hitman, it was Tommy Lee Jones' quiet reserve and presence that really added a sense of gravitas to what could have been a misstep by the Coens. Instead, it's one of their finest works.



While Sam Mendes may be more well-known to mainstream audiences as the man behind Skyfall and Spectre, his earlier work on American Beauty and Road To Perdition showed that he was more than capable of making deeply affecting stories in the context of genre. With American Beauty, he worked within in the confines of a suburban drama and pushed it out to how we view life and death, the world around us and its prejudices. With Road To Perdition, there was the same thinking at work. A simple enough crime story about a mob enforcer and his son, forced to go on the run. However, the story widens out to encompass familial relationships. masculinity and the bonds between fathers and sons and, more further on, how violence ultimately begets more violence. One of the finest Tom Hanks performances you're likely to see and one of Paul Newman's final on-screen performances.


3. SICARIO (2015)

Looking at Sicario, you realise it has more in common with Silence of the Lambs than, say, Heat or Human Traffic. It's not just how Denis Villeneuve places a scene together and allows the pressure cooker scenario to linger far beyond what you're capable, it's the sheer sense of terror that's bearing down on Emily Blunt. Her performance is incredible; you can literally see her sweat through scene after scene as she stumbles from one insane setpiece to another. Like her, we're along for the ride and it's horrifying to watch. Roger Deakins' cinematography is also at work here, and it's one of his best films. The use of colour and landscape gives the sense that Juarez is a brutal place, almost like an alien planet in some regards.


2. THE DEPARTED (2006)

What made The Departed so interesting is that, for the first time, it reunited two titans of '70s cinemas into one film - namely Martin Scorsese and Jack Nicholson. And what a treat it was. You had Leonardo DiCaprio and Matt Damon, both at the height of their powers, an incredible supporting cast of Alec Baldwin, Vera Farmiga and Mark Wahlberg and a unique setting - Boston. There hadn't really been a crime film set in Boston before and, with The Departed, they used every facet of the city to give it a sense of life and character. Boston was as much a character in the film as Jack Nicholson and Scorsese knew how to drill down to that sense of place very well. After all, he directed some of the most quintessential New York films. Why wouldn't he be able to get a sense of Boston?


1. COLLATERAL (2004)

Like Martin Scorsese, Michael Mann has a real sense of place in his work. While Heat was every bit an LA film, it has become dated in certain aspects. Collateral brought it right up to the modern era and gave it a sense of vitality and realness. Not grittiness, realness. The use of HD cameras permeates the film with a documentary feel and Tom Cruise's clipped delivery and economic use of force is fascinating to watch. Jamie Foxx, meanwhile, goes against type as the sheepish taxi driver who's literally tied to the steering wheel whilst an engaging support cast of Mark Ruffalo, Peter Berg and Javier Bardem all fill out their roles with ease. After Heat, it's Mann's greatest crime film.




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