The Best 20 Gangster Movies for Crime Film Fans

Last Updated on December 1, 2021

This genre is a popular choice among fans of true crime, action, and the dark ingenuity of the underworld. If you are in the mood for an intense movie tonight, feel free to choose one from our top selection of gangster movies below.

1. The Godfather (1972)

When Vito Corleone, Don of the Corleone crime family, refuses to give his protection to the drug-running Tattaglia family, the latter retaliates. In the ensuing war, Vito’s oldest son Sonny takes command. But it is his brother Michael, once banished to Sicily, who rises through the ranks and turns on their enemies in what becomes the bloodsoaked baptism of a new Godfather.

2. Reservoir Dogs (1992)

Eight men get together to execute a diamond heist. Joe and Eddie Cabot are the leader of the group and his son. The rest of the gang do not reveal their names and go by White, Brown, Blonde, Blue, Pink, and Orange. But after the heist leaves Brown dead, some of them suspect that there is a traitor in the group.

Blonde is the main suspect because he had killed several civilians during the robbery and kidnapped and tortured a cop afterwards. But as they regroup in one of Joe’s warehouses – and the truth turns out not to be that simple – their suspicions boil over and turn deadly.

3. Goodfellas (1990)

This movie is based on the real story of Henry Hill, a gangster who turned FBI informant. Starting in 1955, Hill was a youngster enamored by the Italian-American gangsters in his Brooklyn neighborhood and soon, he starts working for them as a fence. Over the years, he graduates to more serious crimes and forms a tight clique with Tommy and Jimmy.

But one night, they murder a high-ranking man from the Gambino crime family and their downward spiral begins. They hide the body but continue to operate outside of their leader Paul Cicero’s approval, dealing in drugs and hijacking trucks. When Cicero finally gets sick of him, Hill knows what’s coming and becomes an FBI informant to enter witness protection.

4. Pulp Fiction (1994)

This cinematic classic follows several people in the life of gangster Marsellus Wallace. Samuel L Jackson plays a hitman, Jules Winnfield, employed by Wallace and although he excels at his job Jules is having second thoughts about his life of crime.

Throughout the story, Jules and his partner run into the other main characters; Wallace’s bored wife (Uma Thurman) who overdoses on their watch and the wily man Wallace ordered them to kill, Butch Coolidge (Bruce Willis). As their lives merge, the results are violent, heartwarming, and life-changing.

5. Scarface (1983)

Tony Montana arrives in Miami as a Cuban refugee but he and three friends are given green cards after they murder someone at the behest of Frank Lopez, a drug lord. Now working for Lopez, they get entangled in the dangers of narcotics which not all of them will survive.

Tony, in particular, plays with fire as he falls for Frank’s wife, ticks off cocaine kingpin Alejandro Sosa, and starts to build a multi-million-dollar drug empire of his own.

6. The Departed (2006)

In Boston, Colin Sullivan is an officer assigned to the Special Investigations Unit of the Massachusetts State Police. One of his first assignments is to track down a mole inside of his unit, a person who endangers the undercover agents who want to bring down an Irish mob boss called Frank Costello. But Sullivan is the mole and he goes to violent lengths to destroy the investigation and his own team.

7. A History of Violence (2005)

When spree killers attack a diner in Indiana, they believe it’s an easy target. But the owner, Tom Stall, kills them with frightening efficiency. While the town thinks he’s just a heroic Normal Joe, a gangster named Carl Fogarty knows better.

Arriving in town, he openly accuses Tom of being a Philadelphia hitman named Joey Cusack. Tensions grow as suspicions about his identity grow, attracting more gangsters into Tom’s life until he drops the pretence. As Cusack re-emerges, the results leave a bloody trail into his past and back.

8. No Country for Old Men (2007)

Llewelyn Moss is hunting in the desert when he comes across a drug deal gone bad. Finding $2 million in a briefcase, he grabs it and flees. However, a deadly hitman, Anton Chigurh, is hired to get the money back.

A violent chase ensues that leaves several people dead and both men injured. But Moss realizes that he has opened a can of worms, one that will have dire consequences for him and his family.

9. Miller’s Crossing (1990)

Tom Reagan loses his position as the right-hand man for mobster Leo O’Bannon after he advises him not to protect a man called Bernie. The latter is a bookie wanted by Italian gangster Johnny Caspar and this interference will cause a gang war.

Looking for work, Tom approaches Caspar. But to test his loyalty, Caspar orders Tom to kill Bernie in the woods at Miller’s Crossing. What happens in the forest leads to bloodshed, blackmail, and revenge.

10. The Irishman (2019)

Based on a true story, the movie takes a guess at what happened to the 1950s mobster Jimmy Hoffa and his trusted hitman, Frank Sheeran.

The story, told from Sheeran’s perspective, follows his rise from a crooked truck driver to Hoffa’s right-hand man. But when Hoffa starts to go off the rails and anger the other mob bosses, they give Sheeran the order to kill him.

11. Léon: The Professional (1994)

Léon is a legendary hitman in New York City’s Little Italy. He doesn’t care about anyone until he rescues his 12-year-old neighbor, Mathilda Lando, when a corrupt DEA agent, Norman Stansfield, slaughters her entire family.

When Mathilda learns that Léon is a hitman, she convinces him to take her on as a pupil so she can avenge her four-year-old brother. But when she sets off on her own to kill Stansfield, Léon faces the ultimate fight to save her.

12. Boyz n the Hood (1991)

When 10-year-old Tre Styles gets into a brawl at school, his mother sends him to live with his father with the hope that he will learn valuable life lessons. While his father does his best, Try gets sucked in with old friends who like to steal.

By the time Try is a teenager he’s more responsible and holds down a job. But two of his friends are now gang members. When a tragic death hits, Try has to make the most important decision in his life – seek revenge and perpetuate gang violence or go to college.

13. The Untouchables (1987)

During the 1930s, Al Capone runs such a successful illegal liquor trade that the Bureau of Prohibition brings together agents Eliot Ness and George Stone. Their integrity prevents them from being bribed by Capone’s men and after they successfully destroy one of the mobster’s liquor caches, they become known as The Untouchables.

But getting Capone behind bars is not that simple. It becomes a deadly game of threats, assassination and betrayal threatening to push the good guys to cross a dark moral line.

14. City of God (2002)

The Cidade de Deus (“City of God”) is a housing project that is raised during the 1960s and it quickly turns into a crime-ridden area. The story follows a group over the period of ten years or more, following their evolution from petty criminals to the drug lords that rule the City.

One youth, called Rocket, uses his love of photography to document the brutal conclusion of their tale and also to get out of Cidade de Deus.

15. King of New York (1990)

When Frank White arrives in New York, bad people start to die. But White himself is a drug lord and he thinks nothing of shooting honest cops. As the authorities start to close in on White, the body count mounts on both sides and the real reason behind his systematic assassination of powerful criminals become clear – and it is not to be the top dog.

16. Eastern Promises (2007)

When midwife Anna Khitrova finds a Russian diary on a teenage girl who died in childbirth in London, she has the book translated. She hopes to learn where the baby’s family is so that the infant can find a home. But what the girl’s journal reveals is a horrifying event that led to her pregnancy and it also throws Anna into the coldblooded world of the Russian mafia.

17. American Gangster (2007)

This movie is based on the remarkable true story of two men. In 1968, Frank Lucas begins his rise as Harlem’s top heroin drug lord and Newark detective Richie Roberts, who is ostracized for being an honest cop.

But when Frank’s empire grows too big and the corruption in the police force swells, an honest cop is just what they need. The result of Richie’s determination causes a shocking number of arrests in the New York DEA and NYPD.

18. In Bruges (2008)

Rookie hitman Ray botches an assignment and accidentally kills a child. His employer sends him to Bruges, together with his mentor Ken, to await further instruction.

While in the city, Ray is haunted by his mistake and eventually, their boss gives Ken the order to kill him, deeming it unforgivable to take the life of a child. But Ken refuses, forcing them to go toe to toe with their lethal boss.

19. Casino (1995)

Sam “Ace” Rothstein is appointed by the Chicago Mafia to skim money from their Tangiers Casino in Las Vegas. At first, his talent for illegal profit earns him the respect of the Midwest Mafia bosses and they send his childhood friend and enforcer, Nicky Santoro, to protect him.

But as the years pass by, Nicky’s side hustles, Sam’s unpredictable wife, and the tightening noose of the authorities are just some of the problems leading Sam down a path of disgrace and violence.

20. Gomorrah (2008)

In the summer of 2004, Naples become a warzone after a gang hit triggers tensions between the clans of the Di Lauro Camorra syndicate. The film follows five individuals, showcasing their different stories as their lives are devastated in the wake of the conflict’s violence and greed.

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