The gangster movie genre has been around for decades, and has seen some of the most powerful stories unfold. From reimaginings of classic mafia men to modern-day thrillers, these films explore the deepest inclinations we all have toward violence and greed. There’s a definite magic that comes with watching these movies, and you’ll find yourself identifying with some of the characters. If you’re looking for a great night out at the movies, try these top 10 gangster movies of all time.
1. Goodfellas (1990)
Aside from being one of Martin Scorsese’s most iconic films, Goodfellas has also become a cult classic and remains a must see for all m4ufree movie buffs. Adapted from Nicholas Pileggi’s nonfiction book Wiseguy, the film was a true crime drama that tells the story of real life mobster Henry Hill (Ray Liotta) and his relationship with fellow wise guys Jimmy Conway (Robert De Niro) and Tommy DeVito (Joe Pesci).
While it may not have been a big hit at the Box Office in 1990, Goodfellas is an amazing movie that has stood the test of time. It has been referred to as one of the best mob movies of all time and is a must see for all fans of the genre.
2. Public Enemies (1995)
In the 1930s, bank robber John Dillinger (Johnny Depp) and his gang challenge the law with boldness. He became a sensation in the press and, in 1934, the FBI labeled him public enemy number one. Director Michael Mann, who has given us such excellent films as Heat and The Insider, retells Dillinger’s escapades. While the movie isn’t as thrilling as some of its predecessors, it delivers enough drama to make for a compelling watch.
Johnny Depp is convincing as Dillinger and Christian Bale is strong as Purvis, a hardened federal agent who seeks to bring Dillinger to justice. Despite some problems with the film’s hand-held camerawork, it’s an enjoyable and well-made motion picture that should be watched by anyone interested in American history or gangster movies.
3. The Friends of Eddie Coyle (1995)
The Friends of Eddie Coyle is one of those rare crime dramas that stays firmly grounded in the moral fiber of everyday American life, eschewing the macho swagger that so often pervades the genre. Director Peter Yates, who helmed Bullitt and Robbery, is a naturalistic stylist, and the film is an engrossing study of clandestine exchanges in a grim Boston milieu, where the chips on the table are information and money.
The film stars Robert Mitchum, whose performance is a masterpiece of quiet-but-determined expression. In the film’s first half, he plays a small-time Boston gunrunner who’s looking at a lengthy prison term.
4. Killing Them Softly (1996)
In Killing Them Softly, three unlucky criminals rob a poker game run by the Mafia. The gang hires hitman Jackie (Brad Pitt) to take them down. A neo-noir crime thriller from writer-director Andrew Dominik, it’s based on George V. Higgins’ 1974 novel Cogan’s Trade. Unlike most gangster movies, this one doesn’t follow the traditional top-down storyline. Instead, it focuses on the twisted mind of its hero, who’s not really interested in his work as a hitman; he’d rather “kill them softly.”
The scummy world of mobsters and hired hitmen is a grimy place with not much hope for the future. Dominik and Pitt internalize this and show us the grime, the greed, and the dread.
5. Tony Montana (1995)
Al Pacino’s iconic portrayal of Tony Montana has had an impact on American society that no other gangster movie has. The character has been a cult classic since the movie’s release in 1983 and has become a source of inspiration for countless crime writers, rappers and other creatives to this day.
In Scarface, Al Pacino’s character Tony Montana is a Cuban refugee who arrives in Miami as a result of the Mariel Boatlift in 1980. He quickly becomes involved in a cocaine business and begins to grow increasingly out of control. Tony is also betrayed by his lawyer, George Sheffield, who secretly works with drug lords Alejandro Sosa and Gaspar Gomez. This leads Tony into a trap that he barely escapes from.
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