There’s no denying it – streaming services are revolutionising the way we enjoy films and television at home. Before, we used to just take what we were given by the bosses of a handful of channels or drive down to Blockbuster for a pricey two night rental. But now? We’ve got a whole universe of amazing entertainment right there at our fingertips.
Take Amazon Prime, for example. In a just a couple of minutes you can be signed up to a seemingly endless amount of quality entertainment – and if you’re anything like us, one of the first things you’ll be considering in all this is ‘what crime movies are on Amazon Prime?’ And the answer? Plenty!
But to save you the task of searching for yourself, we thought we’d help out. So we scoured their impressive archives and pulled together our favourite crime movies on Amazon Prime.
The best crime movies on Amazon Prime:
Younger viewers might be more familiar with the newer Sam Riley/Andrea Riseborough version, but the classic version of this British gangster flick comes from way back in 1947. Starring a young Dickie Attenborough, Brighton Rock is – of course – based on the Graham Greene novel written nine years previously. And it was highly controversial on its release. Never before had a British film shown violence and crime in quite as realistic and frightening a way. It was innovative at the time and still holds up as a stone cold gangster classic.
Nicolas Winding Refn’s uber cool eighties-inspired revenge flick is ice cold. Don’t expect emotions and insights into the human condition – that’s not his style. Expect Ryan Gosling driving fast and straightening people out with a hammer. Is Drive style over substance? Perhaps. But it’s also arguably the best neo-noir crime thriller of the past decade.
Set in Virginia in the early 1930’s, Lawless follows a trio of bootlegging brothers as they go about their illicit moonshine business. Based on The Wettest Country in the World by Matt Bondurant, it stars Shia LeBoeuf, Jason Clarke and Tom Hardy as the Brothers Bondurant. Gary Oldman pops up as a big-time gangster and Guy Pearce makes an unforgettably creepy appearance as a crooked US Marshal. But perhaps the stand-out cast members are the love interests, the beatific Jessica Chastain and Mia Wasikowska. Listen out for Nick Cave’s excellent score too.
End of Watch
If you liked Training Day, you’ll love End of Watch. It’s two cops driving around South Los Angeles, messing with gangbangers and generally getting themselves into trouble. Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña are LAPD partners and pals Brian Taylor and Miguel Zavala and we follow them as they go about their often pretty dangerous work. A lot of the movie is filmed using handheld cameras, which can so often be nauseating and distracting in a film. But the gimmick really works here and adds a real feeling of ‘being there’. It’s gritty, tense and thrilling. More sensitive viewers might want to watch out for some rather disturbing scenes of violence, though…
It’s not often that an Indonesian action film, directed by a Welshman, is the year’s best movie. But back in 2011? A lot of top critics would argue that it was the case. Gareth Evans’ breathlessly exciting actioner The Raid topped a lot of film buffs end of year lists and it’s not hard to see why. Casting a stuntman and martial artist in the lead role might seem a risky move, but in hiring Iwo Uwais, Evans pulled off a masterstroke. No mere actor could do what he does here in this borderline insane outing. The gist? Simple. An elite squad of policemen sweep a high-rise building in search of an evil crime lord hiding at the top. Cue a thousand fights and a million bullets. Crazy, exhilarating fun. Trust us.
What’s not to love about the idea of Tom Hardy playing both Ronnie and Reggie Kray, eh? Especially when halfway through they have a huge fight with each other. Okay, so film doesn’t quite live up to the premise and isn’t really all that more illuminating or better made than the 1990 Brit flick, The Krays (remember that? Starring 50% of Spandau Ballet). But it’s entertaining enough. C’mon… It’s Tom Hardy playing the Kray Twins. Legend might not be legendary, but it’s a fun ride nonetheless. Read our review here.
Part crimer, part sci-fi, Brick director Rian Johnson’s Looper is all head scratcher. That’s not to say this odd little tale of time travel and hired killings isn’t good… Far from it – it’s brilliant. But make sure you keep your brain engaged, only you’re gonna need it. Bruce Willis plays Joseph Gordon-Levitt as an older man, hired to kill himself – that’s the plot in a nutshell. Then things really gets weird…
When Paul Thomas Anderson makes a film, you go see it. It’s that simple. So when it was announced that he’d be adapting the seemingly unadaptable Thomas Pynchon novel Inherent Vice, people were excited. Literary fans were sceptical, though. How do you adapt the unadaptable? Well, Anderson managed it. Is it the easiest film to follow? Nope. In fact, the plot gets so muddled at some points it’s almost incoherent. Incoherent Vice, if you like. But with Anderson behind the camera and Joaquin Phoenix in front of it, it’s still eminently watchable and enjoyable. And a future cult classic, we reckon. Read our review here.
An Australian revenge flick that might well have gone under your radar, The Horseman is well worth catching. Devastated by the loss of his teenage daughter to an apparent drug overdose, quiet suburban dad Peter Marshall spirals into depression. Until a disturbing snuff film of his daughter’s rape and murder comes through the post. Then he embarks on a brutal vengeance mission with the aid of a young runaway girl with whom he strikes up an unlikely alliance. This is nasty stuff. A real hark back to the exploitation films of the 1970s.
We stay Down Under for this next Amazon Prime crime classic and find ourselves in the home of the Pettingill crime family, a real life rabble of thieves, violent drug dealers and human traffickers. The film features Guy Pearce and introduces the world to Joel Edgerton and Ben Mendelsohn. But it’s Jacki Deaver as the family’s matriarchal leader that really shines. Watch this. Then track down the US TV remake starring Ellen Barkin. In that order.
To France now and this French prison film is well worth streaming. It lasts an intimidating 155 minutes, but don’t let its lengthy running time put you off. The scope is necessary to truly illustrate the steep rise to infamy of Tamar Rahim’s petty criminal. He starts out a small time crook and ends up a real mob player. There’s a sustained energy to proceedings anyway, meaning even the most restless film fan will enjoy the ride.
Bonnie & Clyde
One of the most recognisable criminal couples ever (and the title of Serge Gainsbourg’s best song), Bonnie and Clyde’s fame is such that the duo took on almost mythical status in their time. The 1967 Arthur Penn movie about them was panned on its release, but is now – quite rightly – considered a Hollywood classic. Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway star as Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker. If you’ve not seen this, do. If you have seen this, watch it again.
God Bless America
You might know him as That Fella With The Funny Voice and Big Hair in Police Academy (Zed McGlunk), but did you know that comic actor Bobcat Goldthwait also makes films? And in God Bless America, he’s made one of the most damning and acerbic black comedies of the century so far. A dark story of social disdain, we follow our ‘hero’ as he and his sidekick, well, kill a whole bunch of people. ‘Deserving’ people, though. A diatribe against modern day pop culture, it’s wild and funny and more than a little mad.
An early outing for Martin Scorsese and his first collaboration with Robert de Niro, this tale of young hoods climbing the lower ranks of the Mafia in New York City also stars a pre-Direct Line insurance ads Harvey Keitel. It might not be Scorsese’s most polished work, but it proved to be one of his – and the 1970s’ – most influential. An entire generation of filmmakers attempted to ape Mean Streets after its release. But none managed to capture its raw energy and power.
With so many crime classics just a few button presses away, it’d be criminal to miss them…
Have we missed any of the best crime movies on Amazon Prime? Let us know in the comments below!