Gangsters, mobsters, and crime bosses, oh my. A genre born out of the dark world of organized crime, gangster movies have been thrilling audiences for years. Ripe with violence and crime, mobster films never fail to entertain.
With everything from classic mob flicks to international crime fare, here are the best gangster movies on Netflix. Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.
Kill the Irishman
An adaptation of To Kill the Irishman: The War That Crippled the Mafia, Kill the Irishman is based on the life of Irish-American gangster Danny Greene (Ray Stevenson). Greene, a corrupt longshoreman, is elected to serve as the president of the dock workers’ union, but his rise to power leads to his criminal activities being exposed. After receiving a plea bargain, Greene rises through the ranks of Cleveland’s underworld. Despite his growing list of criminal ties, Greene tries his best to help Irish-Americans in need, earning the nickname “The Robin Hood of Collinwood.” As his list of his allies grows, so does his list of enemies.
Riphagen is based on the true story of Dries Riphagen, a Dutch gangster who collaborated with the Nazis. Riphagen was responsible for sending many Jewish people to concentration camps, all while conning them into giving him their belongings in the process. Starring Jeroen van Koningsbrugge as the titular character, the film tells the story of Riphagen’s cons, crimes, and betrayals, following him through the aftermath of the war. Unfortunately, the collaborator and criminal was never brought to justice for the hundreds of deaths he caused. This new addition to Netflix is as entertaining as it is disturbing.
One of Quentin Tarantino’s lesser-known films, Jackie Brown is an adaptation on Elmore Leonard’s Rum Punch. Jackie Brown (Pam Grier) is a flight attendant who uses her job as a cover to smuggle money from Mexico to the U.S. for gangster Ordell Robbie (Samuel L. Jackson). When one of Ordell's lackeys is arrested, he reveals Jackie’s secret to the authorities. She is arrested and refuses to cut a deal. Ordell fears she will turn on him and attempts to kill her but is caught off guard when she pulls out a gun in return. Refusing to take sides, Jackie is thinking only of herself and how she could take off with the money. In Jackie Brown, Tarantino puts his own spin on the classic gangster film.
Based on Nicolai Lilin’s semi-autobiographical novel Siberian Education: Growing Up in a Criminal Underworld, Deadly Code is the story of two young boys, Kolyma (Arnas Fedaravicius) and Gagarin (Vilius Tumalavicius), who are raised by Koylma’s grandfather (John Malkovich). They live in a secluded area of Siberia where a group of criminals lives by their own moral code. In this lawless region, women, children, and animals are off-limits, but basically everything else is fair game. Gagarin is eventually caught and imprisoned. When he is released, he finds that everything has changed–and he is now at odds with Kolyma.
Gangs of New York
Martin Scorsese’s sweeping historic gangster flick Gangs of New York focuses on Amsterdam Vallon (Leonardo DiCaprio), the son of Priest Vallon (Liam Neeson). Priest is the boss of a Irish Catholic gang. When the patriarch is murdered, young Amsterdam is sent to an orphanage. Sixteen years later, Amsterdam returns to the Five Points district in New York City to avenge his father’s murder. His father’s murderer, William "Bill the Butcher" Cutting (Daniel Day-Lewis), is the leader of the rival gang and now controls the entirely of the Five Points. Knowing that the only way to get vengeance is by penetrating Bill's inner circle, Amsterdam develops an elaborate plot to grow close to the dangerous leader. A combination of a classic crime film and a period drama, Gangs of New York tells a grand and gripping story of revenge and weaves in the social issues of 1860s New York City.
One of Martin Scorsese's earliest films, 1973's Mean Streets also marks the first time Scorsese worked with Robert De Niro. The gritty picture follows a low-level gangster in New York's Little Italy named Charlie (played by Harvey Keitel). Charlie's dead set on making a name for himself in the criminal underworld. But he's also a man torn between his ambition and personal affairs, from his secret relationship with Teresa and his crisis of faith to his doomed relationship with the erratic Johnny Boy (Robert De Niro).
Twenty-five years after it first exploded onto the screen in 1994, Quentin Tarantino's hyper-stylized, hyper-violent crime movie remains as thrilling as ever. A series of interconnecting vignettes play out across the streets of greater Los Angeles, from a pair of philosophical hitmen on their way to complete a job to a washed-up boxer looking for one last score and two skittish robbers trying to hold up a diner.
Featured still from "The Godfather: Part II" via Paramount Pictures