A good gangster movie must do two things: Make us want to live a life of crime and, at the same time, make us grateful we haven’t indulged our dark sides like the characters on this list. Most gangster films make the criminal underworld look like a hell of a good time. There’s booze, money, women, expensive cars, everything we’re taught we should want, but the lavish lifestyle often comes with a price, which means a good gangster movie must also show us the downside of running a criminal empire: The violence, the bloodshed, and the very real threat of prison time. As they say, you can’t have your cake and eat it too — but no one told that to the characters in these films.
Here are the 10 most enjoyable films currently streaming on Netflix.
Run Time: 170 min | IMDb: 8.3/10
Al Pacino stars in this over-the-top crime thriller that’s spawned plenty of memes on Twitter over the years. The gist of the story: Pacino plays Tony, a Cuban refugee who works his way up the ranks of a Miami cartel, eventually murdering his way to the top, stealing his boss’ wife (Michelle Pfeiffer). and becoming a drug kingpin with a worrisome cocaine addiction. The real draw is knowing Pacino will be swimming in nose candy for a good part of the film, shooting down his own henchmen, and uttering some ridiculously macho lines in the process.
A Most Violent Year (2014)
Run Time: 125 min | IMDb: 7/10
Jessica Chastain and Oscar Isaac play a husband/wife duo caught up in the criminal underground in this darkly-lit drama. Isaac plays Abel Morales, an immigrant and aspiring business owner who finds himself the target of ruthless competitors when he takes steps to secure a facility to transport oil throughout the boroughs. Chastain plays his wife Anna, a shrewd businesswoman in her own right who comes from a mobster family. The two fights against a determined D.A. and corrupt criminals in order to secure the money they need to purchase the land, but in doing so, they become the enemy they’ve been fighting against. It’s a heavy, morose kind of film, filled with violence and shady back-door dealings, but Chastain and Isaac bring a bit of brilliance to it all.