Oliver Lyttelton and The Playlist recently posted their choices for The 50 Best Crime Movies Of The 21st Century So Far. Here are three of my favorites…
4. “No Country For Old Men” (2007)
Even knowing the high quality of the Coen Brothers’ work in general, and knowing their love for crime fiction, no one was quite prepared for “No Country For Old Men.” Their first adaptation (it’s adapted from Cormac McCarthy’s novel), it maintained the greatest qualities of their earlier work — dry wit, careful plotting, unforgettable characters, bursts of ultraviolence — but with a darker, more apocalyptic mood than ever before. Even though its story of the aftermath of a drug deal gone wrong, and the men pursuing the money that Llewellyn Moss (Josh Brolin) has taken, is set in 1980s Texas, it somehow feels predictive of the world that we’ve ended up in a decade later in some strange ways, and we’re sure it’ll only continue to resonate further over time.
33. “John Wick” (2014)/“John Wick: Chapter 2” (2017)
We couldn’t pick between the two Keanu Reeves-reviving badass-fests here: the first has a purity to it, plus Willem Dafoe and that adorable puppy for the first reel, the second embellishes and extrapolates the film’s strange world and amps the arthouse-action vibe up to eleven. And while they’re action movies first and foremost, they’re also definitely crime films, Chad Stahelski and David Leitch building a fascinating pulp-comic-book underworld more compelling, and full of more intriguing characters and rules, than we’ve seen in this genre for a while. Plus, of course, it has Reeves at his taciturn, quietly psychotic best, it looks beautiful, and it has some of the best shootout sequences since Sam Peckinpah shuffled off the mortal coil. Bring on ‘Chapter 3,’ as soon as humanly possible.
39. “A History Of Violence” (2005)
The first and best of the two crime pics that David Cronenberg and Viggo Mortensen made together back-to-back, “A History Of Violence” doesn’t initially seem like the sort of thing that the body-horror master would make, but like its lead character, soon reveals itself to have all kinds lurking under the surface. Based on a graphic novel, it sees Tom, a seemingly ordinary family man (Mortensen) praised as a hero after killing two men trying to rob his diner, only for a mysterious, scarred criminal (Ed Harris) to turn up and claim that Tom has a past, and that these were far from the first people he’d killed. Cronenberg and his cast (particularly William Hurt, whose Oscar-nominated supporting turn can practically be seen from space) don’t hide from the comic book nature of the material, but for all the ultraviolence (and two of the most narratively effective sex scenes in history), there’s something deeply human here, about an attempt to escape your nature, and whether there really are second acts in American life.