The 40 Best Crime Movies That'll Bring Out Your Inner Detective
It’s no secret that crime films are among the most compelling movies in Hollywood. Perhaps it’s how they balance the action with more serious themes, like seedy politics, racism and corruption in the criminal justice system. Or maybe it’s just the thrill of seeing how criminal masterminds manage to execute their plans. Either way, they all make for the most fascinating stories, which is why we rounded up 40 of the best crime movies you can stream right now. Get ready to put those detective skills to work.
1. ‘The Devil All the Time’ (2020)
From a spider-obsessed pastor to a murderous couple, there's no shortage of bizarre and sinister characters in this thriller. Set right after World War II, the movie centers on a troubled veteran who tries to protect his loved ones in a corrupt town. Tom Holland, Jason Clarke, Sebastian Stan and Robert Pattinson star in the film.
2. ‘The Informer’ (2019)
Based on Roslund & Hellström's novel, Three Seconds, this British crime thriller follows Pete Koslow (Joel Kinnaman), a former special ops soldier and ex-convict who goes undercover to infiltrate the Polish mob's drug trade. This involves heading back to prison, but things get complicated when a major drug deal goes wrong. Other cast members include Rosamund Pike, Common and Ana de Armas.
3. ‘I Care a Lot’ (2020)
Count on Rosamund Pike to embody the cold and calculated antagonist. In I Care a Lot, she plays Marla Grayson, a selfish legal guardian (Pike) who swindles her elderly “clients” for personal gain. She finds herself in a sticky situation, however, when she attempts to con the seemingly innocent Jennifer Peterson (Dianne Wiest).
4. ‘Promising Young Woman’ (2020)
Carey Mulligan is simply captivating as Cassie Thomas, a cunning med-school dropout who leads a secret double. Though years have passed since her best friend committed suicide after being raped, Cassie exacts her revenge on all the people who were involved in the incident and its aftermath.
6. ‘Murder on the Orient Express’ (2017)
Buckle up, because this mystery thriller will have you guessing at every turn. The film follows Hercule Poirot (Kenneth Branagh), a famous detective who works to solve a murder on the luxury Orient Express train service. Can he crack the case before the killer choses their next victim?
7. ‘Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile’ (2019)
This chilling crime drama follows the life of serial killer Ted Bundy, who was sentenced to death for assaulting and murdering several women and girls during the '70s. Zac Efron portrays the late criminal while Lily Collins plays his girlfriend, Elizabeth Kendall.
8. ‘BlacKkKlansman’ (2018)
In this Spike Lee joint, John David Washington is Ron Stallworth, the first African-American detective in the Colorado Springs Police Department. His plan? To infiltrate and expose a local chapter of the Ku Klux Klan. Expect some hard-hitting commentary about racism in America.
9. ‘Lawless’ (2012)
Based on Matt Bondurant's novel, The Wettest County in the World, Lawless tells the story of the Bondurants, three successful bootlegging brothers who become a target when greedy cops demand a cut of their profits. The cast includes Shia LaBeouf, Tom Hardy, Gary Oldman and Mia Wasikowska.
11. ‘Rahasya’ (2015)
When Dr. Sachin Mahajan's (Ashish Vidyarthi) 18-year-old daughter is found dead in his home, all evidence suggests that he is the killer. Dr. Sachin insists that he’s innocent, but as the authorities continue to investigate, they uncover some dark family secrets.
12. ‘Bonnie and Clyde’ (1967)
Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway star as the notorious crime couple Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, who fall in love and embark on a wild crime spree during the Depression. Known for its groundbreaking depiction of graphic violence in the '60s, it won two Academy Awards, including Best Cinematography and Best Supporting Actress (for Estelle Parsons)
13. ‘Mother’ (2009)
A widow (Kim Hye-ja) is forced to take an investigation into her own hands when her son who is disabled is wrongfully suspected of murdering a young girl. But can she successfully clear her son’s name?
14. ‘At the End of the Tunnel’ (2016)
When Joaquin (Leonardo Sbaraglia), a computer engineer who is paraplegic, overhears voices in his basement, he quietly installs a camera and microphone into the wall, eventually learning that they’re the voices of criminals who intend to dig a tunnel and rob a nearby bank.
15. ‘Set It Off’ (1996)
One moment it feels like an action-packed heist film and the next, it’s more like a poignant drama, tackling themes like systemic racism, misogynoir and police violence. This critically acclaimed film, directed by F. Gary Gray, follows a group of four tight-knit friends who decide to rob a string of banks together, due to their financial insecurity. The cast includes Jada Pinket Smith, Vivica A. Fox, Kimberly Elise and Queen Latifah.
16. ‘Menace II Society’ (1993)
Tyrin Turner stars as 18-year-old Caine Lawson, who intends to leave the projects in L.A. and start a new life without violence and crime. But even with the help of his loved ones, getting out is no easy feat. The film tackles a lot of important themes, including drug use and teenage violence.
17. ‘The Gangster, The Cop, The Devil’ (2019)
Up for a fast-paced crime thriller that'll keep you guessing at every turn? This one's for you. After Jang Dong-su (Don Lee) barely survives an attempt at his life, he forms an unlikely partnership with Detective Jung Tae-seok (Kim Moo Yul) to catch the killer who targeted him.
18. ‘Blow Out’ (1981)
When Jack Terry (John Trovola), a sound technician who works on low-budget films, accidentally captures the sound of what appears to be a gunshot during a taping, he begins to suspect that it may have been a tire blow-out... Or the sound of a politician's assassination.
19. ‘American Gangster’ (2007)
In this fictionalized account of Frank Lucas's criminal career, Denzel Washington portrays the corrupt drug trafficker, who becomes the most successful crime lord in Harlem. Meanwhile, an outcast cop whose partner overdoses on heroin is determined to bring Frank to justice.
20. ‘Talvar’ (2015)
Based on the controversial 2008 Noida double murder case, Talvar follows the investigation into the deaths of a young girl and her family's servant. The prime suspects? The young girl's parents.
21. ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ (2013)
Fun fact: This movie currently holds the Guinness World Record for most instances of swearing in a film (the f-bomb is used a whopping 569 times), so you might want to skip if you’re more sensitive to heavy profanity. Leonardo DiCaprio stars as real-life former stockbroker Jordan Belfort, who's known for running an extremely corrupt firm and committing fraud on Wall Street.
22. ‘Training Day’ (2001)
This action-packed drama earned Denzel Washington an Academy Award for Best Actor and Ethan Hawke a nomination for Best Supporting Actor, so you can expect to see some powerful performances. Training Day follows newbie Officer Jake Hoyt (Hawke) and seasoned narcotics officer, Alonzo Harris (Washington), work together over one long—very long—day.
23. ‘Scarface’ (1983)
It would be a crime not to include the cult classic that inspired countless references in pop culture. Set during the ‘80s, this crime drama revolves around Cuban refugee Tony Montana (Al Pacino), who goes from being a poor dishwasher to becoming one of the most powerful drug lords in Miami.
24. ‘Once Upon a Time in America’ (1984)
Adapted from Harry Grey's novel of the same title, Sergio Leone’s crime drama unfolds through a series of flashbacks, where close friends David "Noodles" Aaronson (Robert De Niro) and Max (James Woods) lead a life of organized crime during the Prohibition era.
25. ‘Detroit’ (2017)
It's not easy viewing, but given that these horrifying events occured not too long ago (1967, to be exact), it certainly feels like required viewing. Based on the Algiers Motel incident during the 12th Street Riot in Detroit, this film chronicles the events that led up to the killing of three unarmed civilians.
26. ‘Collateral’ (2004)
When Max (Jamie Foxx), an L.A. cab driver, gets offered a hefty sum from driving his customer, Vincent (Tom Cruise) to multiple locations, he soon realizes that this deal could end up costing him his life. After learning that his client is a ruthless hitman, he gets involved in a police chase and gets held hostage. Definitely not a typical night for a taxi driver.
27. ‘The Maltese Falcon’ (1941)
Based on Dashiell Hammett’s novel of the same name, this classic movie follows private investigator Sam Spade (Humphrey Bogart) who embarks on a quest for a valuable statue. Often labeled one of the greatest films of all time, The Maltese Falcon was nominated for three Academy Awards, including Best Picture.
28. ‘The Godfather’ (1972)
When Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando), don of the Corleone crime family, narrowly survives a murder attempt, his youngest son, Michael (Al Pacino), steps up and begins his transformation into a cruel mafia boss. Not only did it win the Oscar for Best Picture, but it's also considered the second-greatest American film of all time.
29. ‘Compliance’ (2012)
Based on a series of real-life strip search scams that occured in the U.S., this chilling thriller centers on a Kentucky restaurant manager named Sandra (Ann Dowd), who receives a call from someone claiming to be a police officer. After the caller gains her trust, he convinces her to carry out a number of bizarre and unlawful tasks.
30. ‘Traffic’ (2000)
If you've ever seen the British Channel 4 series, Traffik, then you'll especially appreciate this adaptation. Through interconnected storylines, the film takes a deeper look at America's corruption and the illegal drug trade. It actually won four Oscars and the star-studded cast includes Don Cheadle, Benicio Del Toro, Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones.
31. ‘The Fury of a Patient Man’ (2016)
Set in Madrid, this creepy thriller centers on José (Antonio de la Torre), a seemingly harmless stranger who turns the lives of ex-convict Curro (Luis Callejo) and his family upside down.
32. ‘Raat Akeli Hai’ (2020)
When a wealthy man is found dead in his home, Inspector Jatil Yadav (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) is called to investigate. But due to the victim's extremely secretive family, Jatil realizes that he’ll have to come up with a creative new way to solve this case.
33. ‘L.A. Confidential’ (1997)
Lauded as one of the greatest films ever made, this Oscar-winning film follows three L.A. police officers who take on a famous case in the 1950s, but as they dig deeper they discover evidence of corruption surrounding the murder. The intricate plot and smart dialogue will pull you in from the very beginning.
34. ‘Badla’ (2019)
When Naina Sethi (Taapsee Pannu), a successful businesswoman, gets arrested fir the murder of her lover, she hires a big-shot attorney to help prove her innocence. But trying to figure out what actually happened proves to be more complicated than they anticipated. (If the premise sounds familiar, that’s because it’s also a remake of the Spanish mystery, The Invisible Guest).
35. ‘21 Bridges’ (2019)
Black Panther’s Chadwick Boseman plays an NYPD detective named Andre Davis, who shuts down all 21 of Manhattan’s bridges in order to capture two criminals who escaped after murdering cops. But the closer he gets to catching these men, the sooner he learns that there’s more to these murders than meets the eye.
36. ‘The Gentlemen’ (2019)
Matthew McConaughey stars as marijuana kingpin Mickey Pearson. He tries to sell his lucrative business, but this only prompts a chain of schemes and plots from devious characters who want to steal his domain. In case you need even more reason to watch, the cast is phenomenal. Charlie Hunnam, Jeremy Strong, Colin Farrell and Henry Golding (Crazy Rich Asians) star.
37. ‘New Jack City’ (1991)
Wesley Snipes, Ice-T, Allen Payne and Chris Rock all star in Mario Van Peebles's directorial debut, which follows a detective who tries to take down a rising drug lord during the crack epidemic in New York. With its compelling storyline and talented cast, it comes as no surprise that it was the highest-grossing independent film of 1991.
38. ‘No Mercy’ (2010)
Forensic pathologist Kang Min-ho decides to take on one last case before he retires, but things get personal when a sadistic killer threatens to murder his daughter. Brace yourself for a shocking twist that'll have you completely floored.
39. ‘Capone’ (2020)
Tom Hardy stars as real-life gangster Al Capone in this gripping biographical film, which details the crime boss's life after his 11-year sentence at Atlanta Penitentiary. Hardy delivers a powerful performance here.
40. ‘Pulp Fiction’ (1994)
The Academy Award-winning black comedy still stands as one of the best films ever made and it's easy to see why. Known for striking an impressive balance between dark humor and violence, Pulp Fiction follows the interwoven storylines of three characters, including hitman Vincent Vega (John Travolta), his business partner Jules Winnfield (Samuel L. Jackson), and prizefighter Butch Coolidge (Bruce Willis).