Looking to watch a movie with big crimes, lots of guns, and an unhealthy dose of profanity? Fuhgeddaboutit! We’re here to tell you about the best gangster movies on Netflix right now.
Netflix’s selection of gangster movies is robust, but a lot of the heavy hitters are missing. Goodfellas, the series of Godfather films, and The Departed are nowhere to be found on the service. However, there are some bonafide classics available as well as a few off-the-beaten-path gems you should definitely check out.
Best gangster movies on Netflix:
Editor’s note: We will update this list of the best gangster movies on Netflix regularly as films come and go from the service.
1. Public Enemies
The 1930s is generally regarded as the era where the modern gangster crimes began. One of the biggest gangsters was John Dillinger, who had a successful career robbing banks during that time period. This 2009 movie, directed by Heat’s Michael Mann, stars Johnny Depp as Dillinger, along with Christian Bale, who plays the FBI agent Melvin Purvis who is assigned to stop Dillinger and his gang. It’s definitely one of the best gangster movies on Netflix.
2. The Irishman
Nearly 20 years after Goodfellas, Scorsese and De Niro teamed up again for this 2019 Netflix original movie. It’s over three hours long, but it’s still very watchable. It’s based loosely on the real-life story of Frank Sheeran (De Niro), who served in World War II and later became a truck driver. In the end, he became a hitman for the mob and was involved with the late head of the Teamsters Union, Jimmy Hoffa.
When this movie was first released, much was written about how advanced technology was used to “de-age” De Niro and other members of the cast, as we watch their lives from World War II to nearly the present day. Thankfully, you don’t have to worry about visual effects overshadowing the story. The Irishman still works as an examination of the life of a mob hitman.
Lawless is a different kind of gangster movie. It doesn’t take place in the big city, but in rural Virgina during the 1930’s. In those days and locations, it was bootlegging that was the big moneymaker for crime. This story tells the true tale of the Bondurant brothers (played here by Tom Hardy, Shia LaBeouf, and Jason Clarke), who ran moonshine in the Virigina woods, trying to say one step ahead of the law. Look for Gary Oldman as well, playing another mobster, Floyd Banner.
4. Sin City
Based on the crime comic books written and drawn by Frank Miller, this 2005 adaptation tells the tales of several people who live in the crime-infested world of Sin City. They include a hitman who gets framed for murder, a private detective who gets caught in a mob war, and a police officer who is trying to stop a child murderer. The movie, co-written and directed by Miller and Robert Rodriguez, tries to replicate the nearly black-and-white artwork of the original comics in live-action. It mostly succeeds, thanks in part to an all-star cast of actors that include Bruce Willis, Jessica Alba, Benicio del Toro, Clive Owen, and many more. It’s one of the more unique gangster movies on Netflix.
5. Donnie Brasco
Johnny Depp stars in this 1997 movie based on true events. He plays Joseph D. Pistone, an FBI agent. In the 1970s, he is assigned to go deep undercover in the New York City Mafia crime organization, using the name Donnie Brasco. Later, he goes to Miami as “Donnie” takes over running a nightclub for the mob, while secretly wiretaping conversations. We see the character get in deep with the mob, and especially Lefty, played perfectly by Al Pacino.
6. Cardboard Gangsters
This Irish film — set and filmed in Ireland and even funded by an Irish government agency — was the most-viewed Irish film of 2017. It received numerous award nominations. Chances are good, though, that you’ve never heard of it. Now’s your chance to see what all the fuss is about!
Cardboard Gangsters tells the sometimes-funny, sometimes-horrifying story of young Irish drug dealers looking to dominate their neck of the woods. The film follows as these young, hot-headed upstarts get involved in matters way over their heads — with tragic consequences.
This film is in English but the Irish accents are thick and some slang terms are used that might be confusing. It is easily one of the best gangster movies on Netflix right now, but it still might be helpful to put the subtitles on for this one!
7. Once Upon A Time In London
As with the US, London saw the rise of gangsters in the 1930s. This 2019 gangster movie on Netflix focuses on two real crime lords in the city, Billy Hill and Jack ‘Spot’ Comer. The movie shows how these two people ruled organized crime in London from the 1930s through the 1950s.
8. A Most Violent Year
A couple tries to reach the American dream by building an oil company. Securing the needs of a business requires an exorbitant sum of money. The family soon finds itself involved in a world of violence and corruption. This J.C. Chandor film drags you into a complex era in New York City’s history.
9. Imperial Dreams
Netflix Original films are starting to grow in popularity and prestige. Imperial Dreams won the Audience Award at the 2014 Sundance Festival and has been a hit for the streaming company. It is no surprise Imperial Dreams had such success, as it follows popular themes such as mass incarceration, police racism, education, and the gang life. Reformed gangster Bambi leaves prison and returns to Watts, Los Angeles. Plenty of obstacles get in his way to rehabilitation.
This 2015 movie brings us Tom Hardy once again. He plays duel roles as both Ronnie and Reggie Kray. The real-life identical twin brothers were much-feared mobsters in London during the 1950s and 1960s. We witness their rise and fall as gangsters, until they finally get arrested and sentenced to life in prison in 1969.
Plenty more including scary, action, war movies, and the list goes on
That’s our collection of the best gangster movies on Netflix right now! We will update this list as new movies arrive — or, unfortunately, some of the films on this list leave the streaming service. However, there’s a ton of content you can stream on the service. Here are some of our other Netflix guides worth checking out: