The best gangster movies on Netflix
Looking to watch a movie with big crimes, a lot of guns, and tons 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 pretty robust, but a lot of the heavy hitters are missing. Goodfellas, the series of Godfather films, and The Departed, for example, 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.
Below is our list of the best gangster movies on Netflix! And remember: never rat on your friends, and always keep your mouth shut.
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. Once Upon A Time In America
Legendary Italian director Sergio Leone (The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly, countless other westerns) set out to make an epic crime drama with Once Upon A Time In America. Unfortunately, it ended up being his final film, and its original release was based on an unapproved cut. The movie flopped and was essentially forgotten about for decades.
Originally, Leone wanted the film to be over four hours long. He was convinced to cut the film down to 3 hours and 49 minutes, but the American distributors cut it down against his wishes to just over two hours, and also rearranged all the scenes.
Decades later, the true cut of the film — the 3 hours and 49 minutes version in the proper order — finally saw a release. It was received with critical acclaim with some referring to it as a masterpiece.
That cut, the true director’s cut, is what you can watch on Netflix. This is not only one of the best gangster movies on Netflix, but this is also one of the best gangster movies period.
Scarface isn’t just a movie: it’s a phenomenon. From the classic lines (“Say hello to my little friend!”) to the larger-than-life character of Tony Montana being heralded as a sort of hero in hip-hop culture, Scarface is the kind of movie that transcends film to become a cultural institution.
If for some reason you haven’t seen Scarface yet, it’s available in uncensored form on Netflix.
Keep in mind this movie is very violent, in some cases even disturbingly so. It’s also a divisive film, with some modern critics thinking it only was a success because it was a product of its time, and would be panned if it were to see a release today.
You’ll need to judge for yourself, but if you’re looking for the best gangster movies on Netflix, this is certainly one of them.
3. Pulp Fiction
Pulp Fiction may not be a “mob movie” in the strictest sense of the term since it doesn’t really involve the clichés of Italian mobsters in amazing suits. However, the film does focus primarily on two gangsters and their mob boss’ business endeavors, so it’s as much a gangster movie on Netflix as you can get.
The second film from acclaimed director Quentin Tarantino, Pulp Fiction tells three somewhat-related stories about California crime told in non-sequential order. Each story has a beginning, middle, and end, but how they all intertwine isn’t really clear until the final scenes. Even then, one story — The Gold Watch — seems a bit less connected to the other two.
If you haven’t seen Pulp Fiction, you are truly missing out. This is easily one of the best films of its decade and there are so many references and memes related to the movie that you’re doing yourself a disservice by skipping it.
4. Mean Streets
If one were to make a list of the greatest gangster movies of all time, chances are at least three of them would be from director Martin Scorsese (Goodfellas, Casino, and The Departed). Some lists would also include Mean Streets, which is not only the first gangster movie from Scorsese but also his first proper feature.
Based somewhat on Scorsese’s own life, Mean Streets tells the story of two Italian-Americans living in New York City. Each man has some sort of connection to organized crime with one reveling in it and one feeling conflicted by the unethical aspects of the job.
As usual with Scorsese, Catholicism — specifically Catholic guilt — plays a major part in the story. You’ll also see the beginnings of many of Scorsese’s trademark camera moves and dialog deliveries in Mean Streets.
If you’re a Scorsese fan, it’s worth taking a trip back in time to see how he got started. If you’re just looking for a good gangster movie on Netflix, you can’t go wrong with this, either.
Although most mob movies are serious with maybe a few comedic moments here and there, that doesn’t mean it needs to be that way. Snatch is a great example of making a pretty typical organized crime story into a straight-up comedic feature.
Directed by Guy Ritchie, Snatch tells two stories: one about the planned theft of a large diamond and the other about a small-time boxing promoter who reluctantly gets involved with a ruthless gangster. As with Pulp Fiction, the stories seem pretty separate — until they aren’t.
Unlike Pulp Fiction, though, this film is fast. It has such crazy energy that you might need to pause to catch your breath once in a while, or just to rewind to figure out what Brad Pitt’s character is saying.
If you check out this movie and dig it, be sure to watch the next film on this list, too, as they are closely related.
6. Lock, Stock, And Two Smoking Barrels
Lock, Stock, And Two Smoking Barrels is not a prequel or sequel to Snatch. However, it features the same style of direction, similar themes, and even a similar cast. It’s almost like director Guy Ritchie remade his own film when he set out to make Snatch.
That being said, though, Lock, Stock, And Two Smoking Barrels is not necessarily inferior to Snatch. It’s just impossible not to notice how similar the two films are.
In the movie, a young card shark runs afoul of a powerful crime lord in Britain. Since he now owes the mob boss 500,000 pounds, he and his friends decide to rob a gang who happen to live right next door. As you might expect, things don’t go as planned.
Be on the lookout for musician Sting in a small role and also dig the awesome 90s-era soundtrack!
7. Layer Cake
Layer Cake stars Daniel Craig, the man who would eventually take up the James Bond mantle from Pierce Brosnan. The first Bond film with Craig as the lead came out in 2006, but in 2004 when Layer Cake saw its release, he was relatively unknown.
Watching Layer Cake now, it’s easy to see how Craig’s acting in this film was probably a big reason why he was chosen to play Bond. He comes across as smart, intuitive, dangerous, and alluring in this role — everything you need from a good Bond.
Layer Cake is directed by Matthew Vaughan, who would go on to direct the series of Kingsman movies. He also produced both Snatch and Lock, Stock, And Two Smoking Barrels, making all these films kind of like an interesting little trilogy.
If you’re a Bond fan and looking for more Daniel Craig to watch, you can’t go wrong with Layer Cake. See how it all began here!
8. In Order Of Disappearance
Have you seen the Liam Neeson film Cold Pursuit? Well, that film is actually an American remake of this Norwegian crime thriller. Both films are even helmed by the same director!
As with Cold Pursuit, the story of In Order Of Disappearance (or Kraftidioten in Norwegian) centers on a snowplow driver who lives a happy, carefree life. That happiness is shattered by the death of his son in an apparent drug-related suicide.
The snowplow driver doesn’t believe his son killed himself nor that he was doing drugs, and it turns out he’s right. This starts a chain of events where the snowplow driver goes on a revenge spree through the underground world of Norwegian drug dealers.
Interestingly, this movie is actually a comedy. The comedy is very dark but it still has some incredibly funny moments.
9. 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 and has a 94 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Chances are good, though, that you’ve never heard of it. Well, 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!
10. In Bruges
OK, we will admit that this last film barely counts as a gangster movie. There’s no mafia, there are no Italians, there are no drug deals, and it doesn’t follow the traditional “get rich or die trying” formula of most mob films.
But hey, it has a lot of guns, a lot of profanity, and centers on two guys who kill people for money. That’s a gangster movie in our book!
Besides, In Bruges is easily one of the best movies of the past twenty years. It’s funny, touching, unique, and held together well by an amazing cast, which includes a pre-Game Of Thrones Peter Dinklage. It also features one of the best ever foot chase scenes toward the end of the film.
Those of you reading this who have seen In Bruges likely are chuckling and thinking about rewatching the movie for the hundredth time. Those who haven’t seen it don’t know what you’re missing!
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.