From big-budget spectacles to low-budget shoot-'em-ups, the crime genre is one of the more popular forms of action films offered to audiences. Kino Lorber
Yet for every classic crime flick, there are a handful of thrillers that don't quite hit their target at the box office or with audiences. Luckily, time heals all wounds, and it's about time these 24 underrated crime thrillers get the attention they deserve.
1. Cop Car
Before he entered Marvel and Sony's Spider-Verse, Jon Watts directed this intense minimalist thriller about two kids (James Freedson-Jackson and Hays Wellford) who stumble upon a seemingly abandoned cop car that holds the key to a shocking crime orchestrated by a local corrupt sheriff (Kevin Bacon).
Where to Watch: Cop Car is available to rent on all video-on-demand platforms. Focus Features / Courtesy Everett Collection 2. The Seven-Ups
Between his iconic roles in
The French Connection and Jaws, Roy Scheider starred in this captivating mystery-thriller about an unscrupulous yet effective detective who must solve a rash of kidnappings targeting prominent figures of the mafia. Where to Watch: The Seven-Ups is available for purchase on DVD and Blu-ray. 20th Century Fox Film Corp. / Courtesy Everett Collection 3. Love and a .45
Gil Bellows, Renée Zellweger, Rory Cochrane, Jeffrey Combs, and Jack Nance star in this stylish and off-beat blue collar thriller about a small-time stick-up artist who goes on the run with his fiancé after killing a pair of dirty cops, with a pair of eccentric goons and a drug-addicted ex-partner hot on their trail.
Where to Watch: Love and a .45 is available to rent on all video-on-demand platforms. Prod.DB / Trimark Pictures / Alamy 4. Den of Thieves
Gerard Butler, Pablo Schrieber, Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson, and O'Shea Jackson Jr. headline this fun modern spin on
Heat that pits an elite crime task force against a tactical gang of ex-military bank robbers. Where to Watch: Den of Thieves is available to stream on Netflix. STX Entertainment / Courtesy Everett Collection 5. Cop Land
James Mangold's star-studded dramatic thriller follows a meek sheriff (an against-type Sylvester Stallone) who must choose whether to expose the dark underbelly of a suburban town primarily populated by NYPD officers.
Where to Watch: Cop Land is available to stream on HBO Max. Miramax / Courtesy Everett Collection 6. Trance Slumdog Millionaire director Danny Boyle constructed this twisty thriller about a volatile criminal (Vincent Cassel) who tasks a hypnotherapist (Rosario Dawson) with extracting the location of a missing stolen painting from an amnesiac thief (James McAvoy). Where to Watch: Trance is available to rent on all video-on-demand platforms. Fox Searchlight / Courtesy Everett Collection 7. Stander
Thomas Jane stars in this incredible true story about a South African police captain, disillusioned with apartheid, who spontaneously decides to begin robbing banks utilizing undercover disguises from his precinct.
Where to Watch: Stander is available to stream on Amazon Prime, Tubi, and Starz. Newmarket Releasing/ Courtesy Everett Collection 8. Widows
Oddly forgotten despite being a critical and commercial success in late 2018,
12 Years a Slave director Steve McQueen's spellbinding thriller follows four widows (Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki, and Cynthia Erivo) of recently deceased thieves who must pull off a dangerous heist to pay back the substantial criminal debt left by their husbands. Where to Watch: Widows is available to stream on FXNOW. Twentieth Century Fox / Courtesy Everett Collection 9. Killing Zoe
Directed by the co-writer of
Pulp Fiction, this chaotic and ultra-violent drama follows an American safe cracker (Eric Stoltz) who travels to Paris to help an old friend with a bank heist, only to discover one of the tellers is a call girl with whom he slept the night prior. Where to Watch: Killing Zoe is available to rent and purchase via Vudu. October Films / Courtesy Everett Collection 10. The Lookout
The directorial debut of Scott Frank, who would later find success as the co-creator of
The Queen's Gambit, The Lookout surrounds a traumatized young night janitor (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) for a small-town bank who reluctantly joins a gang of amateur criminals for a robbery that goes horribly awry. Where to Watch: The Lookout is available to rent on all video-on-demand platforms. Miramax / Courtesy Everett Collection 11. Harry Brown
Largely overlooked in the wake of the post-
Taken boom of action movies with older acting veterans as unlikely leads, Harry Brown is a vigilante thriller about an elderly ex-soldier (Michael Caine) who decides to dish out justice to local hoodlums responsible for killing his best friend in a senseless act of violence. Where to Watch: Harry Brown is available to stream on Amazon Prime, Tubi, and Vudu. Samuel Goldwyn Films / Courtesy Everett Collection 12. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia
Widely considered to be the last masterpiece of gritty action pioneer Sam Peckinpah,
Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia follows a rugged mercenary (Warren Oates) who is hired by a vengeful crime boss to find and retrieve the head of a wanted criminal with whom he shares an uneasy connection. Where to Watch: Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia is available on DVD/Blu-ray. United Artists / Courtesy Everett Collection 13. Stray Bullets
A taut indie thriller elevated by multiple strong performances,
Stray Bullets surrounds a pair of teenagers (Asa Spurlock and director Jack Fessenden) who are tasked with cleaning an old RV in which three dangerous fugitives have taken shelter. Where to Watch: Stray Bullets is available to stream on Vudu. Screen Media Films / Courtesy Everett Collection 14. Red Rock West
Starring Nicolas Cage, Lara Flynn Boyle, and Dennis Hopper, this modern noir about mistaken identities and hired killers remains one of the most underrated suspense thrillers of its time.
Where to Watch: Red Rock West is currently available on DVD. Roxie Releasing / Courtesy Everett Collection 15. State of Grace
This excellent ensemble crime thriller, which follows an undercover cop and his erratic childhood friend as they find themselves entangled in New York City's treacherous Irish crime syndicate, was sadly overshadowed by
Goodfellas during its initial release in 1990. Where to Watch: State of Grace is available on DVD/Blu-ray. Orion Pictures Corp / Courtesy Everett Collection 16. The Standoff at Sparrow Creek
In this breathtaking thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat from start to finish, James Badge Dale stars as a jaded ex-cop who must uncover which member of his fringe, anti-government militia group is responsible for a mass shooting at a policeman's funeral.
Where to Watch: The Standoff at Sparrow Creek is available to rent on all video-on-demand platforms. RLJE Films / Courtesy Everett Collection 17. The Iceman
Based on an unsettling true story, this bloody thriller starring Michael Shannon, Chris Evans, and Winona Ryder tells the tale of sadistic contract killer Richard Kuklinski, who would notably hide his victims remains in an ice cream truck as to prevent police from accurately learning their time of death.
Where to Watch: The Iceman is available to stream on Peacock, Tubi, the Roku Channel, Vudu, and Amazon Prime. Millennium Entertainment / Alamy 18. Narc
Ray Liotta revitalized his career with his transformative performance in Joe Carnahan's provocative and gripping crime thriller about a pair of haunted, ethically-compromised detectives investigating the murder of an undercover officer.
Where to Watch: Narc is streaming on Showtime. Paramount / Courtesy Everett Collection 19. Layer Cake
Daniel Craig proved himself capable as a leading man (and James Bond, for that matter) as an ambitious drug trafficker who hopes to leave the criminal world behind in Matthew Vaughn's rich and unconventional gangster picture.
Where to Watch: Layer Cake is available to stream on Showtime. Sony Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection 20. The Place Beyond the Pines
Ryan Gosling, Eva Mendes, Bradley Cooper, and Dane DeHaan star in this compelling triptych about the intertwined destinies of a rebellious bank robber, a guilt-stricken cop, and their troubled children.
Where to Watch: The Place Beyond the Pines is streaming on Peacock. Focus Features / Courtesy Everett Collection 21. Johnny Handsome
Walter Hill's sensational story of a disfigured criminal (Mickey Rourke) who is double crossed by his partners and plots out his revenge after receiving experimental plastic surgery that makes him completely unrecognizable.
Where to Watch: Johnny Handsome is available to rent on all video-on-demand platforms. Tristar Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection 22. Let the Corpses Tan
Taking inspiration from their neo-giallo roots, directors Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani deliver their best work to date with a pulse-pounding story of an artist and her lovers at a secluded estate that becomes an impromptu battlefield between two police officers and a collective of violent gold thieves.
Where to Watch: Let the Corpses Tan is available to stream on Tubi, the Roku Channel, and Plex. Kino Lorber / Courtesy Everett Collection 23. Brooklyn’s Finest
One of the more underrated films from
Training Day director Antoine Fuqua, Brooklyn’s Finest follows a trio of desperate NYPD detectives (Ethan Hawke, Don Cheadle, and Richard Gere) who struggle to maintain their moral compass as their personal and professional lives fall into chaos. Where to Watch: Brooklyn’s Finest is available to stream on HBO Max. Overture Films / Courtesy Everett Collection 24. Cold in July
Michael C. Hall, Sam Shepard, and Don Johnson are nothing short of stellar in Jim Mickle's unpredictable and riveting story of an ordinary man who accidentally kills a home intruder, which puts him in the path of the man's vengeful father and a charismatic private investigator while setting up a chain of events that will leave your jaw firmly on the floor.
Where to Watch: Cold in July is available to stream on AMC+. IFC Films / Courtesy Everett Collection