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Best Cinema - Top 10 Crime Thrillers (5-1)

By Edited Dec 3, 2015 2 0

Continuing with my list of the Top 10 Crime Thrillers, this second part focus on the more action-oriented thrillers that deal with the conflict between police forces and criminal organizations, also sometimes mentioned as cop thrillers. These movies receive a great deal of attention, athough they have been being overshadowed in the last years by more extravagant action blockbusters like superhero or fantasy movies. Despite that fact, I still look at this type of movies as the "typical" movie. Many of them are among my favorites of all time for their superiorly crafted storylines, as you will have the oppotunity to see in this article.  

Collateral

(2004)

Now here is a movie where I actually like to see Tom Cruise! Collateral was quite a surprise to me, since its premise was unusual, and the movie felt unique and refreshing. It is an action-thriller, where dialogue and character development take a large chunk of the film. 

Collateral

Collateral follows the story of a cab driver, who during an evening that was running quite well, picks up an intriguing man, asking him to be his only fare for the rest of the night. In exchange for a nice sum, he is to be taken to five different locations, and taken to the airport at the end of the job. What the cab driver didn't know, is that this man was a contracted killer, and the locations were the actual targets.

The movie develops around the relationship that is formed between the cab driver who becomes the hostage, and the contract killer who finds himself bonding with his victim. There is great action through the course of the movie, as not everything goes according to plan, and there is an investigation closing-in as the body count rises. The twist at the end may seem cliché for some, but I found it to be well executed, as it brought a new level of tension, excitement, and a conclusion to the main characters' unusual relationship. 

My Score: 8/10

Collateral
Amazon Price: $2.99 Buy Now
(price as of Dec 3, 2015)
Starring: Tom Cruise, Jamie Foxx
Directed by: Michael Mann
Runtime: 2 hours
Release year: 2004
Studio: Paramount

The Departed

(2006)

The Departed, the gangster movie that finally gave Scorsese the much-deserved Oscar. Though there were better movies of his that should have been recognized, this movie was really one of the best of its year. The Departed is an engaging movie about the war between the Irish-American organized crime and the police force, and the two men that got caught in the middle. Is is a story of violence, complicated jobs, and even more complicated relationships.

The Departed

Leonardo DiCaprio plays the role of the undercover persevering cop working for the mob, and Matt Damon the bright young criminal climbing the ranks of the force. Scorsese is a master storyteller and filmmaker when it comes to showcasing the world of police corruption and organized crime through the screen. The way he pictures both worlds and their unavoidable clashings, just makes it seem so real it's scary.

In The Departed, the two men that are "playing" for the enemy, eventually come to the realization that there's a rat in the organization, and must race to uncover each other's identity, before their own skin becomes exposed. There is much dialogue, intrigue and conspiracy in The Departed, and although this is a movie that lacks some of the drama or "action" of Scorsese's other crime epics, it makes up for the realism, brutality and detail of the narrative. Just sit back prepared for a hard journey through harsh worlds, psychological battles of wits, injustice and shocking realities.

My Score: 8/10

The Departed
Amazon Price: $2.99 Buy Now
(price as of Dec 3, 2015)
Starring: Leonardo Dicaprio, Matt Damon
Directed by: Martin Scorsese
Runtime: 2 hours 32 minutes
Release year: 2006
Studio: Warner Bros.

L.A. Confidential

(1997)

L.A. Confidential was recommended to me by a friend, and was a late watch on my part. It is a well-known cop-thriller with a fantastic casting, a story surrounding a series of crimes in LA, the takes of three different cops on the case, and a very unpredictable direction.

L.A. Confidential

The murders that have been happening garnered a lot of attention, including that of a cop seeking justice even if he has to break the rules; the son of a legend who has to live up to the name of his father; and the cop celebrity always on the search for more fame and money. The main point of interest in the movie is watching the conflicting interests of everyone involved in the cases, since not everyone follows the same path, or have the same values.

Through a mix of mystery, unsolved crimes and police corruption, you can only watch in awe where the movie takes you. The darkest sides of both worlds, crime and justice, will unequivocally come at the surface, revealing secrets and shocking truths, that will affect the lives of everyone who intentionally or not, fell into the web of the LA underworld.

 My Score:8/10

L.A. Confidential
Amazon Price: $2.99 Buy Now
(price as of Dec 3, 2015)
Starring: Kevin Spacey, Russell Crowe
Directed by: Curtis Hanson
Runtime: 2 hours 18 minutes
Release year: 1997
Studio: Warner Bros.

The Usual Suspects

(1995)

Never has a movie before made me so aware of the truth, so certain of what was really going on, and at the same time so wrong. A truly shocking movie when completely unveiled, The Usual Suspects gave me that feeling of "this is the best movie ever made!" after the credits started rolling. If you've seen a truly good thriller you know of what I speak. "The Usual Suspects" refer to the group of notorious crooks that were involved in the destruction of a boat and consequent large number of dead criminals, resulting in the survival of only one, responsible for revealing the events that led to that macabre scenario.

The Usual Suspects

From the beginning you know of this scenario as the story is narrated through flashbacks: starting with the random police line-up that put all five crooks in the same room for the investigation of a truck robbery, to the series of jobs conducted as a consequence of making all these masterminds come into contact. The thing about this masterpiece of a movie, is that from the very beginning you know the end-result, and know that the narrative will undeniably take you to that point. Yet, every single account given to the detective by the sole survivor, every plot, every scene and every transition seem to lead to anything, but to the boat job! It's supposed to exist doubt in the reports, since it's a criminal we're dealing with, but somehow, you know that there's at least some truth to this pressured man's story.

There is much more to it than what is initially given, though. As you watch the movie, you learn that this chain of events, leads to a much darker plot that will bring to the surface a long forgotten myth of the organized crime world, bringing a whole new complexity to what initially seemed just a deal-gone-wrong on a boat! This film will twist your head and catch you off-guard, if you do not get into it with a totally focused and undistractable mind.

My Score: 10/10

The Usual Suspects
Amazon Price: $2.99 Buy Now
(price as of Dec 3, 2015)
Starring: Stephen Baldwin, Gabriel Byrne
Directed by: Bryan Singer
Runtime: 1 hour 47 minutes
Release year: 1995
Studio: MGM

Heat

(1995)

Regarding my actual top 10 of crime thrillers (not exactly in order), these last two entries are actually part of the top 3, being Se7en the third-placed, Usual Suspects the second and Heat my choice for the best crime/cop thriller of all time. Curiously, Heat was a big inspiration to another one of my favorite movies ever (The Dark Knight), that also ranks at the top of its own list: my Top 10 Superhero Movies . Now, moving on with the film, Heat is no more than the story of the duel between a successful robber (Robert De Niro) and the veteran cop (Al Pacino), that is trying to hunt him down.

Heat

When a bank robbery doesn't go according to plan, the situation puts Lt. Hanna onto the trail of the notorious criminals. While trying to regroup for a final big-time retirement job, Lt. Hanna puts every strength and effort into stopping and catching the robbers, disregarding family duties and being increasingly affected by the case, and the overflowing weight of the many years on duty. On the other hand, Neil, the mastermind behind the heists, is starting to disobey his one rule: "Never have anything in your life that you can't walk out on in thirty seconds flat, if you spot the heat coming around the corner", when he starts to fall on love. 

With a stressful and troubled career on one side, and a doubtful and unstable life on the other, Heat creates a character-driven narrative of unparalleled depth. Two men of very distinct  trades, but in many ways similar, will fight off to the brink of exhaustion, in order to survive, while trying to remain true to themselves. This movie is exceptional in the way it presents and develops its characters, creating an atmosphere of unbearable tension throughout its run. The action is executed to such perfection, the drama feels so genuine and the story progresses with so much plainness, that it all makes for a truly mesmerizing cinematic experiecence.

My Score: 10/10

Heat
Amazon Price: Buy Now
(price as of Dec 3, 2015)
Starring: Al Pacino, Robert De Niro
Directed by: Michael Mann
Runtime: 2 hours 51 minutes
Release year: 1995
Studio: Warner Bros.

The movies that create the most real and felt experiences through a screen in my opinion, are represented on this list. I guess they reflect so much realism and draw so much parallels between their themes and our own lives that it becomes so easy to get lost into the narratives. This feeling in conjunction with the fact that I am a huge fan of well executed action and genuinely thrilling scenes, that help feed that escapism I so much seek in movies, make these types of movies the perfect choice for a truly memorable time of uncorrupted entertainment!

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