Films of the Decade: Crime

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Top Five Crime Films

5. Sexy Beast

Ben Kingsley may get most of the plaudits for playing the shouty psychopath Don Logan, but Ian McShane plays the most chilling villain here. Fucked in the arse by a banker during an orgy, he decides to fuck the guy in return by robbing his bank. Basically the film isn’t about Ray Winstone and Ben Kingsley, it’s about a homoerotic power struggle between a banker and a hood. Everything else is just garnish, even though it’s wonderful garnish. The dialogue in particular is a joy to behold.

4. Narc

A fairly straight forward cop movie that is elevated by some incredible performances and by the gritty filmmaking, it takes the good cop/bad cop cliché to the extreme. Both Jason Patric and Ray Liotta raise their game and give career best performances. It was such a great film that I had very high hopes for Joe Carnahan…but then he made Smokin’ Aces…and has The A-Team in the can. But at least this film kicks ass.

3. No Country For Old Men

An excellent adaptation of the wonderful Cormac McCarthy novel, No Country For Old Men is a modern western dressed up as a crime film. It’s all about the conflict between good and evil. But what makes the film so special is how resigned it is. No matter what we do, there’s always going to be evil in the world; evil that doesn’t make sense. And even though we usually start our lives with the belief that understanding will come with age, the opposite usually occurs. The more we live, the less the world makes sense. In addition to this, No Country For Old Men also features some amazing set-pieces. The whole film is wracked with an incredible amount of tension.

2. Zodiac

David Fincher’s most mature film, Zodiac is a bleak serial killer film that leads the characters and audience through several blind alleys. There’s no clean resolution and it’s never 100% clear who the murderer is. But even though most of the ‘action’ happens at the frontend of the film, it always remains fascinating viewing. This isn’t a film about a killer and the killer being brought to justice. It’s a film about obsession and the human need for answers. A man practically ruins his life just to try and find out who a serial killer is. One scene beautifully illustrates his plight – a San Francisco skyscraper gets built and the landscape of the city changes as the man remains locked in the past. Without answers, he can’t move forward and without moving forward he can’t hope to live a meaningful life. He’s as much a victim of this killer as anyone.

1. Gomorrah

The complete opposite of most gangster films, Gomorrah doesn’t have a single shred of glamour. The people here are horrible, rotten individuals and the film has none of the sheen of a Scorsese or Coppolla epic. Instead it makes for grim, depressing viewing – the people here are caught in the web of organised crime and there’s no way out. Split into different stories, the most captivating is that of two young bozos who steal some mafia guns. Filled with dreams of Scarface and the glory of a violent death, they exemplify everything that is wrong with the movie-filled conception of what it is to be a gangster. Gangsters aren’t glamorous and they’re not people to emulate. They’re rotten lowlifes who don’t value human life and who worship greed. Their lives are cheap and disposable. Another excellent thread is the one that deals with a corrupt businessman who dumps toxic waste onto a future building site. Now Naples is literally a toxic waste dump instead of just being a metaphorical one.

Five Worst Crime Films

5. Gone Baby Gone

A promising beginning soon gives way to utter nonsense as a conspiracy concerning the kidnapping of a young girl unfolds. The twists and turns are completely ridiculous and don’t feel organic at all. I mean, an apparently benevolent police chief who turns out to be a bastard who kidnaps children. This is schlocky film bullshit of the highest order.

4. Cassandra’s Dream

With the brilliant Crimes and Misdemeanours, Woody Allen has proved that he can make an excellent crime movie. Sadly, though, with Match Point and Cassandra’s Dream, his touch deserted him. Both are fairly awful experiences, with Cassandra’s Dream being the worst of the two. Starring Ewan McGregor and Colin Farrell as two fuckwit brothers, they’re lured into killing a poor sap by their malevolent uncle. It’s painful to watch McGregor and Farrell struggling to pull off a convincing London accent and both characters are Forrest Gump stupid. Therefore the supposed tragic ending ends up being unintentionally hilarious.

3. The Boondock Saints

An inept film in every regard, The Boondock Saints features some of the most abysmal writing and directing known to man. The structure of the film basically revolves around Willem Defoe twatting about at a crime scene and firing his fingers like guns as we get to see the crime replayed to us. If it were done once, it would be tolerable, but its not. And then you have the central characters. All of them are reprehensible wankers but we’re somehow supposed to look up to them. Plus they slaughter loads of people in the name of god. Fuck these arseholes, fuck this film and fuck the cult that has sprung up around it.

2. Base-moi

Kind of like Natural Born Killers with French lesbians. And like that film, it’s utter shit. Grannies give blow-jobs and a man gets a gun rammed up his arse. It’s another one of those murderous lovers on the run films that had me wishing that I could walk into the film with a gun and kill the characters just so that I could end the pain.

1. Get Carter

I can understand the desire to remake Get Carter. Mike Hodge’s seminal gangster film, while quintessentially British, is easily translatable. It really shouldn’t be that hard to update it and transport it to America. But sadly, the filmmakers here change everything about the film that makes it unique. They take an incredibly tough film and try and make it audience friendly. It’s a watered down version of Get Carter. And the casting of Stallone is a stupid decision. Carter isn’t meant to be a beefcake. He’s supposed to survive with his intelligence and ruthlessness. Basically you’ve taken a cobra and turned him into a pitbull. And even worse, this pitbull has had all its teeth removed and they’ve put a muzzle on it. It’s a textbook example of how not to do a remake.

You Might Also Like