Top Ten Real World Crime Thrillers

film reviews | movies | features | BRWC Review: Out Of The Furnace

On 2nd June 2014, Out of the Furnace arrives on DVD and Blu-ray. With an acclaimed cast, including Christian Bale, Casey Affleck, Woody Harrelson and Zoe Saldana, the film embraces Hollywood’s love of real world crime thrillers, eschewing the glamorous, over-the-top gangsters of the past in favour of a far grittier, more honest look at the realities of a life of crime. To celebrate its release on DVD and Blu-ray from Lionsgate Home Entertainment, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best real world crime thrillers to hit the screens in recent years. 

Out of the Furnace (2013)
Scott Cooper’s thriller stars Christian Bale as steelworker Russell Baze, who must protect his brother Rodney (Casey Affleck) when he becomes embroiled in a murky underworld led by ruthless drug dealer, Harlan DeGroat – played by Woody Harrelson. Set in the borough of North Braddock, Baze works in the local steel mill with the mill’s furnace representing his attempts at living a life on the straight and narrow.

Man On Fire (2004)
The second adaptation of AJ Quinnell’s novel of the same name, Man on Fire stars Denzel Washington as a disillusioned ex-CIA officer turned bodyguard, who embarks on a desperate bid to recover his charge, 9 year-old Pita Ramos (Dakota Fanning) after she is abducted. Washington is perfectly cast as the unhappy, guilt-ridden former assassin, and assisted by a star turn from Fanning, the burgeoning father-daughter relationship between them avoids falling into saccharine territory.

Donnie Brasco (2005)
Directed by Mike Newell, this crime drama focuses on the friendship between undercover FBI agent Joe Pistone (Johnny Depp) and disillusioned mob hitman Benjamin ‘Lefty’ Ruggiero (Al Pacino). Through the searing performances of the two leads, the audience can garner the seriousness of the situation which sees Pistone become Donnie Brasco to infiltrate the Bonanno crime family in 70s New York  – and completely immerse himself in the role of the tough young criminal he is pretending to be.

Gone Baby Gone (2007)
Ben Affleck’s official directorial debut (his two previous films were never released) sees private investigators Casey Affleck and Michelle Monaghan hired to investigate the disappearance of a missing child in downtown Boston.  Winning awards across the board, the film fearlessly dissected small town mistrust of the police, and its admirably restrained ending marked Ben Affleck early on as a director to watch.

Taken (2008)
Liam Neeson plays a retired CIA agent who falls back on his old skills when his daughter is kidnapped while away in Paris. Directed by Pierre Morel, this high-octane revenge thriller was a surprise hit on release, and shows a thoroughly different, grittier side to Neeson, while maintaining optimum levels of action throughout.

Public Enemies (2009)
This adaptation of Bryan Burrough’s non-fiction book Public Enemies: America’s Greatest Crime Wave and the Birth of the FBI, 1933–34, sees Johnny Depp take the lead as notorious bank robber John Dillinger in Depression- era America. While not entirely historically accurate, there are examples of staggering attention to detail- in one scene Depp drives the actual Studebaker used by Dillinger as a getaway car.

The Town (2010)
This American crime drama, adapted from Chuck Hogan’s novel Prince of Thieves, gave Jeremy Renner his second Oscar nomination (for Best Supporting Actor) and marked director Ben Affleck’s first leading role in six years. Focusing on a group of bank robbers in downtown Boston, The Town stars Affleck as the leader of the group, struggling with his feelings for a bank manager connected to one of his earlier heists (Rebecca Hall), as well as attempting to evade an FBI agent, played by Jon Hamm, looking to bring him to justice.

End of Watch (2012)
Loosely based on the lives of LAPD Officers Charles Wunder and Jamie McBride, End of Watch follows LAPD officers Brian Taylor and Mike Zavala (played by Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena) as they undertake their patrols and face the wrath of a Mexican cartel after successful drug and human trafficking busts. Shot in a documentary style, the film benefits hugely by the rapport between the leads – a large amount of which was improvised.

The Place Beyond the Pines (2012)
Derek Cianfrance’s crime drama spans 15 years, and follows the life of troubled motorcycle stunt driver (Ryan Gosling) who turns to robbing banks to provide for his lover (Eva Mendes) and their newborn child.  Bradley Cooper stars opposite the pair as an ambitious rookie cop in a police department riddled with corruption, who is tasked with tracking down the perpetrator of the robberies. A large portion of the filming was done on location in Schenectady, New York, and the title comes from the name Schenectady- the Mohawk word for “beyond the pine plains.” 


Out of the Furnace is released on DVD and Blu-ray on 2nd June 2014 from Lionsgate Home Entertainment.

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Alton loves film. He is founder and Editor In Chief of BRWC.  Some of the films he loves are Rear Window, Superman 2, The Man With The Two Brains, Clockwise, Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, Trading Places, Stir Crazy and Punch-Drunk Love.


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