Eastern Promises (2007)
London. Russian gangsters. Viggo Mortensen. David Cronenburg. A winning combination, I’m sure you’ll agree. The only entry on this list devoid of British gangsters, Eastern Promises is the intense story of Anna (Naomi Watts), a London midwife who is bequeathed a diary by a dying Russian girl.
Admittedly, this doesn’t sound like the set up of your standard mob drama. However, the journal is a poisoned chalice that leads her into the unforgiving world of the Russian mafia. This one is slightly heavier than the others, no laughs here, but is equally, if not more, hard hitting. Almost too gritty at times, Eastern Promises is a must watch – but don’t expect to have any fingernails left by the end.
In Bruges (2008)
You’ll never see a film mention alcoves as much as this one. Also, putting In Bruges in this list is cheating a bit – Ralph Fiennes is a British gangster at the heart of the plot – but it is a British gangster film in tone, humour and heart. Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson are awaiting orders from their boss, Harry (Fiennes), who has sent them to Bruges. What follows is a discombobulated romp through the Belgian city, which comprises of extremely witty humour and Ralph Fiennes’ character calling his wife an inanimate object. It’s the best humorous gangster film by a country mile.