Infernal Affairs took the world by storm, getting an Oscar-winning remake from revered director Martin Scorsese starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Matt Damon in the lead roles, with the story’s location changed to Boston.
This provides fans of the original with at least one other similar movie to check out if they’re looking for more of the same but these 10 other crime stories are also more than worthy of being sought out. Filled with plenty of double-crosses, undercover cops, and tested loyalties, these movies should satisfy any fan of either Infernal Affairs or The Departed.
10 New World (2013)
A sprawling but taut thriller about an undercover cop who’s successfully risen up through the ranks of a powerful criminal organization, New World has a lot of clear similarities to Infernal Affairs but leans much into the gangster underworld than it does the police response.
Lee Jung-jae delivers a great performance as the conflicted lead character falling too deep into their second life, but it’s Hwang Jung-min and icon Choi Min-sik who end up stealing the show as the chief allies on either side that he’s torn between.
9 Donnie Brasco (1997)
Johnny Depp and Al Pacino lead this true-crime adaptation about Depp’s FBI agent, Joseph D. Pistone, who infiltrates the New York mafia as the titular phony gangster.
Donnie Brasco is a great and very seized-upon opportunity for both of the lead actors to show their talents, particularly Depp as his character’s assumed personality begins to encroach into his life as a law-abiding family man and his sympathy towards Pacino’s trusting old soldier puts him in a precarious position.
8 Eastern Promises (2007)
Naomi Watts and Viggo Mortensen lead this dark thriller from director David Cronenberg that glimpses into the underworld of the Russian mafia in modern London.
The story begins with the death of a young pregnant girl, with her diary leading her nurse, played by Watts, on a journey to find the baby’s father. She finds an ally in Mortensen’s mysterious and compelling driver, but both are in more danger than they know as the baby’s origins sit within a wider crime family dispute.
7 The Town (2010)
Ben Affleck’s second movie as director, and his first with him as the lead in front of the camera also, author Chuck Hogan’s novel Prince of Thieves was a brave step forward from the actor-director towards bigger action sequences and higher tension.
Starring as a bank robber with a crisis of conscience after falling in love with a hostage that was taken in one of his crew’s latest jobs, Affleck is joined by dramatic heavyweights like Jeremy Renner as his unstable righthand man, Jon Hamm as the FBI agent hot on his tail and Rebecca Hall as the former hostage who’s caught between all three. While most thrillers of this nature are about honest people having to pretend to be criminals, the tension of The Town comes from a criminal fearing that his desire to be free of his world will be exposed, and it actually leaves the protagonist with even fewer places to run.
6 Body of Lies (2008)
Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe face off in this espionage thriller about DiCaprio’s ground agent in the Middle East who’s pushed to his limit by Crowe’s arrogant handler who’s watching from afar.
The lead duo is joined by an excellent cast of supporting players in this adaptation of author David Ingantius’ novel of the same name from master director Ridley Scott. In an interesting continuation of Scott’s dramatizations of conflicts between the West and Middle Eastern and Arabic cultures, Body of Lies is certainly a more politically-charged movie than anything else on this list but the duplicity and double-crosses within the story make it feel like a crime movie played out on a more global scale.
5 The Infiltrator (2016)
Bryan Cranston stars as FBI agent Robert Mazur in this adaptation of their autobiography of the same name which chronicles their undercover work spent trying to take down Pablo Escobar’s money-laundering operation.
A great showcase of Cranston’s versatility as an actor after the world-beating success of Breaking Bad, a talent that is rarely given the space it needs in movies, The Infiltrator is a classic take on the archetypal double-life story, with Mazur always on the edge of being discovered and finding himself slipping too deep into his sympathy for those he’s working to arrest.
4 The Unjust (2010)
When police officers accidentally kill the prime suspect in a series of shocking murders that have gripped South Korea, higher-ups decide that a living scapegoat is needed to finally kill the public uproar and decide to frame a former criminal, a task that an ambitious young cop takes up.
When an equally ambitious–and considerably more ruthless–prosecutor comes into play, however, the simple plan begins to spiral out of control and moral lines are blurred and crossed left, right, and center.
3 Reservoir Dogs (1992)
Quentin Tarantino’s blistering feature-length debut is an iconic crime movie that represents one of the best examples of a story about the fractious and paranoid relationships between violent criminals.
After a heist gone wrong, a group of thieves falls apart with an undercover cop in their midst. The unforgettable dialogue and the fiery performances of the whole cast made it an instant classic.
2 The Raid 2 (2014)
A sequel to 2012’s fan-favorite action movie The Raid, this crime thriller takes the lead character from the original movie, a martial arts master cop from Jakarta, and puts them undercover into one of the city’s major crime families.
Still packed with the impressively executed action that made the original such a success, The Raid 2 adds large-scale gangster elements to its already huge setpieces for an unusual but irresistible mixture.
1 We Own the Night (2007)
Joaquin Phoenix leads this family crime saga about Phoenix’s successful nightclub owner in 1980s New York who is forced to choose a side in a violent war between the cops and the Russian mafia when his father and brother, both police officers, become targets.
Much more impactfully tragic and dramatically stylish than it’s often given credit for, We Own the Night is an intense story of loyalty and life choices from writer and director James Gray, with devoted performances from the whole cast, especially Phoenix and Mark Wahlberg as the two siblings on opposite sides of the law.
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