5 Movie Criminals We Want to Live Like

Published 5 days ago by

They say crime doesn’t pay, but Hollywood has a different take on the old adage. For decades, the crime genre has produced some of cinema’s most popular films, providing us regular Joes with a look into the lives of mobsters, gangsters, and other high-profile criminals.

Obviously, the fall from grace is always right around the corner (a fact these films rarely shy away from), but the depiction of the extravagant lifestyles is arguably extremely enviable for viewers. Getting even just a little taste of being ungodly rich, partying with bikini models on yachts, and going through days without a care in the world is enough to make anyone want to turn to a life of crime – regardless of the risks that lie ahead or how short the reign may be. With that in mind, here are Screen Rant’s 5 Movie Criminals We Want to Live Like.


Henry Hill – Goodfellas

Movie Criminals Henry Hill 5 Movie Criminals We Want to Live Like

As far back as Henry Hill could remember, he always wanted to be a gangster and one viewing of Goodfellas’ opening sequence will make you want to be one too. In Martin Scorsese’s classic, we are introduced to the protagonist as a wide-eyed youth who is infatuated with becoming a member of the mob. In a monologue filled with optimism, young Henry glamorizes the lifestyle, claiming that there is no better way to be.

Starting from his job at the cabstand as a teenager to an adult working heists with Jimmy Conway and Tommy DeVito, Henry spends the first part of Goodfellas validating everything he says in those opening minutes. He becomes rich early in his life, enjoys the family nature of the New York mob, doesn’t have to work a “real” job, and commands the utmost respect from the mob’s associates (symbolized by the famous Copacabana sequence). Herein lies the beauty of Goodfellas. It takes people who murder and steal for a living and turns them into relatable characters.

Of course, Henry’s naivety from his childhood comes back to bite him as the less-appealing aspects of gangster life rear their ugly heads in the film’s second half (most notably, FBI helicopters and jail time). Still, through designer suits, expensive meals, and a feeling of invulnerability – however short-lived – we’d still take his experiences over being a schnook.

Danny Ocean – Ocean’s Eleven

Movie Criminals Danny Ocean 5 Movie Criminals We Want to Live Like

While he does have a knack for landing himself in jail, Danny Ocean’s life seems pretty enjoyable outside of three-to-six month trips to prison. He spends most of his free time planning elaborate heists with his close friends. Who hasn’t dreamed of doing that at least once in their life?

Ocean’s Eleven focuses mainly on the robbing of three Vegas casinos, so we don’t see Danny’s personal life in the actual movie, but there’s enough evidence to suggest most people wouldn’t mind living like him. We’ve already covered the heists, but Danny is also extremely composed (allowing him to be in control of any situation) and has the smarts to outwit his foes – as evident by him winning back his ex-wife from Terry Benedict. Plus, having a share of a $160 million jackpot doesn’t sound so bad either.

What differentiates Danny from other movie criminals is that at his core, he’s a thief with a heart of gold. Unlike certain mobsters and gangsters, he is not corrupt or power hungry and only wants his ex-wife to love him back. At the conclusion of the film, Danny even takes the fall for his entire crew – going to jail while the rest of the team enjoys their share of the heist. Reaching that level of selflessness is something we would like to achieve, especially since most movie criminals are greedy people who are only out for themselves.

Frank Abagnale, Jr. – Catch Me if You Can

Movie Criminals Frank Abagnale 5 Movie Criminals We Want to Live Like

The Wolf of Wall Street isn’t the first time Leonardo DiCaprio played a real-life criminal. Frank Abagnale, Jr. may not have made $49 million the year he turned 26, but his accomplishments were extremely impressive. Running away from home as a teenager, Frank spends a number of years posing as an airline pilot, doctor, and lawyer, conning his way to millions of his own all before he turned 21.

While few would sign up for the emotional trauma Frank went through after his parents’ divorce, one can see how useful skills of forgery can be (particularly when it’s difficult to catch you). At a time when most of us are sitting through high school math, Frank is flying with Pan Am stewardesses. Instead of writing college application essays, he’s partying-on at Riverside Apartments in Atlanta. Suave, charming, and highly intelligent, Frank possesses a lot of qualities men want and his brief lifestyle of driving Aston Martins and wooing beautiful women seems fun.

Frank was eventually caught and sent to prison, but he even found a way to get out of that. Serving four years of a twelve-year sentence, Frank gets a job – ironically enough – working in the FBI’s check fraud department, finishing out his punishment as a “free” man. As the film’s closing credits notes, Frank designs checks for banks and Fortune 500 companies, legally earning a large amount of money annually. So even his fall ended up being beneficial.

Marsellus Wallace – Pulp Fiction

Movie Criminals Marsellus Wallace 5 Movie Criminals We Want to Live Like

Outside of one extremely unfortunate incident in a pawnshop, Marsellus Wallace lives the good life. With loyal henchmen at his side, this crime boss rules Los Angeles with an iron fist, freely taking away “L.A. Privileges” from anyone he wishes. Commanding the respect and fear of anyone who encounters him, Marsellus is basically a god amongst men. Even the cool and laid back Vincent Vega is petrified by what he’s capable of.

We don’t get to see much of Marsellus’ life in the actual film, but there are enough glimpses for us to want to be like him. Not only does he get to lounge poolside while hit men do his dirty work, Marsellus is close to the ultimate “Get Out of Jail Free” card – The Wolf, who is handy in any sticky situation.

Unlike the other entries on our list, we never see if there is a fall for Marsellus (though his abuse during “The Gold Watch” is nothing to sneer at), meaning that he very well could have spent the rest of his years living large, being untouchable, and going medieval on his enemies.

Tony Montana – Scarface

Movie Criminals Tony Montana 5 Movie Criminals We Want to Live Like

In one of the finest rags-to-riches stories told on film, Cuban immigrant Tony Montana arrives to the States with nothing and ultimately becomes one of the premier drug kingpins. Played with gusto by Al Pacino, Tony symbolizes the American dream and what it’s like to be on the top of the world – something we would all aspire to do.

Pushing it to the limit, he acquires a lifestyle of fame and fortune by gradually building a multi-million dollar drug empire. Living in a mansion, owning a pet tiger, marrying the woman of his dreams, and continually bringing in profits, Tony feels invincible as the luxuries keep piling up. The world is his.

Of course, Scarface also illustrates the downsides to being in Tony’s situation. In the film’s tumultuous third act, his life crumbles around him via feelings of paranoia, deteriorating relationships with those closest to him, and mountains of cocaine. Like Goodfellas, the film operates as a cautionary tale to anyone who may find the life of a criminal appealing. However, since we’ve seen Tony’s exploits, we would know what pitfalls to avoid and would try to keep the charmed life going as long as we could.


Movie Criminals Jordan Belfort 5 Movie Criminals We Want to Live Like

They don’t have wizards, dragons, or Hobbits, but the entries in the crime genre work as their own fantasy films. They give viewers a peek into a whole new world and allow them to live vicariously through characters that do truly despicable things. One of the reasons why these films are so popular is because they let us dive into our imaginations and live out our craziest dreams while we still operate as law-abiding citizens in the real world.

Of course, our list is not meant to be all-inclusive, so be sure to name the criminals you would like to live like in the comments below. Whether it’s the prosperous business of American Gangster’s Frank Lucas or the hyper-intelligence of Professor Moriarty, or the jet-setting of Jordan Belfort (pictured above), there are a number of lifestyles to choose from.

Follow Chris Agar on Twitter @ChrisAgar90
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  1. Scarface his house was tacky but awsome especially the water fountain

    when Tony is buying the Porsche i can’t remember the line but he says “the one with the foglights in case i get stuck in a swamp, and one of them phones with scramblers and radar with scanners to pick up flying saucers”

    • Machine-gun turrets extra.

  2. No Frank Costello from The Departed

  3. Ah…

    No, no, no, no, and no.

    Isn’t it long past time to stop glorifying criminals in our society?

    • I’m with this guy with a few exceptions. Glorifying criminals, I think, sends the wrong signal to some of the more impressionable people in modern society. And most depictions don’t show the criminals confront the wrongness of some of their deeds. Sure sometimes there’s a trial and whatnot, but I’m talking about confronting the morality of their actions. If they murdered people, do they even feel sorry for doing that or having done that? Do they understand how worthless their life is, and how they perpetuate a pointless lifestyle where people live and people die, but the world is no better for it? Stuff like that.

      My exceptions are when morality supersedes legality. And I have somewhat of a biased view towards that are Robin Hood types.

      And there’s another kind. Unfortunately, in a society where there are rules, you’ll always have those few that wish to break those rules for whatever reasons. So there are some criminals who try to contain the criminality, take the position of being at the top of the food chain and dictate rules so that the criminality is kept at a certain standard. I can’t think of an example right except an obscure one from literature, the criminal boss in the Dresden Files, Johnny Marcone. Without getting into spoilers, you find out in the series why he decided to position himself on top of the food chain of the criminal world.

      • Henry Hill lived the rest of his life always looking over his shoulder, especially when he broke anonymity to tell his story.

        Tony Montana was brutally murdered by a rival drug lord in his own home after watching his sister die by machine gun fire when his life crumbled around him due to his own actions.

        Frank Abignale Jr was arrested, served time and turned his life around to stop others from committing fraud, much like today’s hackers are sought and employed by the FBI to work for them.

        Three people on a list of 5 who didn’t have much of a life to glorify because it caught up to them in the end.

        It’s like Clarence Boddicker in Robocop. Probably the coolest and most awesome movie villain of all time in my opinion with great lines (“Bitches, leave” being one of my faves), he’s also a brutal, sadistic gang leader who thinks nothing of killing his own men to save his own skin. He’s also committed armed robbery, murder and is a known cop killer.

        He ends up having Robocop’s data spike stabbed into his neck and dies in a puddle of dirty water at an abandoned industrial plant. Definitely not a glorification of crime.

        • Can’t speak for Jeff, but I wasn’t talking about every movie about criminals. And the three movies you mentioned, they spent about most of the movie glorifying it and you’re focusing in on small portions of it, some of it going beyond the movie. You’re going beyond what was presented. And you seem to be suggesting that criminality wasn’t glorified because they were caught in the end with your statement: “didn’t have much of a life to glorify because it caught up to them in the end.” Most of the movies revolving around criminality glorify it for a good portion of the movie, and that’s what most people take away from it. I don’t think all of that glorification simply goes away just because they get caught in the end.

          Selective instances doesn’t really apply. Most of the movies mentioned in this article revolve vastly around those involved on the criminal end. Robocop focuses on the other end. Different focus.

        • The title of this article is “5 Movie Criminals We Want to Live Like”…

          If that doesn’t glorify criminals, I don’t know what does.

          • What? Jeff’s offended by something in a movie? I would have never guessed it.

            • Reading comprehension, you goof.

              I’m offended by the article, not the movies.

              This article was actually written a year ago, so Screenrant must be hurting for material if it is recycling it.

    • Weird.

      I tried to refute this silly comment but for some reason, it won’t post, despite several replies and no immature name-calling words used. Not typing it all again.

      • I tried to do the same thing to a couple of post here and received the same no post treatment as well. I think glorifying villains in movies is great because I’m tired of the good guys always winning. These are movies after all and I like stories from both sides of the coin.

    • Why should they stop glorifying villans? America has begun glorifying homosexuality, pro choice ( which is murder) and audaltry. There are also movies where they murder people and it is a comedy (God Bless America). I have homosexual friends and family I love them to death. I have family that are pro choice. Here is the thing. Man without Jesus the Lord of all will love this dark and evil world. being blinded and separated from God Eph 4:18 Isaiah 59:2. This world needs their Saviour Christ Jesus.

      • They’re movies dooley, calm down. God Bless America was a great movie. You should watch it again, or maybe you shouldn’t, I don’t think you like the same movies I do lol.

      • I’m a God fearing Christian as well dude, but this is just the world we live in today. Is it a good thing? No ,but it is reality. Everything on Tv and movies features some kind of sinful activity: Big Bang Theory promotes premarital sex, even at the expense of one’s own religion, Iron Man had Stark having premarital sex with a a woman, The Flash has a gay police chief and also has characters engaging in premarital sex. That’s just to name a few. I’m not saying its a good thing, but the best thing you can do is just stop listening to secular music, stop watching tv shows and movies because you’re being exposed to sin. It’s just the world we live in.

  4. i was hoping for a little more diversity…

    Robin Hood
    V for Vendetta
    Pirates of the Caribbean
    Blank Check

    • NOSTALGIA BOMB! My god, I need to go check if my wife has seen Blank Check.

  5. no mention of Han Solo?

  6. Where’s Dolemite??lol

  7. How in the world could you not mention the Godfather, Marlon Brando. The gentlmanly respect and power this man holds over the media, judges, and polititians can not be understated.

  8. No American Gangster? But wooo! Ocean’s 11 and Catch Me if You Can!

  9. Yeah. Good article but one should be done about corrupt cops and law enforcement that abuses their powers to get an arrest. Now that would be something. Lord knows that happens every day.
    Staying on topic I have always like Danny Ocean from the list. Not on the list, I would add George Jung.

  10. It’d be Chazz Palminteri’s character in A Bronx Tale for me…

  11. wtf is wrong with screenrant… re-posting an old article form like a year ago… I mean are you so desperate for front page content that you just rehash old crap articles for no other reason apart form placing a new “box” on the front page to look like you are in fact doing something..

    Seriously.. look at the replies all from a year ago.. You should be ashamed. Sometimes screenrant is so amateur it is shocking.

  12. Ummmmm……….. Johnny Depp for the first like hour or so in “BLOW”

  13. Jeez really?
    Wouldnt want to live like any of them to be perfectly honest.
    What a strange article.

  14. why would you want to choose Henry Hill and be paranoid and coked up your entire life? Ive seen people in real life like him and i am definitely not jealous of them. nothing fun about looking out for helicopters constantly.

    Also had the chance to meet and chat with Frank Abignale. An amazingly humble person and he told me that his life was not glamorous like the movie makes it out to be. he missed his family every night and was absolutely lonely. imagine living a life where your true identity and age is never known. no one knew Frank. they just knew a 30 year doctor or an airline pilot. he never got to talk to people or interact as himself.

  15. I actually don’t want to be like Tony Montana, But hes the most kick ass among the list.
    ill probably pick Danny Ocean from Ocean’s Eleven at least a lot of people got his back.

  16. I think the only one would be Danny Ocean because even though he’s a criminal and steals money, he’s never really hurt anyone. Frank Abagnale, Jr never really anyone either, but I couldn’t imagine trying to live like that and just being alone and not being able to really get close to anyone.
    The ones I would definitely not want to be like are Tony Montana, Marsellus Wallace, and Henry Hill. Tony Montana was a paranoid drug addict who seemed to have an unhealthy interest in his sister. Marsellus was butt raped and Henry Hill no doubt would have had to fear for his life at every turn.

  17. Jordan Belfort for me .

    I mean he swindled all his client money. Spend it all on drugs, b1tches and luxury toys. Had orgies in his office, his yacht, his mansion, his airplane.

    And he only served 5-7 years for white-collar crime. Once he was out, he wrote a biography and is currently doing the lecture circuit.

    Oh, but his personal life did crumble. So it kinda balance thing out.

  18. Yeah, Tony Montana, Henry Hill and Marsellus Wallace (sorry that unfortunate incident in the pawn shop is a deal breaker) would not be fun at all IMO.

    Danny Ocean, heck yeah he was cool as ice or even another Clooney character Jack Foley from Out of Sight seems fun especially if you get to fall for Jennifer Lopez. 😉
    Or even Dom from Inception. Technically not a criminal in a real world sense but in the Inception universe it would be pretty cool to go into and influence dreams.

  19. Yes, we all want to be Marsellus Wallace. Just minus the anal rape.

    That would kinda dampen my day.