We all love a good anti-hero, you know, those characters that lack any real redeeming or heroic qualities, yet somehow you find yourself rooting for the entire time? We all know some popular ones (see Venom, Hannibal Lecter, Ellis "Red" Redding), you get it. This list specifically looks at anti-heroes in popular crime movies, and you guessed it, most of them are the criminals of their films.
Whether it's through vigilante methods, unconventional tactics, or simply participating in criminal exploits, these 10 movies will definitely give you your anti-hero fill. They're all also incredible, critically-acclaimed films definitely worth your time. Ranked from oldest classics to newest blockbusters, here are 10 of the best anti-hero crime films.
10 Dirty Harry (1971) - Harry Callahan
This classic stars one of our favorite actors turned director, Clint Eastwood, who plays a San Francisco Police Inspector. Harry spends the entire film trying to catch the "Scorpio Killer" using unorthodox methods, some questionable violence, and some definite rule bending.
He's not called "Dirty Harry" for nothing, but the inspector does get the job done. Harry is clearly an anti-hero due to his lack of virtue, but he's still the "good guy" of this film. We only have one more question for you to ask yourself, "do I feel lucky?" Well, do ya punk?
9 The Godfather (1972) - Michael Corleone
We've all seen this classic organized crime film, but most of the focus typically lies on Marlon Brando's brilliance as Don Vito Corleone. This film made the list for none other than Al Pacino, who plays Michael Corleone.
This anti-hero definitely has his flaws, yet he selflessly helps others throughout the film and demonstrates some real virtues. He may be part of the biggest crime family of his time, but we're still rooting for him the entire time. At least, up until the ending and subsequent sequels.
8 Taxi Driver (1976) - Travis Bickle
This classic Martin Scorsese film follows a mentally unstable veteran who becomes a night-time taxi driver, Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro). After seeing the horrific nighttime events of New York City, he dedicates his time to helping a campaign worker and a young prostitute (a youthful Jodie Foster!).
Travis is more than clearly unstable, and honestly, his only redeeming quality is that he wants justice and peace in New York City. Through killing and some honestly disturbing methods, he becomes a confusing yet classic anti-hero. We're still not sure about the ending, and we're open for all suggested interpretations.
7 Pulp Fiction (1994) - Jules Winnfield
Pulp Fiction is probably Quentin Tarantino's most famous film, and it remains exceptional even by today's standards. John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson play two mob hitmen, who become intertwined with the lives of a boxer and a gangster, becoming an incredible film filled with violence and redemption.
This movie makes the list because of Jackson's character, Jules, who someone manages to remain the hero (even after we are introduced to him while he is murdering a group of men). He's extremely violent, but extremely capable of growth, making him the perfect anti-hero.
6 The Boondock Saints (1999) - Connor & Murphy MacManus
This film definitely flew under the radar, and we argue it deserves a ton more recognition. Connor and Murphy MacManus, performed by Sean Patrick Flanery and Norman Reedus (yes, that's Daryl), are two Irish Catholic brothers who become vigilantes in an attempt to wipe out Boston's criminal underworld.
With a ton of violence, some cringy humor, and some amateur finesse, these two underdogs become the crime-fighters of Boston. Watch this movie for some incredible humor, some surprisingly impressive fight scenes, and Willem Dafoe dressed in drag. Yeah, we're not lying.
5 Drive (2011) - Driver
Moving into the 2000s, Drive centers around a mysterious (and nameless) Hollywood stuntman and mechanic who moonlights as a getaway driver for a dangerous crime boss. After meeting his beautiful neighbor (Carey Mulligan), and becoming a part of her and her young son's lives, Driver (Ryan Gosling) must protect them while simultaneously finishing jobs for his corrupt boss.
Mysterious doesn't even begin to describe Driver, and he's honestly extremely violent (prepare yourself for some face smashing via boot) and pretty emotionless (um, he has no name); yet, somehow, we're rooting for him the ENTIRE time. This film is brilliant for accomplishing that.
4 The Place Beyond the Pines (2012) - Luke (& Avery Cross)
We know this is two Ryan Gosling films back to back, but this is another brilliant crime drama thriller that completely flew under the radar upon its initial release. This film follows Luke (Ryan Gosling), who is a motorcycle stunt rider turned bank robber in order to provide for his new family. Luke crosses paths with a rookie cop, Avery Cross (Bradley Cooper), who is willing to do anything to move up in the ranks - and catching the infamous bank robber would do the trick.
The lives of these two conflicted and layered men creates an intense film soaked in crime, romance, and violence. Both of these characters could be considered anti-heroes and The Place Beyond the Pines is definitely worth your time.
3 Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) - Max Rockatansky
This classic adventure story takes place in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, where a rebelling woman (Charlize Theron) and a drifter, Max (Tom Hardy), drive through the desert in order to escape their cruel lives. Fury Road isn't exactly a conventional crime movie in terms of the North American law system, but these characters are definitely breaking the laws of the new society and its leader.
Spoiler, there's a lot of driving in this film, but if you're into some racing, some pretty cool violence, and some mysterious and crazy characters, this is the film for you. Max is the silent, unconventional hero that saves the day, despite his violent tendencies.
2 Baby Driver (2017) - Baby
This film is a brilliant, music-filled treat that follows a young getaway driver, Baby (Ansel Elgort), as he tries to get out of working for his crime boss. Baby is quiet, hidden away in his world of music, and an incredible driver. Through romance, a doomed heist, and criminal enemies, Baby tries to free himself from his driving obligations to escape with his new lover (Lily James).
Baby has many redeeming qualities, but he is also making money as a getaway driver, and (spoiler), he does skewer a human body on construction equipment. So, you decide! Anyway, Baby Driver boasts an incredible soundtrack, intense car chases, and intriguing drama.
1 Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) - Han Solo
This Star Wars story centers on our favorite smuggler pilot, Han Solo. After venturing into the criminal underworld, this movie follows Han Solo as he creates his origin story. This classic character is known for being a smuggler, and a pretty selfish one at that, which makes him the perfect anti-hero.
While this film isn't exactly the artsiest or most brilliant, it's action-packed and will satisfy your Han Solo needs. Solo is definitely one of cinema's most iconic heroes, despite his criminal tendencies and lack-of-virtue methods. Still, with Woody Harrelson and Emilia Clarke, this film is definitely a fun and thrilling ride.