Creating a television show that has the endurance power of something like The Wire is no easy feat, because it takes an exceptional level of storytelling ability that the vast majority of writers, even very skilled and talented writers, just do not possess. The Wire is a crime drama that focuses on law enforcement in Baltimore and the ways in which that law enforcement engages with every other faction in the city, and that could mean the way they interact with the drug trade or the educational system or anything else in between.
Even though The Wire ended in 2008 it's still held up as one of the greatest TV crime shows ever made, and it likely won't be losing that position of prestige anytime soon. But of course, since the show is over, that has left a gap in the minds of all of its fans. So here are 10 awesome crime movies that will surely entertain anyone who was a fan of The Wire.
10 The Departed
When it comes to lists of movies worth watching, Martin Scorsese's The Departed belongs on literally all of them. The main thrust of the story follows two police officers, one a dirty cop who is working for Boston's top mob boss, and another an undercover cop working for that very same mob boss. The tension in the film starts off high and never lets up, and every twist and turn is even better than what you'd expect. If you loved The Wire then you're guaranteed to love The Departed, but even if you didn't love The Wire you're still pretty much guaranteed to love The Departed.
One of the elements of The Wire that makes it so successful and unique is that it's a sprawling story about many different characters and their experiences within the crime world of a specific place. So if you enjoyed The Wire, then you'd almost certainly enjoy the Italian film Gomorrah, because that very description applies perfectly to Gomorrah as well. Gomorrah tells the story of a few different characters and their experiences connected to the Camorra crime syndicate in southern Italy. The movie has a very gritty and realistic feel to it to, so any fans of The Wire will undoubtedly be satisfied with what Gomorrah has to offer.
8 Training Day
Whenever a fictional story dives more deeply into the experiences of law enforcement and/or criminals it's guaranteed that the situation will feel more complex than a superficial examination, and there will be a lot of gray areas. And as far as the Antoine Fuqua film Training Day goes, it seems that the characters who are criminals and those who are law enforcement have an uncomfortable amount of overlap.
The movie takes place over the course of one day in LA, and it consists of officer Jake Hoyt and his unusual evaluation by a crooked undercover narcotics detective named Alonzo Harris, and it's safe to say that his "training day" doesn't go at all how either of them expected it to.
7 The Town
In case anyone was unaware, actor Ben Affleck really, really loves his hometown of Boston. So then it comes as no real surprise that Affleck is often at his best when he feels his most at home, and his Bostonian crime drama The Town is undoubtedly some of his best work. The story follows a group of professional bank robbers who want to rob Fenway Park, but their plans are complicated by the fact that Affleck's character wants out of Boston and out of his criminal life as well as the fact that he has apparently fallen for a woman who witnessed their crime and could potentially blow the whistle on their crew.
The Wire is a series that is certainly a crime drama with a heavy focus on law enforcement, but the city of Baltimore is undeniably another character within the show. And while these two locations couldn't be more different, the same thing can be said for the town of Fargo, Minnesota, in the classic crime drama/black comedy Fargo.
This Coen brothers masterpiece is can't miss cinema for any crime fan or film fan in general, and this bizarre black comedy feels both very off the wall and hilariously realistic (because while most people envision themselves as Law & Order-level crime experts, real-life wannabe criminals would often be as ham-handed as these dopes).
It actually seems quite likely that The Wire drew at least some inspiration from the Steven Soderbergh film Traffic, because the similarities between the storytelling styles and subject matter are pretty striking. Traffic is a movie that focuses on the drug trafficking trade from a variety of different perspectives including police, drug dealers, and drug users. But the focal point of the film is much broader, each individual storyline takes place in a different corner of North America and shows what a global issue the drug trade really is. It's a very in-depth look at this crime world and shows how much gray area there really is.
4 Animal Kingdom
Many people may already be familiar with the TNT crime drama series Animal Kingdom, however, that is not the Animal Kingdom we're talking about. The American TV series was actually based on this Australian crime drama of the same name, and the storyline of the film is barely indistinguishable from the story in the series.
For anyone who hasn't seen either version of the tale, It's a film about a crime family living in Melbourne who makes their living as professional thieves and drug dealers, and as you might surmise from the title, the people who live in this underground world embrace a very animalistic, survival of the fittest mentality.
3 End Of Watch
End Of Watch is a movie that both embraces the traditions of cop drama films and does what it can to subvert the typical expectations of a traditional cop drama film. The movie is about two LAPD police partners who are working their beat, and the overall narrative is fueled by the day to day experiences of these police officers while demonstrating how gnarly a seemingly normal situation can get when they least expect it. Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena carry the movie on their own, and the chemistry and relationship between the characters and actors is what makes this movie stand out from the rest.
2 A Prophet
Crime movies are one of the most perennially popular film genres in the world, and it's easy to see why. But it's popularity also means that creating a more unique and original movie within the genre is exceedingly difficult. But the French prison crime drama A Prophet really manages to take a well-worn genre and make it feel brand new again. A Prophet is the story of Malik El Djebena, a man who is arrested as a teenager for petty crime and whose time in prison allows him to learn and make connections so that while he entered the prison a petty thief, he walks out as a literal crime boss.
1 Reservoir Dogs
Anyone who considers themselves a fan of crime fiction has almost certainly seen Quentin Tarantino's debut blockbuster Reservoir Dogs, but anyone who hasn't seen it should put it on their to do list, and anyone who has seen it should probably see it again. This crime thriller follows a crew of diamond thieves who's job has gone wrong, and understandably everyone on the crew is trying to figure out what happened and why everything went sideways so fast. They suspect that an undercover cop has infiltrated the team of thieves, and as anyone would expect, things get even more intense as they try to stay alive and figure out who the rat is.