Best British Crime Films Ranked

British crime films have found wavering success, especially abroad. The genre has become something of a hit or miss. With the self-proclaimed “most successful British crime series” Rise of the Footsoldier having most of its sequels be straight to DVD. Despite that Guy Ritchie has shown it is possible to make a blockbuster crime film set in the UK that does well both commercially and critically. So here is five examples of the best British crime films…

Best British Crime Films: Top 5

5 – Layer Cake

Layer Cake – Back to the Viewer
Image Source: Back to the Viewer

Daniel Craig and Tom Hardy both feature in our first offering. Layer Cake follows a small group of drug dealers find themselves in the middle of an ongoing war. As unknown to them a big time drug robbery just occurred, and they are finding themselves right into the middle of it. The cast, music, cinematography, script, and editing are all superb. Providing an enjoyable thrilling film that you just don’t quite now how its going to end. As it keeps you in the dark as to what’s next and trust me there is always something to come next.

This sense of unsafety for the characters in the story only adds more tension when watching. Tension, which is actually paid off later in the story, more than once. Which is arguably harder than setting the tone, as a lot of films fail the big payoff. Not Layer Cake though. It smashes it out of the park!

4 – Rise of the Footsoldier

Watch Rise of the Footsoldier | Prime Video
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Based on the real life Rettendon murders that occurred in 1995, Rise of the Footsoldier is a gritty British gangster film that has since ballooned into a franchise realizing a total of 6 films. The film and its first sequel are both based on multiple true events that featured in the autobiography of Inter City Firm hooligan turned gangster Carlton Leach. Ricci Harnett brings Leach to life in a memorable performance and the climatic ending is hard to forget. The films plays with conventional story telling especially at the end and it only adds to the sense of mystery of what really happened that night in 1995. 

Best British Crime Films: Top 3

3 – Legend

Legend: International Trailer 1
Image Source: Rotten Tomatoes

Another film based/inspired by real life Legend is our third pick. Following the true events of the legendary Kray twins, roles brought to life by Tom Hardy. The film offers a view into the gritty London crime scene. Aswell as providing the excellent opportunity for Hardy to play not one but two diverse roles in the same film. The subtleties and outright differences between the two twins are layered over one another and as a result Hardy delivers two of the best performances of his career simultaneously. It’s worth watching for his performances alone.

2 – Snatch

Snatch' Review: Guy Ritchie's Heist Film Still Packs a Punch
Image Source: Collider

Guy Ritchie established himself as a world class director who understood the crime genre immensely with Snatch. Starring a cast filled with already established talent such as Brad Pitt, and upcomers such as Statham and Graham. The story revolves around some stolen diamonds and the action doesn’t fail to provide spectacle after spectacle. A gritty crime film with a star studded cast, and one of Brad Pitt’s best performances to date- what’s not to love?

Best British Crime Films: Top 1

1 – The Gentlemen

The Gentlemen' Review: Boys Will Be Boys, Sometimes With Guns - The New  York Times
Image Source: The New York Times

Yet another Guy Ritchie film takes our top spot. The Gentlemen stars Matthew McConaughey and Charlie Hunnam amongst others in a packed out cast. The story follows Mickey, a Yank in Britain, trying to sell his weed empire. Which rents grow space from Britain’s rich elite in order to grow the marijuana they sell across Britain. Touting himself as the best weed operation in the UK. Only problems start popping up as Mickey considers a potential buyer. Will this lower his business’ evaluation? Will he even have a business at the end?

Delivering comedy, tension, and action, the movie never fails to entertain. Every good crime film has to have a twist or two. Don’t worry The Gentlemen has them too!