No Sudden Move (2021, dir. Steven Soderbergh)

Two criminals are hired for a straightforward job: matters get complicated. Excellent period drama, using the tropes of noir to critique capitalism and corporate greed. Lots to relish, not least a cast in depth, plus slick, confident direction, writing, and design. Recommended.

Here’s the trailer.

The Many Saints of Newark (2021, dir. Alan Taylor)

A late 60s/early 70s New Jersey teenager is raised in a mob-affiliated household and neighbourhood. This The Sopranos prequel works as a both an insight into the earlier lives of that series’ main characters, and as a stand-alone movie. Tony Soprano very much a supporting character here: the focus is on his uncle Dickie, played by a never-better Alessandro Nivola.

Here’s the trailer.

The Tax Collector (2020, dir. David Ayer)

An LA gang’s debt collecting team comes up against a rival street organisation. Very straightforward gangland drama/thriller that doesn’t offer much that’s not been seen many times before. Despite director Ayer’s welcome return to the streets, this isn’t near his best work.

Here’s the trailer.

Gomorrah (2008, dir. Matteo Garrone)

Five sets of lives criss-cross, linked by Camorra gang-related activity in the same Naples housing project. Based on a non-fiction expose, this is an astonishing piece of work: heartfelt, brutal, unsympathetic. The ages of man, scattered between the stories. The best of its type this side of City of God.

Villain (2020, dir. Philip Barantini)

A career criminal tries to go straight, but his wayward brother’s debts force him back into crime. Modest but effective East End gangsterism, with a melancholy touch and a strong central performance. No surprises, but there’s talent in the writing and direction, and Fairbrass shows that he can be subtle.

The Kitchen (2019, dir. Andrea Berloff)

Three New York women take over their imprisoned husbands’ protection racket. Lovingly-designed but superficial 70s-set crime drama based on a graphic novel, with strong performances and a great cast in depth. The tick-box script is the issue; a poorly-handled FBI subplot doesn’t help either.

The Irishman [AKA I Heard You Paint Houses] (2019, dir. Martin Scorsese)

A now-aged mob hitman reflects. A stunning revisiting of themes preoccupying Scorsese throughout his career; gang life, organised crime, Catholic guilt. Sombre and melancholy, and Ellroy-like in its alt-history approach to the American 20th century. A technical, dramatic and stylistic marvel, with fine performances all around, none less than from Pesci, who’s revelatory here. Hugely recommended.

The Boondock Saints (1999, dir. Troy Duffy)

Two Boston Irish brothers become vigilantes. Tatty post-Pulp Fiction gangster pic, more a series of set pieces than an actual linear movie. Some OK ideas along the way, and a couple of interesting performances, but this is three parts undisciplined mess to one part film.

Hotel Artemis (2018, dir. Drew Pearce)

One night in a gangsters-only private hospital in riot-torn near-future LA. Derivative but fun low-budget cyberpunk thriller, with elements of the Purge and John Wick movies. The budget’s wisely spent on strength in depth in the casting.

Proud Mary (2018, dir. Babak Najafi)

A crime syndicate-affiliated Boston hitwoman starts a gang war after protecting a child. A good central performance and some OK action anchor this very straightforward thriller in need of a stronger script less eager to make its protagonist sympathetic.