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.

GoodFellas (1990, dir. Martin Scorsese)

The rise and fall of mob informant Henry Hill. Peerless, confident, cine-literate story of a generation of Mafia-related life, which stands also as a lesson in popular music, Italian cookery, and the storytelling possibilities of cinema. Magical from first frame to last.

Villain (1971, dir. Michael Tuchner)

The fall of a London gangster. Great bit of lowlife Cockney thuggery, with Burton playing a character that has attributes of both Kray twins. Huge strength in depth in the casting, plus lots of quirky detail, and a snarling central performance. Recommended.

Wild Card (2014, dir. Simon West)

A burnout Las Vegas hard man gets a shot at redemption. Episodic but fun, this is superior Stathamism, based on a 1980s William Goldman novel, and a minor Burt Reynolds vehicle. Many Vegas tropes played with, some OK action, and a decent Xmas soundtrack.