GI Joe Origins: Snake Eyes [AKA Snake Eyes] (2021, dir. Robert Schwentke)

A martial artist seeking revenge for his father’s death joins a yakuza clan. While it looks good, this is an oddly pointless reboot with muddy, incoherent action, the wasting of some decent onscreen talent, and a miscast lead. Golding can be great, but he’s more George Clooney than the Sho Kusugi that the role needs.

Here’s the trailer.

Bull (2021, dir. Paul Andrew Williams)

A gangster’s lackey returns after a decade presumed dead to get revenge. Excellent, bleak, driven thriller/horror hybrid. Strong on blending blue-collar realism and genre thrills, so much that its potential excesses are entirely justified in-world. The best movie of its kind since Dead Man’s Shoes or Killing Me Softly.

Here’s the trailer

A Violent Man (2022, dir. Ross McCall)

A troubled lifer gets a new cellmate and an unexpected family contact. Claustrophobic prison drama – almost entirely set in a single cell – working well to maximise star Fairbrass’s trademark physicality. A touch long and repetitive maybe, but impressive and well-sustained nevertheless.

Here’s the trailer.

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.