After watching The Departed, we think you'd enjoy logging into Netflix and watching any of the four on this list.
To many, Martin Scorsese’s The Departed is the ultimate crime drama, and for good reason. Not only did the film boast powerhouse performances from Leonardo DiCaprio, Jack Nicholson, Matt Damon, and Mark Wahlberg, but the writing was top-notch, making The Departed a critical, commercial, and box office success. Though it’s hard to capture lightning in a bottle in the same way, we wanted to clue you into four other films that are currently streaming on Netflix that will satiate your appetite for crime thrillers that will keep you not only at the edge of your seat but also wondering what the outcome will be well into the third act.
1992 brought us Quentin Tarantino’s directorial debut with Reservoir Dogs, which is currently streaming on Netflix for all to see. This neo-noir crime film put Tarantino’s career on the map, and much like The Departed involves the duplicitous nature in running a crime ring that is possibly infiltrated by police informants. What sets Reservoir Dogs apart from The Departed, however, is that we’re more tuned into the criminal activities rather than the law enforcement side of the equation.
Additionally, we’re introduced to Tarantino’s now signature form of non-linear storytelling that adds suspense to the narrative. Centered around a diamond heist gone wrong, the back story is folded into the plot in a way that introduces each gangster’s motive throughout the film without revealing too much right out the gate. If you considered The Departed to be too heavy-handed with its subject matter and delivery, then Reservoir Dogs will be a refreshing change of pace for you on your Netflix binge.
By now, we’re all well aware of Quentin Tarantino’s sick sense of humor, and the scene involving Mr. Blonde cutting off police officer Marvin Nash’s ear with a straight razor to the tune of “Stuck in the Middle With You” has been immortalized in pop-culture, having been parodied and referenced countless times. Though the delivery and execution of Reservoir Dogs is a far cry from what we see in The Departed, it’s within the wheelhouse of crime films that you’d enjoy viewing on Netflix.
Rooted (loosely) in realism, 2007’s American Gangster is a suitable film to watch on Netflix if The Departed is your measuring stick for what makes a memorable crime drama. American Gangster is a fictionalized account of Frank Lucas’ (Denzel Washington) heroin smuggling operations, rise to prominence, and subsequent downfall. Denzel Washington delivers a performance that is a nuanced portrayal of the intricate inner workings of the drug smuggling trade, and Russell Crowe’s Richie Roberts has a level of police intuition that is enviable to say the least.
Much like The Departed, American Gangster reveals police corruption at its highest level as we learn about how Lucas’ deep pockets line the very pockets of those who should be in pursuit of him.
American Gangster grossed $266.5 million off its budget of $100 million and boasts an 81 percent critical rating on Rotten Tomatoes. In other words, this Ridley Scott film is worthy of sitting on the same pedestal as The Departed.
Though the real-life Frank Lucas and Richie Roberts have gone on record stating that the events in American Gangster were wildly exaggerated for dramatic effect, it’s worth noting that we’re talking about a work of fiction meant to be compelling and entertaining for a broad audience. The Departed also took creative liberties in regard to its source material, but we can’t blame Scorsese and Scott too much for wanting to create cinematic masterpieces using fictional accounts based on true events. At the end of the day, we’re firing up Netflix to decompress and suspend a healthy amount of disbelief so we can sit back and enjoy the show.
Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman saw a limited theatrical release before finding its home on Netflix, and was very well received on the critical front with a 95 percent critical score on Rotten Tomatoes, surpassing The Departed. Based on the Charles Brandt novel I Heard You Paint Houses, The Irishman is a crime thriller film that follows the story of Frank Sheeran (Robert De Niro) and his involvement with Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino) and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. The phrase “painting houses” is a euphemism for contract killing, referencing the blood splatter from a gunshot that would paint a house.
The story of the Irishman is told to us through a series of flashbacks that Frank Sheeran recounts from his nursing home, and highlights his rise to prominence in the world of organized crime which ultimately landed him the position of Hoffa’s bodyguard. Though the story spans decades, the use of de-aging effects allows us to see Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci in a younger form in a way that certainly gives makeup artists a run for their money. Inspired by true events like The Departed and American Gangster, we see Scorsese do what he does best by telling a compelling story about the inner workings of organized crime in this mob epic.
The Irishman also marks the ninth collaboration between Scorsese and De Niro, which goes to show you that familiarity doesn’t always breed contempt, but rather a fine-tuned sense of chemistry between a star and his director. It’s comforting to know that Scorsese is still able to wow us with his brilliance this late in his career, and The Irishman sits perfectly alongside The Departed in his filmography as a must-see on Netflix.
Coming in hot on this Netflix list is Heat, also starring Robert De Niro. If the cat-and-mouse game played in The Departed kept you on the edge of your seat, then this 1995 Micheal Mann film belongs on your shortlist of films to familiarize yourself with if you haven’t done so already. In Heat, we learn how Lieutenant Vincent Hanna (Al Pacino) and professional thief Neil McCauley (Robert De Niro) are not so different when it comes to their codes of ethics despite the fact that their run-ins are adversarial, and they will kill each other without hesitation if the need to do so arises.
Mutual respect aside, Heat deviates structurally from The Departed and American Gangster in the sense that there is a clear delineation between the right and wrong sides of the law. In other words, we don’t see corrupt officers pursuing a healthy side hustle by taking bribes from the criminals they’re supposed to be locking up. Boasting one of the most iconic bank robbery scenes in the history of film, Heat not only marks the first shared-scene collaboration between Robert De Niro and Al Pacino (they shared no scenes together in The Godfather Part II ) but one of their best performances together overall.