10 Great Departures Into Crime Thriller Territory
Martin Scorsese’s The Departed is a thrilling and intricately layered crime thriller, with plenty to whet the appetite. Dark, gritty and boasting a great ending too, this one is well worth a watch.
If you’ve finished watching this one and are looking for similar picks, we’ve got you covered. We’ve combed through the archives and saved you the hassle with our top picks for alternate viewing. As usual, let us know your thoughts about our picks in the comments below!
The Town (2010)
Directed by Ben Affleck, The Town follows a group of lifelong friends who rob banks in Charlestown, Boston. The protagonist is Doug MacRay, who falls in love with a woman named Claire. However, Claire was once a hostage in one of his gang’s robberies. When Doug tries to leave his life of crime behind for her, it leads to a series of intense events.
Both movies are based in Boston and revolve around crime and its impacts on interpersonal relationships. This, coupled with the protagonist’s struggle to find a way out of the criminal lifestyle, makes it a must-watch for fans of The Departed.
Mystic River (2003)
Clint Eastwood’s Mystic River follows the lives of three childhood friends, Jimmy, Sean, and Dave, whose lives are changed forever by a tragic event. When Jimmy’s daughter is found murdered years later, the past resurfaces, leading to a series of devastating incidents.
Much like The Departed, both movies delve deep into themes of trust, betrayal, and consequences of past actions, along with exploring the dark underbelly of crime.
American Gangster (2007)
American Gangster is based on the life of Frank Lucas, a gangster from North Carolina who smuggles heroin into the United States on American service planes returning from the Vietnam War. It also focuses on Richie Roberts, a detective trying to bring down Lucas’ drug empire, setting up a cat and mouse chase.
Both films portray the intertwined lives of criminals and law enforcement officials, and the personal dilemmas faced by them, making for a really intriguing watch.
Goodfellas is the true story of Henry Hill, a half-Irish, half-Sicilian Brooklyn kid who is adopted by neighborhood gangsters at an early age. From there, he climbs the ranks of a Mafia family but with his rise through the criminal underworld, the toll this lifestyle takes on Henry’s relationships and sanity comes into full view.
Both films delve into the lives of organized criminals, detailing their operations and the consequences of their actions. They illustrate the lure of power, wealth, and respect in this lifestyle, and how violence and betrayal become a part of these characters’ lives.
The Dark Knight (2008)
Directed by Christopher Nolan, The Dark Knight is a sequel to Batman Begins, portraying the continued journey of Bruce Wayne/Batman as he takes on his role as Gotham’s vigilante. The film’s primary antagonist is The Joker, played exquisitely by Heath Ledger, a psychopathic criminal mastermind who thrusts Gotham into anarchy and forces Batman closer to crossing the fine line between hero and vigilante.
Both The Dark Knight and The Departed are gritty crime dramas that explore themes of duality, identity, and morality. In both films, the protagonist grapples with maintaining their integrity while working within corrupt systems, along with leading dual lives.
The Usual Suspects (1995)
Bryan Singer’s The Usual Suspects is a neo-noir mystery film about a sole survivor who tells the intricate story of events leading up to a horrific gun battle on a boat, which began when five criminals met at a seemingly random police lineup.
Both films have complex narratives involving crime, deception, and mystery. They each feature an elusive, near-mythical criminal figure (Keyser Söze in “The Usual Suspects” and Frank Costello in “The Departed”) all whilst wrestling with themes of identity, loyalty, and betrayal.
Gangs of New York (2002)
Directed by Martin Scorsese, Gangs of New York is set in the mid-19th century in the Five Points district of New York City. The story follows Amsterdam Vallon, who seeks to avenge his father’s death by killing Bill the Butcher, his father’s murderer.
Much like The Departed, Gangs of New York is a Scorsese-directed crime drama with a plot revolving around revenge, loyalty, and the complex relationship between fathers and sons. Of course, we also get the grimy underbelly of their respective cities, though in different time periods.
Black Mass (2015)
Scott Cooper’s Black Mass is based on the true story of Whitey Bulger, the brother of a state senator and the most infamous violent criminal in the history of South Boston, who became an FBI informant to take down a Mafia family invading his turf.
Both films are crime dramas set in Boston, centered on the Irish-American mob scene. They each depict an intricate relationship between criminals and the FBI, with the lines between law and crime blurring as characters navigate their alliances.
Training Day (2001)
Directed by Antoine Fuqua, Training Day follows a day in the life of a rookie narcotics detective, Jake Hoyt, who is taken under the wing of senior narcotics officer, Alonzo Harris. As the day progresses, Jake begins to question the moral and ethical implications of Alonzo’s aggressive and questionable methods.
Much like The Departed, Training Day delves into the morally gray areas of law enforcement and the potential corruption within the police system. The idea of a younger officer being guided by a seasoned, corrupt cop somewhat mirrors the relationship between Colin Sullivan and Frank Costello in The Departed too.
Infernal Affairs (2002)
Infernal Affairs is a Hong Kong crime-thriller about a police officer who infiltrates a triad, and a police officer secretly working for the same gang. The two struggle with their dual identities, constantly on the brink of being discovered by their respective organizations.
The Departed is actually a remake of Infernal Affairs so it makes sense to put this one on the list. Both films share the same central plot of police and gangster moles trying to discover each other’s identities, leading to tense showdowns and questions of loyalty and morality.
There we have it, our list of best movies that are similar to The Departed. What do you think about our picks? Did one of your favourites make the list? Let us know in the comments below: