10 Must-See Movie Masterpieces of British Crime Cinema

5. Bronson (2008)

We live in a world that pays to much attention on punishment. We live in a world of high tendencies to revenge and voyeuristic pain. Our varied correctional policies over the years and throughout the globe unfortunately prove that grotesque fact. Michael Peterson, one of the most sorrowful historical characters, lived out a wasted life that was dimmed somewhere behind the bars of an irrational prison of body and soul.

Michael grew up as a normal kid. His numbered days before entering his most long-lasting residence weren’t defined by the expected tragedy. Lightheartedly he decides to rob a post office, so as to start an active course through life. The initial sentence was for seven years. During these years, yet, took place a horrendous transformation that left behind an unguided child and encountered an angry beast.

The British film “Bronson” of 2008 is what we could call a real tragedy, as it peers into a lamentable relinquishment of a humane soul into the arms of hate‒ an undimmed hate toward the entire world. Sometimes, the worst circumstance to witness is a volatile dehumanization, especially when it deviously occupies the mind of its owner. Such a victimized mind and such an enforced violence are of the most painful kind.


4. Night and the City (1950)


In 1950, Jules Dassin created a film-noir of great beauty and clever plot, in his unique and charming style. This time, yet, his mystery is found in the streets of London, instead of the dreary and shiny streets of Paris. The result is quit authentic and down-to-earth, thematically speaking. As for the picture’s imagery, there’s no need of words.

Harry hopes for a successful career in London’s underworld. He isn’t satisfyingly qualified on any level. However, despite his ambitions for an easy and prompt victory, the crime scene that he aspires to conquer is extremely demanding and relentless with the weak and inelegant ones. Organizing illegal wrestling games, he manages to become a foul of himself, as his dreams seem to fade away on a rough surface.

The most significant ingredient of Dassin’s “Night and the City” is its honesty. Its gravity center isn’t rendered to the type of people and societal textures that it exposes, but to their failures, fallacies, disorientations, and most essentially, to their mundane aspects. You may feel pity, disputation, or even sympathy for the film’s hero. In the end, you’ll feel like smiling bitterly.


3. Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998)

Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998)

In its breathtaking pace, original identity, and purely British black humor, “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels” is Guy Ritchie’s masterpiece. When we talk about British crime cinema, this film is fairly the first one that crosses the mind. It’s quit impossible for a movie-goer not to have experienced the frantic experience of this motion picture. Still, once is never enough when it’s about Ritchie and his cinematic adventures.

Gambling is about the fever of the moment, but it spreads its heat in an uncontrollable degree. Eddie doesn’t take that fact under consideration, when he robs a gang on the spot. Progressively, his gang bears the cost of other criminals, as they more and more find themselves entangled in the complicated tapestry of the local Mobs and gangsters.

Drugs, gambling, guns, and rivalry. Why do all these maladies exist? Why do we love all that vice? Sometimes, outlaws manage to be irresistibly charming in their foolery, victoriously surviving on a vain violent circle of juvenile trifle. At least, this is the effect of the iconic characters in “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels,” every single time they’re being watched in their undimmed glory.


2. The Ladykillers (1955)

The Ladykillers (1955)

It couldn’t be more British, more brilliant, and more uproarious in a vintage yet intertemporal way. “The Ladykillers” by notorious Alexander Mackendrick came in 1955 so as to mock upon our pettiness and voracity, carrying away its audience on a crazy path of unanticipated plot twists all the same.

Five ambitious thieves rent a room in the Victorian house of an old lady, in order use an above-board place as a hideaway for stolen money. Old and esteemed Mrs. Wilberforce is supposed to carry suitcases with the loot, in ignorance of her illegal act. However, the ostensibly naïve and peaceful old lady finds out her tenants’ fraud and leads them to a total disaster, through a tragicomic series of events.

Perhaps it seems old-fashioned, and it is. The vivid comedic effect of “The Ladykillers” springs from its quaintness and apt simplicity. In addition, it’s distinguished by great performances and cinematographic mastery. In any case, this is a must-see old gem of British cinema that describes an England we sometimes forget.


1. This Is England (2006)

England, 1983: a setting that we love and hate at the same time. Yes, we love the era’s punk styles, and bands, and graffitists. We still love its rebellious and modernizing mood. But do we love the forces that created Mods and Skinheads? Are we aware of their distress, loneliness and limitation when we listen to the old hits of “The Cure” and “The Clash”? Shane Meadows’s 2006 “This Is England” came to pull these colorful curtains and expose the bleak grayness behind them.

The story’s hero is a young ugly boy that doesn’t fit in his environment, as he doesn’t fit in his enormous trousers. His school’s bullies have found the easy victim on Shaun’s sad and insecure face. Eventually, he meets Woody, an older experienced skinhead. Woody shaves off Shaun’s head, rolls up his pant legs and introduces him to the rest members of his gang. This is how, out of the blue, Shaun has found a place to belong.

Sooner or later, though, his intrusion into his new friend’s interesting life changes level, going beyond meeting girls and partying. Combo, a hard-core neo-Nazi effortlessly inducts an unguided and hurt child to a world of blind hate, nationalism and racism. This path is drawn upon a wider social framework of decadence and dysfunction. Shaun, the miserable nucleus of this rotten fruit, epitomizes a weak ingredient that was meant to be diffused in his world’s decaying abyss. Meadows claims that this is England, but unfortunately, this is the entire earth from time to time.