The 25 Best European Crime Movies of The Past 10 Years

8. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2009)

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (2009)

Sentenced in a trial for libel, investigative journalist Mikael (Michael Nyqvist) undertakes an extraordinary task. At the request of the owner of an industrial group, he investigates a mysterious criminal case from years ago. Together with the young hacker helping him, Lisbeth (Noomi Rapace), he delves into a dark and bloody family history. The next elements are combined and bring them closer to the solution of the deadly puzzle. Over the course of the investigation, a dangerous fascination arises between the journalist and the girl.

The book by Stieg Larsson, adapted by Niels Arden Oplev, is one of the most famous crime novels of the 21st century. This novel initiated the triumphal march of Scandinavian literature and criminal cinematography in all directions of the globe. For this reason, the task facing the director was extremely difficult, but he managed to dignify it.

Oplev’s film shows the Swedish reality; it provides interesting social criticism, but above all it perfectly reflects the intricately planned crime plot. The film’s success also included exquisite acting. Both Nyqvist and Rapace were able to express the depth of their characters, their strangeness and alienation. In this aspect, the Scandinavian version beats the later American adaptation.


7. Marshland (2014)


South of Spain, 1980. Two detectives from Madrid join forces to investigate the brutal murders of young girls. Juan (Javier Gutiérrez) and Pedro (Raúl Arévalo) are fundamentally different in ideological terms, but they must put aside any animosities and what separates them. They are facing the task of catching a ruthless killer who has been terrorizing the town’s community for years. There is an atmosphere of total disregard for women, resulting from a misogynistic tradition.

Fans of classic crime movies, expecting an interesting story with a good atmosphere and acting playing at a high level, should be delighted after the screening. On the other hand, movie lovers who need something different from the film should like Catalán’s great shots, an interesting outline of the relationship between the main characters and the well-presented realities of everyday life in Spain after the death of General Franco.


6. Cargo 200 (2007)

Cargo 200

The film takes place in the Soviet Union in 1984, during the perestroika and war in Afghanistan. Military aircraft with coffins do not avoid even such small cities as Leninsk, where a young girl – the heroine of the film – lives. Her fiancé, fighting in Afghanistan, is killed during the war. Militiaman Zhurov (Aleksei Poluyan) falls in love with a girl who is the daughter of a party secretary. After the disco, the girl is lost without a word. On the same evening, a cruel murder is committed on the outskirts of the town. The host of the house is found guilty. Both investigations are conducted by Zhurov.

“Cargo 200” is one of the best Russian films of the last decade. This retro-crime story by Aleksey Balabanov is first and foremost a film of a terrifying image of decay, stagnation and indifference. In these aspects, it resembles “The Dark House.” The creators leave no illusions about the layers of evil that rest in people. The film has a really coherent narrative, and its stylization for the year 1984 in the USSR can arouse admiration.


5. Bullhead (2011)


Jacky Vanmarsenille (Matthias Schoenaerts), a Belgian cattle breeder, is persuaded by an unscrupulous veterinarian to enter into an illegal deal with an animal trafficker from West Flanders. The assassination of a federal policeman and Jacky’s unexpected confrontation with the mystery that has long since been imprinted throughout his life are driving a series of events with far-reaching consequences.

“Bullhead” is a crime drama about fate, friendship, and loss of innocence; it’s about crime and punishment, but also about the role of masculinity in today’s world. It is worth paying attention to the amazing performance of Matthias Schoenaerts, whose interesting character interpretation added psychological depth. Director Michaël R. Roskam characterizes it with a heavy atmosphere and brutality. Man is compared to an animal and treated with similar undeserved cruelty.


4. Elle (2016)


This movie tells the story of Michelle (the peerless Isabelle Huppert), who is the owner of a computer game company. We know the heroine when she is raped by an unknown offender, as the tragic situation is witnessed by her cat in a catty, neutral way. Such an indifference also characterizes Michelle; this brutal rape is later described quietly with a group of friends over a glass of wine.

“Elle” doesn’t just feature a strong opening; Paul Verhoeven tells us a story about fetishes and sexual deviations, which always artistically inspired him. At the same time, it is an obscure picture and it plays with the audience’s habits. Huppert – sometimes called the “European Meryl Streep” – creates the role of a strong woman who balances on the edge of Stockholm Syndrome, although it is difficult to read her intentions and feelings.

“Elle” is a weird artistic crime movie, therefore it should appeal to different viewers. It is a film with character, seducing with its irony and approach on a difficult subject matter, and at the same time quite is seriously adhering to women.


3. Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (2009)


This film is a record of the search for the corpse of a murdered man, whose killer was too drunk to remember where he had buried the body. We do not know who, how and why he was killed. However, the scenes of the crime quickly come down to the background. In a tough story about the travels of police officers, prosecutors, doctors and suspects, the most important are the relations between the heroes, and their seemingly insignificant remarks and interrupted conversations.

The seemingly trivial movie turns out to be an built from micronaration. The director plays with a motif of fairy tales, to which the title itself refers. A criminal investigation is a kind of pretext to telling a story about the impossibility of interpersonal agreement and the transfer of personal experiences. The director of the film, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, treats existence as something elusive and impossible to convey, similarly with this subtle, but powerful movie.


2. Victoria (2015)

Victoria (Laia Costa), a young woman from Madrid, meets four men after leaving a club. Sonne (Frederick Lau) and his pals are real Berliners who promise the newcomer that they will discover an alternative world of the German capital, other than the one known from city guides. The girl, fascinated by Sonne, has nothing to lose. The idyll destroys the request to perform a dangerous favor to a prominent and mysterious gangster.

The admiration is aroused by an explosive mix of genres, directed by director Sebastian Schipper. The film goes smoothly from the idyllic history of a foreign girl playing in Berlin through a realistic gangster movie to a dynamic action movie. It is amazing because the image has been recorded in one shot, without assembly cuts, with an uninterrupted camera. The characters are created in an interesting way. “Victoria” provides unforgettable aesthetic impressions and great entertainment.


1. In Bruges (2008)

In Bruges

In 2006, Martin McDonagh received an Oscar for the short film “Six Shooters.” This picture can be considered a prelude to a full-length debut, namely “In Bruges.”

Two assassins, after an unsuccessful job during which, in addition to the priest who was the target, a 12-year-old boy was killed, are sent to Bruges in Belgium until the affair is withdrawn. Elder Ken (Brendan Gleeson) enjoys the charms of the medieval city, while younger Ray (Colin Farrell) would like to leave sooner. One day their boss Harry (Ralph Fiennes) calls with an order for Ken to kill Ray.

It is an absolute masterpiece; this marriage of crime story, black comedy and drama captivates with outstanding acting, plot and cinematography. The great advantage of “In Bruges” is the interpretative layer of meaning, but the film does not fall into tedious highbrow. “In Bruges” is like a fairy tale; the city and the film itself actually bring associations with a fairy tale, but it is rather a cruel fairy tale in the style of the Grimm brothers. A tale about guilt, remorse, and shades of friendship. The magical climate is added by one of the best soundtracks in movie history by Carter Burwell.

Author Bio: Patryk Kosenda is a Polish poet and literature student. He is a big movie fan and hates Richard Gere’s acting.