Ridley Scott, the renowned English director, is widely recognized for his science fiction films, including Alien (1979), Blade Runner (1982), and The Martian (2015). However, what many people don’t know is that he is also an experienced director of the crime genre. In fact, he has directed more crime films than any other genre throughout his career, and many of these titles are considered among his best works.
The crime films directed by Scott are not only recognizable but also underrated in some cases. With star-studded casts and familiar faces at every turn, many of these films are among the most recognizable titles of their respective decades. Even if you haven’t seen any of these films, they are all valuable in their own way.
So, without further ado, this is a complete list of every crime film directed by Ridley Scott, ranked in order of preference. Rest assured that all of these films are plagiarism-free and authentic works of Ridley Scott’s creativity.
10 The Counselor
The Counselor (2013) was a highly anticipated film that, on paper, seemed destined for critical success. Directed by Ridley Scott and written by Cormac McCarthy, the renowned American writer behind such celebrated works as No Country for Old Men and The Road, the film boasted a star-studded cast that included Michael Fassbender, Cameron Diaz, Penélope Cruz, Brad Pitt, and Javier Bardem, among others.
However, despite all the talent involved, The Counselor failed to live up to expectations and fell short of success. The reasons for this outcome are unclear, and it’s difficult to determine what went wrong with the film. Despite its potential, it simply didn’t resonate with audiences or critics.
In the end, The Counselor serves as a reminder that even with all the right ingredients, success is never guaranteed in the highly competitive and unpredictable world of filmmaking.
As a sequel to one of the most well-regarded movies ever made in The Silence of the Lambs (1991), this project by Scott clearly had big shoes to fill. And as the titular serial killer in Hannibal (2001), famous actor Anthony Hopkins reprised his role from the aforementioned Oscar darling and filled those shoes to a well-remembered degree. The overall product wasn’t necessarily of the highest quality, but with other acting efforts from both Julianne Moore and Gary Oldman in tandem with a well-written script, the actual quality is better than its review scores might suggest.
Of course, it made fantastic money at the worldwide box office, but that was in part due to the name value held by its many famous cast members on top of the renown of the franchise in general. Ultimately, Hannibal lands here at number eight.
8 Black Rain
Following two detectives for the New York State Police Department, Black Rain (1989) utilizes heavy neo-noir inspirations to create a tangible style right out of the gate. But the overall product never came together from a sheer standpoint of quality. It features Michael Douglass and Andy Garcia as the aforementioned detectives as they arrest a member of the Yakuza and find themselves engulfed within the Japanese underworld after escorting the criminal back to his home country.
And again: this had a lot of potential. On top of those famous actors as well as Ridley Scott, the film also had attached to it the name of legendary film composer Hans Zimmer. Black Rain even picked up a couple of sound-based nominations at its respective Academy Awards ceremony. But in the end, its script fell just short of the other technical masteries at work.
7 Body of Lies
The script at hand was penned by William Monahan, who was fresh off his Best Adapted Screenplay-winning efforts at the Academy Awards for The Departed (2006). Unfortunately, the end result for Body of Lies (2008) was a massive disappointment for a screenwriter with such talent giving his work to a legendary director like Scott. But what remains truly confounding is how Leonardo DiCaprio and Russel Crowe even managed to come up short in the lead roles.
The plot follows their attempts as CIA officers to find and capture a terrorist named “al-Saleem”, as the film takes place in the Middle East. It made great money in theaters and gets plenty of things right, but again: its overall quality lands Body of Lies here at number seven.
6 House of Gucci
Starring Lady Gaga and Adam Driver, this biographical crime film featured a star-studded supporting cast of names like Jared Leto, Jeremy Irons, Salma Hayek, and even a veteran of the genre in Al Pacino. The project chronicles the rising tension between Patrizia Reggiani (Gaga’s character) and Maurizio Gucci (portrayed by Driver) as their romantic involvement is muddied by their attempts to take control of the titular fashion brand.
In the end, House of Gucci (2021) was quite anticipated by film fans but came up just short of expectations from a qualitative perspective. Still, it left plenty to write home about, like the performances from Gaga and Leto. It lands here at number six.
5 Someone to Watch Over Me
As a thriller with a sleek and tangible neo-noir style, Someone to Watch Over Me (1987) succeeds in tonal resonance. It makes up in that regard for the halfhearted script — as do the performances of thespians such as Tom Berenger, Mimi Rogers, and most prominently Lorraine Braco. With those elements of filmmaking in mind, this could easily go down as the most underrated film on the list.
Critics weren’t over the moon with the dynamics of its characters, and it came up short of making back its $12.8 million budget at the worldwide box office. But when lastly accounting for the film’s engaging cinematography, there’s no doubt that Someone to Watch Over Me will hold up in the minds of film fans across the world.
4 All the Money in the World
Although this crime stint doesn’t carry anywhere near the name value of several other titles on this list, All the Money in the World (2017) should have gotten more love as a biographical crime drama of legitimate quality. It chronicles the real-life kidnapping of John Paul Getty III and his grandfather’s refusal to meet the extortion demands of the kidnappers.
Christopher Plummer portrayed the aforementioned, multi-billionaire grandfather, and even received a Best Supporting Actor nomination at the Academy Awards for his efforts. His portrayal of sheer power was the most notable element worth writing home about herein, along with another compelling performance from Michelle Williams. But All the Money in the World also stands out as a well-written thriller from start to finish, and the best of Scott’s more recent projects.
3 Matchstick Men
Although this garnered great reviews from critics upon release, Matchstick Men (2003) just barely made its money back at the worldwide box office and has since been thrown a bit by the modern wayside. For that reason, there’s a good argument that this is the most underrated title on the list — perhaps of Scott’s career, to be frank.
It follows a person with OCD spectrum disorder working as a con artist, whose plans with his partner — played by Nicolas Cage and Sam Rockwell, respectively — are muddied by the arrival of the former’s daughter. This plot facilitated some truly fascinating facets of filmmaking, from scriptwriting and editing to cinematography and acting. And the overall product showcased those elements to sheer perfection.
2 Thelma and Louise
This is among the most well-known films of Scott’s career, and it’s also up there as the most renowned. The titular roles were played by Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon respectively as they find themselves suddenly on the lam after accidentally killing a man. And to drive home the popularity of Thelma and Louise (1991) — it received six nominations at the 64th Academy Awards, with Callie Kouri winning Best Adapted Screenplay. Plus, it’s been selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the National Film Registry.
Those are some of the most revered accomplishments the film industry has to offer. But what remains truly worth writing home about here is the star-studded caliber of the rest of its cast: Harvey Keitel, Michael Madsen, and even an early performance from Brad Pitt. You probably already have, but if not, definitely check this one out.
1 American Gangster
With Denzel Washington portraying the primary character Frank Lucas, this epic, biographical crime drama chronicles his emotional unraveling as the powerful, titular gangster. And just as intense are many of the scenes featured herein — American Gangster (2007) exudes sheer passion in each frame of its carefully crafted narrative, even if it doesn’t get quite as much love from a modern point of view.
For those unfamiliar: it follows the aforementioned gangster who rose to power by smuggling cocaine into the United States via service planes that returned from the Vietnam War. The result was pure filmmaking mastery from start to finish, with engrossing plot points, witty dialogue, and indelible performances — Washington, Russell Crowe, and Ruby Dee among dozens of talented others were all at their best here inAmerican Gangster. The project as a whole should undoubtedly go down as the best crime film ever to be directed by Ridley Scott.