There’s nothing like a good criminal pursuit film to get your heart racing as you sit on the edge of your seat. Sometimes we’re cheering for the good guys, sometimes we’re cheering for the bad guys, and sometimes it’s not so easy to tell which side you should be on, but either way these movies are sure to keep you entertained. Here are ten great criminal pursuit films you can’t miss:
This Ron Howard film starring Mel Gibson sets the scene when a multimillion-dollar man’s (Gibson) son is kidnapped. When a police-advised ransom drop-off goes wrong, he instead appears on television to offer a bounty for the people who kidnapped his child, putting him in ill favor with the FBI with whom he already has a poor reputation.
2. Red Dragon
Prequel to both Silence of the Lambs and Hannibal, this movie tells the story of Will Graham (Edward Norton), retired FBI agent skilled at tracking serial killers. After his latest achievement of bringing Hannibal Lector (Anthony Hopkins) to justice, Graham has had enough excitement tracking serial killers. But a particularly gruesome killer known as the “Tooth Fairy” who kills entire families at once has Graham’s previous colleagues begging him to come back to the game. Graham turns to imprisoned Lector for advice on how to catch the killer, but little does he know Lector is closer to this killer than he knows and Graham’s family is the next victim.
3. Public Enemies
This Michael Mann film follows the final years of famous depression-era bank robber, John Dillinger (Johnny Depp) and his pursuit by the newly formed FBI. Labeled America’s first Public Enemy Number One, Dillinger must be craftier than ever to carry out his crimes and elude capture.
4. Catch Me If You Can
Perhaps one of the best-loved criminal pursuit movies, this Spielberg film stars Leonardo DiCaprio (Frank) who learns from an early age that he has a gift for hoaxing others and grows to become a master forger. This catches the attention of FBI agent Carl Hanratty (Tom Hanks) who makes it his mission to catch Frank at any cost. This chase seems to amuse Frank in what proves to be a charming pursuit film.
5. Zero Dark Thirty
This film follows a team of intelligence and military operatives as they round out their ten-year search for al Qaeda leader, Osama Bin Laden. This intense film was nominated for Academy Awards in Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Actress. It won the Academy Award for Best Sound Editing.
6. Minority Report
Another pursuit film by Steven Spielburg, this film introduces the concept of “pre-crime” in a world void of crime due to three psychics who create prophecies of crime that has not yet happened, allowing them to be prevented. When a detective in the pre-crime department, John Anderson (Tom Cruise), is identified by the psychics as a future killer of a man he has not yet met, Anderson must run from his own colleagues as he begins to realize that he might be framed.
7. The Bourne Identity
In this movie, Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) is an amnesiac that has been pulled from a river with two bullet wounds in his back. Not knowing who he is or what has happened to him, his only clue to answer his questions is a bank account number etched on a capsule which is implanted in his body. As he searches for his identity, he only realizes that he is being pursued and that he can trust no one. He begins to suspect that he may have been a spy or an assassin and that there’s something the CIA is trying to keep from him.
Niel McCauley (Robert Di Niro) is a successful career criminal specializing in “big” jobs with high risk and high reward. After a lifetime of crime, he has plenty of money to retire to New Zealand, but wants to plan one last job to end his career. Vincent Hanna (Al Pacino) is detective who is determined to catch McCauley.
9. The Fugitive
Dr. Richard Kimble (Harrison Ford) has been convicted of murdering his wife, and while he is being transported to prison, he is involved in a major collision with a train. Kimble survives the disaster and decides to hunt down the man he believes is actually responsible for his wife’s murder. U.S. marshal, Sam Gerard (Tommy Lee Jones) is determined to bring Kimble to justice no matter what the cost.
10. The Dark Knight
Part superhero movie, part criminal pursuit, this Christopher Nolan masterpiece features Batman’s (Christian Bale) pursuit of the Joker (Heath Ledger) as he threatens to terrorize Gotham and plunge the city into complete chaos.
What are your favorite criminal pursuit films? Are there any that didn’t make the list? Let us know in the comment section below.