Finest Crime Movie Remakes that Kept Us at the Seat-Edge

Vighnesh Nagathan

It’s always a thrill to watch a film tagged `crime genre’. The excitement is likely to double if the film is the remake of a celebrated cult film in the past. But seldom can the nouveau film directors cause the thrill and upshot the original films had created. But for a few exceptions, the majority of crime movie remakes have done a good job; some movies are even better than the originals. Rarely, films have just adopted the basic elements that made the old ones great and spun a new tale that apparently has more takers. We will list 10 finest new movie versions, which lived up to the archetypes.

The Italian Job

The 2003 remake of the English crime comedy, which turned out to be one of the most favorite films in the genre, recently. The film is chic with the inclusion of plenty of interesting elements to suit the changed times. Based on the 1969 cult classic of the same name, the plot revolves around a group of thieves who were cheated on their supposedly ‘final and biggest heist’ by one among themselves. How they avenge the traitor forms the rest of the story. The movie is notable for its punch lines and fun-filled action choreography —especially redrawing the Mini Cooper ride sequence from the older version. With an all-star cast, the flick is a delight to watch.

The Taking of Pelham 123

John Travolta at his best. A thrilling ride in a metro train hijacked by a crazy scientologist and his crew is the heat of the film. Travolta, playing the hijacker, really works out the terror factor with cocky mannerisms and unpredicted mood swings. Denzel Washington plays the nice family man railway employee ‘Walter Garber’ who persuades and tricks ‘Ryder’ (Travolta) to release the people. They say it doesn’t match 1970’s flick featuring a subway car hijacking, but the young generation seems okay with it. Hyper kinetic visuals and impressive performance from lead actors are the highlights of the film. Given that the film was released post- 9/11 increased its significance.

The Firm

The film differs from the glamorous portrayals of criminals and plots of high-profile heist. The Firm is, in fact, the portrayal of the ordinary local thieves we see in our neighborhood. It revolves around the violent lives of a gang of “West Ham United” soccer hooligans in 1980sEngland. The main activities of the gang include petty thefts and beating up the supporters of rival teams. The movie has a realistic tone with an incredible 80s sound track to its credit. The depiction of chaotic scenes by battling mobs and the police struggling to keep peace trigger related images in our minds. The 2009 film, directed by Nick Love, was the re-creation of a 1989 BBC film that starred Gary Oldman, but tells the story from a different character’s point of view.

The Thomas Crown Affair

Though the film was a remake, it elicited warmer response than the original film. The old film says the story of a millionaire (played by Steve McQueen) who is bored with his life in pursuit of some thrill. The film was a success and has its share of criticizers as well. But the remake was fully charmed by cool Pierce Brosnan in the lead.  The new flick switched the subject of burglary to a Monet painting. The former Bond donned the role of the master brain behind the robbery, and tweaks in the original story and motivation made it more believable. The result was more positive reviews for re-imagining the once-trendsetter.


A remake of an Argentinean film Nine Queens, the director of ‘Criminal’ did his best to be loyal to the original. The cast includes John C. Reilly (of Days of Thunder,Chicagofame) playing an ostensible con man and Maggie Gyllenhaal. The plot revolves around the titular con artiste along with his inexpert partner trying to sell a fake Silver Certificate note to a new rich collector in town. Unlike many other foreign-language remakes, the film was received well, might be because the original was still not available in US.

The Great Train Robbery

One of the earliest innovative motion pictures in many aspects of film-making, it was remade to receive a nice response. The original 12-minute 1903 edition of The Great Train Robbery, a silent movie, revolves around a gang of merciless bandits capturing a cargo train somewhere inAmerica. The film was regarded as a milestone in cinema history and is credited as one of the first narrative films ever. The film has inspired directors like Martin Scorsese and Ridley Scott who paid homage to the cult film in ‘Goodfellas’ and ‘American Gangster’, respectively. Though the remake didn’t show full justice to the original, as a shot-for-shot recreation, it has, all the same, theatrical thrill.

Ocean’s Eleven

Ocean’s Eleven, a rat pack caper movie in 1960s, is forgettable compared to the all-star cast remake in 2001. The 2001 movie was another heist film but with marvelous plot, witty characterization and unprecedented twists. If the older version was just a reason for Sinatra and his crew to ham it up in Vegas for a couple of hours, the remake is way ahead of that. Energetic screenplay, enjoyable directorial flare and a lingering soundtrack spiced up the movie to a thrilling experience.

The Departed

This movie by the master director Martin Scorsese is a remake of theHong Kongcult movie Internal Affairs. The Departed cast has many high-end stars inHollywood, including Jack Nicholson, Matt Damon, Leonardo Dicaprio, Mark Wahlberg, Martin Sheen and Vera Farmiga. The plot is about a police mole infiltrating the mob and a mob mole infiltrating the police. The film is complicated enough to make Memento look like a Transformer 2. You will be surprised to see how Mark Wahlberg and Damon look akin until you watch them together in the movie. Jack Nicholson is outstanding as mob boss Frank Costello, Dicaprio excels as a depressed undercover cop and Mark Wahlberg, to our astonishment, depicts the most foul-mouthed officer ever in theBostonpolice force. The movie has bagged four academy awards and first-time Oscar for the director.


The 1983 remake of the cult classic gangster film of 1932 of the same name was based on the arch-gangster Al Capone, enacted by a legendary Paul Muni. But the remake, loosely based on the original, ends up scintillating than the old one with none another than Al Pacino enacting the role. The movie fetched far more appreciation than the original, making it one of the iconic films of the century. There is a message in the film somewhere, but it is immersed in all the explosive action, and classic lines are tossed across the screen like so much white powder.


The film is exceptional for bringing face to face, for the first time, Al Pacino and Robert De Niro, two greatest actors of the generation. Add up to the heat, visionary director Michael Mann and his ultra-cool signature visual style, you get one of the best movies of the century. Films seldom picture the relationship between cops and robbers (though one can’t forget the `Catch me if you Can’ from Spielberg). The plot pretty much revolves around a professional thief and a detective facing against each other. Soon they understand that their lifestyles have a lot in general. The screenplay banks on the blistering performances of leading protagonists who have handled the roles brilliantly. The movie was borrowed from one of Mann’s earlier works, the TV movie L.A. Takedown, in which the director made a scaled-down version when he felt thatHollywoodis highly unlikely to back up the project. However, after more than a decade homework and production, it was definitely worth the wait.


One thought on “Finest Crime Movie Remakes that Kept Us at the Seat-Edge

  • September 8, 2011 at 2:43 pm

    Speaking of remakes, has anyone heard advance word on “Straw Dogs”? Rotten Tomatoes has no freshness score as yet, which may be a bad sign.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *