If you enjoyed David Ayer’s dirty-cop thriller Street Kings you’re not alone. Sporting an all-star cast and a terrific script, it whipped around the bleak criminal underworld in a pulsating and bruising manner. As one of our guilty pleasure movies from the early 2000’s, we’ve compiled a list of similar crime dramas that offer up a slew of crooked officers, shady crime lords and tug-of-war contests between morals and greed.
Here are 7 great movies similar to Street Kings for you to binge on next:
Narc is a dark and compelling thriller about an undercover narcotics officer, Nick Tellis, who gets dragged into a murder mystery. Matched with a hulking menace of a partner (played to perfection by Ray Liotta), Tellis goes spiraling down a rabbit hole of revenge and violence. Joe Carnahan’s direction is very similar to David Ayer’s making Narc an especially great pairing with Street Kings. It almost feels like it exists in the same universe as Street Kings, and that isn’t necessarily one you want to be a part of. Be careful, Liotta gets downright scary in this one.
2. Brooklyn’s Finest
Director Antoine Fuqua made quite the name for himself after Training Day was released (another Street Kings contemporary that you’ll read about later). However, Brooklyn’s Finest can also be counted among his most enthralling pieces of work. Like Street Kings, it contains a star-studded lineup and follows a group of cops who get caught up in some not-so-admirable dealings. There are a lot of drugs, a lot of betrayal and a lot of questionable morals on show. It’s a great addition to any modern crime drama library.
3. The Departed
Moving along we have Martin Scorsese’s epic action-thriller – The Departed. While corrupt cops have made their home in the previous two entries, the Departed seems to stretch that theme to the very limit leaving you wondering if anyone can be trusted. It’s jam-packed with betrayal, violence and plenty of twists and turns to keep you on the edge of your seat throughout. If it’s been a while since you last saw it then this is a superb option for you to binge on next.
4. Triple 9
Australian director John Hillcoat gave us a slick and enticing crime drama with 2016’s Triple 9. The movie revolves around a crooked cop (Anthony Mackie) looking to plan the heist of a lifetime. The only roadblock? His incorruptible partner, played by Oscar winner Casey Affleck. Hillcoat’s movie is an adrenaline rush of a story, pushed forward by a rapid-fire script and a stacked cast, much like Street Kings. It flew under the radar but it’s well worth checking out when you’re looking for more dirty cops and their unsavory schemes.
Director Clark Johnson is best known for his work on HBO’s masterpiece series The Wire, so you can bet he knows crime and cops well. His big screen adaptation of S.W.A.T. wasn’t the runaway success that some had hoped for but it still had enough crime drama and thrills to keep viewers engaged. Similar to Street Kings, S.W.A.T. relies on its cop-centered plot and a well-known cast, led by Samuel L. Jackson and Colin Farrell. It contains more hire-wire action than any other movie on this list so if that’s what you’re interested in, sit back and relax, it won’t let you down.
Director Oren Moverman is best known for his character-driven dramas so when he directed Rampart, we knew we were in for something special. Sure enough, Rampart is easily one of the best films on this list. A crooked cop drama like Street Kings and others listed above, Rampart has something the others don’t: a wildly entertaining and transformative performance from Woody Harrelson. Harrelson plays a tough, uncompromising LAPD officer who takes no prisoners and pulls no punches. It’s a shame he didn’t receive many awards for his work here because, next to Denzel Washington’s turn in Training Day, he gives one of the best performances on show.
7. Training Day
If you haven’t found anything thus far that piques your interest, why not settle with one of the greatest crime-thrillers of all time – Antoine Fuqua’s Training Day. As the smash hit that rightfully earned Denzel Washington an Academy Award, it set a high bar for all other cop dramas since. It’s a powerhouse of acting and tension, taking us deep into the dangerous universe of corrupt cops and undercover officers. It shares a lot of similar themes with Street Kings and while it also has a stellar cast you should make no mistake: Training Day is Denzel Washington’s tour de force. He is irresistible from start to finish. Any fan of Street Kings should wisely watch Training Day as well.