From Punk Detective to Mobster Thriller: What Makes a Great Crime Movie?
What makes a great crime movie? A good crime movie must have the perfect balance between entertainment and realism. It must create suspense and drama, while still maintaining a sense of believability. Great crime movies can be set in any time period and can range from punk detective stories to mobster thrillers.
To make an engaging crime movie, there must be an unpredictable protagonist. This doesn’t necessarily mean a criminal who is out for justice—characters can be law enforcement, private investigators, hitmen, and more. It’s important for the audience to root for the protagonist, regardless of their role in the movie, and to surprise the audience with unexpected arc twists.
In addition, a great crime movie needs a compelling antagonist. This person should possess a formidable standing in the criminal underworld. Ultimately, the protagonist must overcome this character— and the audience must see that the antagonist’s defeat was earned.
Great Crime Movies Play with Expectations
Great crime movies know how to challenge expectations. They don’t follow the same tropes that other crime films use. This includes having an unreliable narrator, or having a major plot point depend on a red herring or false assumption.
When done well, these unexpected plot points can cause the audience to question everything that has happened up to that point. This creates a stronger emotional connection with the film and provides more realistic context.
It’s possible to take audience expectations even farther by introducing characters or story lines that go against everything typically seen in crime films. This allows for a more creative approach to the story and gives more room for character development.
Crime Movies Should Dive into Moral Dilemmas
Crime films should be able to delve into deep moral questions, such as how far is too far in pursuing justice. With this type of question, a great crime movie should force its audience to think and should offer no easy answers.
In addition, this type of moral issue should be explored by the protagonist. This gives them a chance to resolve their internal conflict and display the different parts of their character. It also makes it easier for the audience to connect with them on an emotional level.
This moral exploration should also be seen in the antagonist. A truly great crime movie will paint the antagonist as more than just the bad guy, showing how they may have acted with a sense of morality or honor.
Crime Movies Should Push Boundaries
A great crime movie should push the boundaries of what is generally accepted. This can mean introducing graphic imagery, breaking social taboos, or portraying characters in an unconventional light.
It’s important to create an atmosphere that’s tense and uncertain. This type of atmosphere will make it easier for the audience to connect with the characters and to truly understand their motivations.
The boundaries pushed in crime movies can also be used to comment on society and politics. While it may not be the focus of the story, this type of social commentary can add to the overall narrative and provide a more realistic view of the crime.
Crime Movies Should Have a Resonating Theme
The best crime movies have an overarching theme. This theme should be one that resonates with the audience and can be applied to real life situations.
It could be a more obvious theme, such as justice, revenge, or loyalty. Or a film could explore themes such as morality, poverty, or prejudice. No matter what theme is chosen, it should be explored in an honest, realistic way.
The characters should be able to relate to each other and to the theme. This helps the audience to truly understand the story and the characters. It also allows the audience to empathize with the characters, creating a more meaningful experience.
Crime Movies Should Have Memorable Storylines
A great crime movie should have an engaging storyline. This can be done through the introduction of surprising plot twists, unexpected character arcs, and more.
Having an unpredictable storyline adds an element of surprise and keeps the audience guessing. It also makes the movie more enjoyable for repeat viewings, as there’s always something new to discover.
To make the storyline and screenplay even stronger, it’s important to create believable and fleshed out characters. Each character should have a clear purpose and should be essential to the story. This also creates an emotional connection with the audience, as they are able to relate and empathize with the characters.