Bad people do terrible things in the Grand Theft Auto games. Admittedly, most of the protagonists are “good-ish” people who just happen to have loose moral compasses and find themselves in bad situations from which the only escape is doing terrible things, but still. They’re mostly awful people getting involved with drugs, theft, and murder. But they’re lots of fun, and if they let people live that life vicariously instead of in reality, then I think they’re doing the world a public service.
Here are some movies you might enjoy if you like the Grand Theft Auto games.
The Boondock Saints
The Boondock Saints is a movie about a couple of Irish-Catholic men who kill a man in “Self-defense” and take it as a sign from God that they should go around killing people the decide are evil. And then they do it. They get a handler, they’re chased by the FBI, and they believe they’re murdering people for the “right” reasons.
Sounds a lot like Grand Theft Auto, don’t you think?
There’s a sequel that’s not as good but has a similar premise, and both films have wound up as cult classics.
Many of the films on this list could conceivably have been a mission or two in a Grand Theft Auto game. Collateral follows a hitman and a cab driver who winds up being the hitman’s personal chauffeur for the night. The hitman needs to kill five people in order to get paid, and while there a couple of twists along the way, that’s pretty much it. One night, five murders, a lot of engaging dialogue.
Fast Five is a heist movie. It’s also the fifth Fast and Furious movie, of which it is the first heist movie. It’s the point in the franchise where it stopped being about cars and became more about its group of heroes teaming up to take out bad people. This one sees them go to Rio de Janeiro to steal $100 million from someone we’re told needs to have that money taken from him. A lot of it isn’t terribly worthwhile, but the actual heist and the attempted escape are both fantastic.
Heat is pretty much the action-crime movie, right? It follows a character on either side of the law as, well, crime things happen. I don’t want to spoil; if you haven’t seen it, you should, and you should do so with as little prior knowledge as possible. It also served as a big inspiration for Grand Theft Auto V, and specifically the mission “Blitz Play.”
Killing Them Softly
Killing Them Softly is a movie that a lot of people hated. It’s one of the few films in history to get an F on Cinemascore, which surveys people right after they watch a film. The reason for this is more down to a misleading trailer than a bad movie; it’s a slow-burn crime movie, not an action-thriller. And when people don’t get what they expect, it turns to disdain. It’s a pretty good movie with some not-to-subtle political messaging – it just isn’t what a lot of people expected.
Natural Born Killers
Natural Born Killers follows a couple of people who go around killing in hopes of getting the media’s attention. It’s a satire on the media and its obsession with violence, and given the attention that games like Grand Theft Auto get – or, at least, used to get – from the media simply for being violent and “mature,” it seems pretty fitting from that perspective. That it’s also about a couple of killers killing for the fun of the kill is just a cherry on top.
Reservoir Dogs follows a group of people both before and after something happened, but we don’t find out what that something is, exactly, until near the end. It’s a crime movie, and these aren’t great people, but they like dress nicely and they’re charismatic, so we want to follow them anyway, even when they’re killing or cutting off people’s ears. A lot of the film takes place afterward, in a warehouse, but it’s tense and kind of funny.
Scarface is one of the top rags-to-riches gangster movies we have. It might be at the very top. It’s one of the main story threads that the Grand Theft Auto games have, and it’s captured wonderfully here. And if you loved Vice City, you’ll see its influences from start to finish here.
Smokin’ Aces has drugs, violence, gangsters, shootouts, and a quirky sense of humor. It’s about a man who finds himself the target from various organizations – both sides of the law – who gets fought over … literally. They want him, and they’ll kill anyone who gets in their way to do so. That’s pretty much it, but it’s a lot of fun.
Taxi Driver follows a man with insomnia who goes to work as a taxi driver, falls in love with a girl, befriends a child prostitute, and also hates who filthy the streets of his city are getting, eventually deciding to do something about it. It could function as a prequel to a Grand Theft Auto game rather easily, and has some of the same satirical aspects of the games – if you read them as satire, of course.