The 10 best Revenge movies of all time, ranked by letterboxd
Since launching in 2011, film fans have used the Letterboxd social platform to share their love of the medium. It’s the perfect place to rate and review movies; and occasionally participate in showdowns organized by the site.
One of those showdowns gave users the chance to choose their top ten revenge movies, stories about the destructive power of this often horrifying act. The ten most chosen revenge films in this tournament are admirable achievements, out QUentin Tarantino‘s complex WWII epic Inglourious BasterdsTo Christopher nolan‘s rule-breaking masterpiece Memory.
Updated March 22, 2023 by Hannah Saab:
With fans already buying tickets for John Wick: Chapter 4 (Premiering March 24, 2023) is the perfect time to rewatch or discover some of the best films about revenge.
10 ‘Gladiator’ (2000)
Aren’t you entertained? Letterboxd users certainly are, since a large proportion of them are mentioned Ridley ScottOscar Winner for Best Picture gladiator as one of her favorite revenge films. The film tells the story of Maximus Decimus Meridius (Russell Crowe) and shows how the high-ranking Roman soldier is forced into slavery and works his way up to exact revenge on the treacherous Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix).
The known story is moving and tragic, but also full of emotions, brutal action and exciting set pieces. It’s beautifully made and its story is nothing short of compelling, making it a worthy addition to the list of the top most compelling revenge films ever made.
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9 “The Revenant” (2015)
The revenant may be best remembered as the movie that finally came Leonardo DiCaprio his well-deserved Oscar, but it’s also much more than that. It’s the harrowing story of a frontier worker who seeks revenge on those who pronounced him dead.
Possibly one of the darkest revenge movies of the 2010s The revenant is absolutely stunning. While smaller films of this nature tend to glorify or even romanticize the notion of revenge, director Alejandro G. Inárritu portrays it for what it really is: brutal, soul-destroying poison that is ultimately useless.
8th “Once Upon a Time in the West” (1968)
It’s hard to say which is the best movie of Sergio Leone, because he has so many great ones. But when a case is to be made for one, many feel it Once upon a time in the westone of the greatest Westerns of all time, is an easy choice.
Leone creates a brilliant deconstruction of progress, revenge and the Western genre in this film about two men who protect a woman’s country from being taken over by the railroad. It’s an extremely complex narrative worthy of its three-hour runtime and so loved by letterboxed users.
Watch on Prime Video
7 ‘Gone Girl’ (2014)
Not many filmmakers are able to turn the thriller genre into a terrifying experience so effectively David Fincher. Ex girlfriendone of his best works, depicts a man in the media spotlight who becomes the prime suspect in his wife’s disappearance.
Impeccably made and with Rosamund Pike This film gives a superb performance as Amy Dunne and is as close to a horror film as a thriller can get without actually being a horror film. It’s a brilliant exploration of identity, femininity and revenge in relation to power.
Watch on HBO Max
6 ‘Memory’ (2000)
When asked what Christopher Nolan’s best film is, the answers will certainly vary. But Memory, one of his earliest appearances, is arguably the most creative and admirable film he has ever made. Told in reverse chronological order, it is the story of a man with anterograde amnesia who tracks down the man who murdered his wife.
However, the challenging structure is by no means the only thing the film has to offer. Through a cleverly told revenge story, it shows the amazing struggles people go to to give their lives some semblance of meaning.
Watch on HBO Max
5 “Inglourious Basterds” (2009)
Inglourious Basterdsa historical drama about a group of American World War II soldiers who meet up with a French-Jewish teenager with a mysterious past usually tops Tarantino’s list of best films.
Aside from having several of the most gripping scenes in 2000s cinema, as well as one of fiction’s most intimidating and memorable antagonists in the form of Christopher Walzby Hans Landa Inglourious Basterds twists and turns the story in a very interesting way, with an intriguing revenge story at its core.
Watch on Sling TV
4 ‘Django Unleashed’ (2012)
Yet another modern classic from Tarantino, Django Unchained tells the story of a freed American slave who, with the help of a German bounty hunter, sets out to save his wife from a ruthless plantation owner.
For better or for worse (and for the majority of Letterboxd users, apparently, it was the former), Tarantino’s style is stronger than ever here, shifting from unrelenting cartoonish violence to dramatic social themes. All in all, however, what the contemporary revenge film gives django its strength is the empowering payback story it tells.
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3 ‘John Wick’ (2014)
2014, Director Chad Stahelski took the world by storm John Wicka stylish action film about an ex-hitman (masterfully played by Keanu Reeves), who comes out of retirement to track down the gangsters who humiliated him and killed his puppy.
While most modern American action films have been criticized for being dull, boring and uninteresting, John Wick manages to tell a simple yet compelling story and use it as the basis for intricately choreographed, beautifully edited action set pieces. It’s not surprising that the 2014 film has spawned a hugely successful franchise with a global following.
2 ‘Age’ (2003)
Not to be confused with Spike Lee‘s significantly inferior remake of the same name, Park ChanwookThe concluding chapter of his Vengeance trilogy follows a businessman mysteriously imprisoned who seeks revenge on his captors after his release.
During the entire term of old boy, there’s always this scary feeling that it’s not going to go well for anyone. It’s no spoiler to say the sentiment is warranted. The film is gruesome and utterly devastating, largely due to an iconic plot twist that changes everything about its story. Few stories depict revenge better than something absolutely horrific.
1 ‘Kill Bill: Vol. 1’ (2003) & ‘Kill Bill: Vol. 2’ (2004)
Letterboxd actually considers these to be two separate films, but since Tarantino conceived them as a complex entity with two partners, it’s fair to group them together. They tell the story of the bride (Uma Thurman), a mysterious character betrayed by her employer and other assassins, and how she lives to plot her revenge.
The bride is pretty much the symbol of the revenge film genre, and there are many good reasons for that. Of the idiosyncratic non-stop brutality Kill Bill: Vol. 1 to the more conversational and thematic nature of Vol 2, kill Bill is the ultimate analysis of the concept of revenge.
NEXT: Revenge movies that never end well for anyone
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