If you’ve ever felt the want to lash out at people who have wronged you, you’ll recognize the appeal of movies like John Wick and other classic tales of revenge. There are so many revenge movies out there that it’s hard to narrow it down, but we think we’ve found the finest of the best that can be streamed, downloaded, or purchased on DVD if you’d rather stick with tangible media. We’ve included some of the best revenge films below, starting with a film with a name that says it all.
1. Revenge (2018)
This is the story of how an American woman (Matilde Lutz) becomes into a hardened woman after her husband and his hunting pals abandon and murder her in the Moroccan desert.
Because it’s a revenge film: Aside from conveying a powerful message about female empowerment in a gruesome and bloody way, Coralie Fargeat’s Revenge, one of the best Shudder original films, is also a title that says it all: a revenge story.
2. Kill Bill (2003-2004)
Having been left for dead while pregnant on what was supposed to be her wedding day, an ex-assassin (Uma Thurman) begins on an international quest to punish her former boss and ex-lover (David Carradine) and her vicious former companions.
In addition, before we had Matilda Lutz’s Jen in Revenge, we had Uma Thurman’s The Bride in Kill Bill Vol. 1 in 2003 and Kill Bill Vol. 2 the following year – writer and director Quentin Tarantino’s two-part ode to ’70s kung fu classics and spaghetti westerns that turned the action genre on its head with its provocatively gory and enchantingly balletic style.
3. John Wick (2014)
A retired assassin returns to work to punish the arrogant son of his former colleague after he robs and kills his dog shortly after the death of his ailing wife.
John Wick: Chapter 1 brought the “gun fu” style of “choreographic fighting” to the mainstream and made inventively mysterious world-building a more in-demand point of interest in the genre than it would have ever been.
4. Deadpool (2016)
A former mercenary (Ryan Reynolds) hopes to heal his terminal sickness by undergoing an experimental procedure that results in a terrible physical mutation and makes him immortal, which he exploits to seek down the man who messed up his face and his relationship with his fiancée.
Superhero movies would also undergo an important shift with the release of Deadpool, a comic-book character that Marvel Comics’ Ryan Reynolds was unquestionably born to play, a film that is both humorous and exhilarating and shamelessly R-rated.
5. Death Wish (1974)
After the murder of his wife, an architect (Golden Globe winner Charles Bronson) takes up a side profession as a vigilante, claiming that his lethal attacks on New York City’s ferocious muggers are self-defense.
When filmmaker Michael Winner’s grounded and satisfying adaptation of Brian Garfield’s novel became then-53-year-old Charles Bronson America’s favorite bad guy, it proved that vengeance might drive even the average individual to become a fatal purveyor of justice.
6. Mandy (2018)
Immediately following the murder of his girlfriend (Andrea Riseborough) in front of him, a lumberjack (Academy Award winner Nicolas Cage) goes on an unrelenting killing rampage against a dark cult leader, his dedicated followers, and a group of demonic motorcyclists in 1983.
Because it’s a revenge film: Our favorite badass actors portraying average people who are driven to vengeance are all over the place in Mandy, the surreal, acid-dipped, and action-packed heavy metal album cover brought to life by director Panos Cosmatos. Nicolas Cage gives one of the greatest and most wonderfully manic performances of his career.
7. Upgrade (2018)
Logan Marshall Green, a technophobic mechanic, gets implanted with an experimental device that allows him to walk, fight, and chase down the individuals who made him a quadriplegic and murdered his wife right in front of him in the near future.
In Upgrade, Logan Marshall Green’s average, unlikely hero gets some special (and much-needed) help to become a purveyor of justice in the form of a highly advanced artificial intelligence. The sophomore directorial effort of acclaimed horror movie filmmaker Leigh Whannell that is more action-packed but equally as thought-provoking as some of the best Black Mirror episodes so far.
8. The Crow (1994)
Brandon Lee, a rock star, is magically brought back from the dead with supernatural powers and a quest to avenge the people who killed him and his fiancee precisely a year ago on Devil’s Night.
As an example of why it’s an excellent revenge film, Alex Proyas’ wonderfully told version of James O’Barr’s iconic comic book series, The Crow, features an unexpected hero who receives some special and much-needed assistance in becoming a spirit of vengeance in the shape of a mystical entity.
9. The Revenant (2015)
After a near-fatal bear assault, a frontiersman (Leonardo DiCaprio) battles across treacherous terrain and bone-chilling temperatures to find and punish the fellow fur merchant (Tom Hardy) who murdered his son in front of his very eyes in 1823.
Why it’s a fantastic vengeance film: Hugh Glass almost rises from the dead in Alejandro Gonzalez Iárritu’s The Revenant, another visually stunning feast that brought Leonardo DiCaprio his first Academy Award win.
10. True Grit (2010)
To find and punish the vile scoundrel (Josh Brolin) who murdered her father in 1878, a bright young woman (Hailee Steinfeld) enlists the services of a grizzled, alcoholic, one-eyed U.S. Marshal (Jeff Bridges) and an uninvited Texas Ranger (Matt Damon).
Because it’s a revenge film: For me, Joel and Ethan Coen’s adaptation of Charles Portis’ famous novel True Grit is superior to the John Wayne western classic from 1969, and it landed a young Hailee Steinfeld her first Oscar nomination.
11. Blue Ruin (2013)
Macon Blair, a man on the streets, goes to the boyhood home where his parents were murdered in order to find and punish the killer, who has just been released from prison.
In this list, we have discussed many unusual vigilantes who seek revenge, but none come close to Macon Blair’s painfully amateur and dumb vigilantism in Blue Ruin, the chilling and heartbreaking cautionary tale from Green Room director Jeremy Saulnier, a master in brutal and grounded dramas.
12. Ocean’s Eleven (2001)
An ex-convict (George Clooney) and 10 other professional crooks plan an elaborate heist on the haughty Las Vegas casino owner (Andy Garcia) who is currently dating his ex-wife (the easily convinced Julia Roberts).
Steven Soderbergh’s irresistibly witty, remarkably clever, and damn near perfect modernization of the snatch-and-grab classic Ocean’s Eleven, which also boasts one of the coolest, star-studded ensembles that Hollywood could ever afford in the Ocean’s Eleven cast, proves that not all revenge tales have to be so dark, gritty, and morbid.