Consider this your warning: If you intend to watch any of the movies listed herein and don't want to know in advance who the rat is, proceed with caution. While we'd consider those kinds of details a given when the movies in question are at least six years old, we are nothing if not considerate of when to keep a secret a secret. In other words, snitches we are not. Dwayne Johnson, however, oh, he'll squeal.
In the upcoming thriller Snitch, the man formerly known as The Rock finds himself desperate to free his wrongly-accused son and reluctantly dives into the bad-guy world in order to help the DEA take someone bigger down. The movie, directed by Ric Roman Waugh (Felon, In the Shadows) co-stars Susan Sarandon, Barry Pepper, Michael Kenneth Williams (Omar!), Benjamin Bratt and Nadine Velazquez.
And in honour of those who expertly blow whistles, we decided to create a list of the Top 5 Going Undercover Movies, where brave souls get cozy with criminals, often risking their lives and sometimes succumbing to a version of Stockholm Syndrome, to smoke out the baddies and let justice reign.
Won't you follow along as we find out Where My Snitches At?
|#5 Reservoir Dogs (1992)
And so a classic American crime movie was born. It took awhile to realize what it was we had on our hands, besides something that felt fresh, violent and darkly funny, but Quentin Tarantino's brash debut was undoubtedly one for the ages that turned from a story about a ragtag group of idiosyncratic criminals to an escalating hunt to suss out the mole amongst them. An ensemble cast to die for - Harvey Keitel, Steve Buscemi, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Chris Penn, even Tarantino himself - spend a lot of time pointing guns, mouthing off and trying to get away with diamonds, that it should be noted we never see actually get stolen, before the cops raid the warehouse and it's one hell of a ride before the rat identifies himself.
|#4 Serpico (1973)
Al Pacino certainly has an affinity for being in movies about undercover cops, sometimes playing them, like here in Serpico, or in the lesser-known 1980 vehicle Cruising, or as a man getting too chummy with an informant in number two on our list, Donnie Brasco. Pacino scored an Oscar nom, and won his first Golden Globe, for his hirsute portrayal of real-life cop Frank Serpico, a newbie NYPD officer who exposed corrupt cops when he started working as a plainclothes officer and soon found himself on the outs with every crooked man on the force. Spanning 12 years, Serpico is a movie about the most dangerous man alive - an honest cop - and the brave whistleblowing that would change his life forever.
|#3 Donnie Brasco (1991)
Remember when the only costume Johnny Depp needed to get into character was a moustache and a comb slicked with Brylcreem? Pre CGI-happy Depp was pitch-perfect as real-life FBI agent Joe Pistone who infiltrates the mafia and starts to identify with pseudo-father figure Sonny Black (Pacino) while his marriage (to Anne Heche, remember?!) starts to fall apart and the guilt over selling out his new mob family starts to overwhelm him. With strong supporting work from Pacino, Donnie Brasco is the kind of movie you have to watch when it's on TV, even if you've seen it a dozen times, for good reason.
|#2 Eastern Promises (2007)
David Cronenberg's one-two punch - or shiv to the ribs - of A History of Violence and Eastern Promises signalled a director who usually dabbled in the icky stuff taking a stab at the crime genre and emerging with a pair of immensely disturbing and well-acted movies. In Eastern Promises, Viggo Mortensen is front and centre as Nikolai, the driver and cleaner (which means what you think it does) to the powerful Russian mafia who works his way up the ranks doing bad things to worse people. The fantastic reveal at the end of the movie is done so matter-of-factly that it takes a few minutes to put the pieces together and see the genius in Steven Wright's screenplay, which makes us feel as hopelessly duped as the Russians.
|#1 The Departed (2006)
This American adaptation of Hong Kong flick Infernal Affairs was replete with an A-list cast and a two-for-one insider storyline with Billy Costigan (Leonardo DiCaprio) insinuating himself into the inner world of Boston mob boss Frank Costello (a ferocious Jack Nicholson) while Costello himself plants a rat in the state police in the form of Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon). So there's a lot of names to keep track of but Martin Scorsese's first Oscar win for Best Director is well-deserved as he tells a human story that allows for identification with the good guys and the bad and creates real tension that Ben Affleck would be wise to revisit. (I'm sorry, the ending of Argo, really?!) The Departed is a smartly-plotted movie where the star power of its cast surprisingly takes a backseat to the intriguing story and the bloodier bits.
What are some of your favourite going undercover/snitch movies? Add your thoughts below!
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