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The Best Revenge Movies You Can Watch Right Now

Revenge is best served with a bowl of popcorn. These movies dish up vengeance in all its forms, from retired assassins on a rampage to angry secretaries who are fed up with their boss.
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Have you ever fantasized about getting revenge on someone who wronged you? These movies turn that fantasy into reality. But be warned: most of them have a high body count, and there are very few happy endings.

Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan (1982)

Khannnnnn!!! Although Kirk’s agonized cry is now a meme, that doesn’t diminish what a great film The Wrath of Khan turned out to be. It’s one of the best Star Trek films, and that’s mostly down to Ricardo Montalban’s performance. Very few people can chew scenery with the same gusto as William Shatner, but Montalban’s whispering menace is a perfect counterpoint to Shatner’s bombastic bravado.

Read More: Who Would Win: Star Wars’ Empire or Star Trek’s Federation?

The Princess Bride

Revenge doesn’t have to be a grim business. Rob Reiner’s classic fantasy adventure film The Princess Bride has moments of darkness and violence, but it never forgets that it’s fundamentally a love story. Inigo Montoya’s tale of revenge for his slaughtered father is deeply satisfying—and in part, that’s because Mandy Patinkin channeled his grief over the loss of his own father shortly before filming started.

The Crow

It’s impossible to talk about The Crow without also talking about the tragedy that happened on set. Brandon Lee was killed by a prop gun before completing the film, and director Alex Proyas opted to use a stand-in to finish the remaining scenes. Although Lee’s death overshadows The Crow, it’s a darkly beautiful film above love and vengeance that Hollywood has tried—and failed—to reboot multiple times. Also, the soundtrack rocks.

9 to 5 (1980)

Dolly Parton, Lily Tomlin, and Jane Fonda star in this workplace revenge comedy. There’s a lot more to this movie than the iconic song. The trio of women are tired of dealing with their sexist boss (Dabney Coleman), who has been spreading rumors about having an affair with his secretary (Parton). They concoct a plan for revenge that quickly goes off the rails.

Titus (1999)

Shakespeare does revenge better than anyone else. I debated about going with Kenneth Branagh’s Hamlet for this list, but I feel like Julie Taymor’s adaptation of Titus Andronicus doesn’t get enough appreciation. It’s an inventive (and disturbing) film starring Sir Anthony Hopkins as a Roman leader returning from war only to sow the seeds of his own downfall. Everyone wants revenge on everyone else, and not to give too much away, but Titus is even more of a bloodbath than Hamlet.  

Oldboy (2003)

Speaking of bloodbaths, let’s take a look at Park Chan-wook’s twisted tale of revenge. It’s one of those films that you really only want to watch once—just make sure nobody spoils it for you. Dae-su is held in a room for 15 years without any idea who put him there. As the cornerstone of Parks’ Vengeance Trilogy, it’s a powerful and disturbing movie. Just make sure you watch the original Korean version and not the 2013 remake starring Josh Brolin.

Gladiator (2000)

Russell Crowe delivered a career-defining performance as Maximus, a Roman general who is betrayed by the upstart Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix) and forced into slavery after his family is murdered. Maximus literally fights his way through the ranks of gladiators in order to exact his revenge. The movie won Best Picture and Best Actor at the Oscars that year—and Ridley Scott claims to be working on the long-awaited sequel now.

Promising Young Woman (2020)

Emerald Fennell’s directorial debut is an intense experience. Carey Mulligan plays Cassie, the promising young woman in question. She’s haunted by the assault and later death of her best friend and vows to get revenge on everyone who played a part in it. Her quest for vengeance drives her to extremes, and at times, it’s hard to watch—not because of the violence, but because it’s so infuriatingly plausible. Fennell picked up a well-deserved Oscar for Best Original Screenplay.

Mad Max (1979)

Police officer Max Rockatansky (Mel Gibson) witnesses a vicious biker gang murder his wife and child. Fueled only by the desire for revenge, he sets out to kill the bikers one by one. While the basic plot of Mad Max isn’t that different from a dozen other revenge movies, what sets it apart is George Miller’s vision of a dystopian future.

Miller made the film on a shoestring budget (at least compared to most action movies), and not only did it go on to become the most profitable film of all time and spawn multiple sequels, but it also single-handedly established the Australian film industry as a force to be reckoned with.   

Memento (2000)

How is a man supposed to get revenge when he can’t remember who he needs to kill? Leonard Shelby’s last memory is of his wife being murdered, and although he vows vengeance, he’s hampered by his inability to form new memories. Shelby relies on Polaroids, hastily scrawled notes, and even tattoos to piece together the narrative. Writer and director Christopher Nolan skillfully uses a nonlinear structure to leave the audience just as bewildered as the main character. Yes, the film is over 20 years old—but if you haven’t seen it, then avoid spoilers until you get the chance to watch Memento for yourself.

The First Wives Club (1996)

So many revenge stories start with a murdered wife or girlfriend. The First Wives Club stars Goldie Hawn, Bette Midler, and Diane Keaton as a trio of women whose ex-husbands leave them for younger women. This would make an excellent double-feature with 9 to 5, now that I think of it. There are so few films about women who are over 40, and The First Wives Club proved to be a huge hit when it was released. It’s almost like not every revenge movie needs to be about a lone man seeking justice.

Unforgiven (1992)

Although Unforgiven features Clint Eastwood’s Will Munny exacting vengeance on a crew of violent, depraved cowboys, he isn’t doing it on his own behalf. After being disfigured in an attack, Delilah Fitzgerald puts out a bounty on the men who did it. Will thought his days as an outlaw were behind him, but he is reluctantly drawn into the web of violence, corruption, and revenge. It’s one of the greatest Westerns of all time.

Léon: The Professional (1994)

This time, it’s a young girl who wants revenge. Originally called Léon in France and The Professional in the US, this movie stars Jean Reno, Gary Oldman, and 12-year-old Natalie Portman in her screen debut. After her family is murdered, Mathilda enlists the unwilling help of Léon, her neighbor, who is a hitman. The two of them form an unlikely bond as he teaches her the tools of his trade. Luc Besson also made Taken with Liam Neeson, proving that he understands how to craft a revenge thriller.

Mandy (2018)

I’m contractually obligated to include a Nicolas Cage movie on every film list, but Mandy would have earned a spot here regardless. This disorienting horror film takes cues from Dario Argento and the ultra-violent revenge flicks of the 1970s, but there’s so much more to it than that. It’s the kind of movie that just has to be experienced. Cage is fully, gloriously wild in Mandy, unleashing what feels like his final form. The film kicked off Cage’s current career renaissance, and I couldn’t be happier.

Read More: Top 5 Most Unhinged Nicolas Cage Performances

Lady Snowblood (1973)

You may have noticed that there are no Quentin Tarantino films on this list. Although he could have earned a spot with Django Unchained, Inglorious Basterds, or Kill Bill, I decided to go with one of the movies he ripped off instead. I said what I said. Lady Snowblood is a tale of revenge, told in a disjointed fashion and soaked in fake blood. It stars Meiko Kaji as Yuki, a beautiful assassin who is determined to get revenge on the men who destroyed her family. It’s a wonderfully stylized film, and it’s impossible to look away from Kaji’s face every time she’s on camera. Lucy Liu did a passable imitation in Kill Bill, but it doesn’t compare to the real thing. You can see a shot-for-shot comparison of the films here.

Mean Girls (2004)

Mean Girls might not have the same stakes as the other movies on this list, but it explores many of the same themes. As Cady Heron tries to get revenge on the Plastics, the high school clique who bullies her, she finds herself becoming more and more like them. The idea of sacrificing your own identity in the pursuit of revenge is nothing new, but it’s fascinating to see it applied to a teen comedy.

True Grit (2010)

While the original True Grit starring John Wayne is a classic, the 2010 remake by the Coen Brothers might just be a masterpiece. It stars Jeff Bridges as Rooster Cogburn Hailee Steinfeld as the fourteen-year-old girl who hires him to get revenge on the men who killed her father. In terms of plot, it’s not so different from Léon—and like that movie, it also features an outstanding performance by a young actress destined for greatness. Matt Damon and Josh Brolin round out the stellar cast. True Grit lacks the trademark weirdness of the Coens’ other films; it’s just a pure, glorious Western.

John Wick (2014)

We have debut directors Chad Stahelski and David Leitch to thank for John Wick—and for the resurgence in Keanu Reeves’ career. Fun fact: Stahelski and Leitch had previously worked as stunt coordinators and served as stunt doubles for The Matrix. They always knew that Keanu is a star—even if the rest of us forgot for a while. After losing his wife to an illness, the only thing he has to remember her by is the puppy she gifted him. When gangsters kill that puppy and steal his car, Wick goes on a stone-cold rampage. What the gangsters didn’t know is that he used to be an assassin—and he hasn’t lost his edge.

Read More: We Don’t Deserve Keanu Reeves