The search for revenge is one of the most common subjects in movies, especially thrillers. Revenge is likely a close third behind love and crimes for money. If done well, a revenge movie can be gratifying to watch unfold. Here are the 20 best revenge movies of all time:
1 - The Count of Monte Christo (2002) based on the novel by Alexandre Dumas. On the eve before his wedding, Edmond Dantès is wrongly imprisoned by a conspiracy of his best friend, along with the prosecutor, and others in his life. While in prison for 14 years, he learns from an older fellow prisoner how to fence, read, and also learns the location of the richest treasure ever buried. He escapes, finds the treasure and becomes the richest man in Europe. He then sets a plan in motion to get revenge on those who imprisoned him. The ultimate vengeance story.
2 - Death Wish (1974) Charles Bronson becomes an enraged vigilante, and seeks revenge against the street punks who murdered his wife, going after any street thugs and muggers along the way.
3 - Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn (1982) Kahn's vengeance against Kirk and the Enterprise. His fury drives the movie.
4 - Cape Fear (1967) Gregory Peck, Robert Mitchum. A man released after 8 years in jail stalks and terrorizes the lawyer who put him away. Remade in 1991 with Robert De Niro.
5 - Death Sentence (2007) Kevin Bacon. After his son is murdered by a street gang at a convenience store, the father seeks his own revenge against them. The gang in turn wants to get back at the father for killing their brother. This sets in motion a revenge for revenge cycle that seems unstoppable.
6 - Leon: the Professional (1994) Directed by Luc Besson. A professional assassin goes on a revenge mission of his own, after rescuing a young girl from a bloody police raid.
7 - Point Blank (1967) After being double-crossed by his wife and friend, a man goes after the mob to get back a seemingly small amount of money.
8 - Friday the 13th (1978) Mrs. Voorhees seeks revenge for the death of her son, Jason.
9 - Payback (1999) Mel Gibson, Kris Kristofferson. A man is shot by his wife and friend, and left to die.
He survives and comes back to get his money back, and get revenge. A loose remake of Point Blank.
10 - Oldboy (2013) remade from a 2003 Korean movie. Someone is going to extraordinary lengths to get revenge on our leading man, even imprisoning him for years, and he needs to find out who.
11 - Law Abiding Citizen (2009) A man frustrated by the legal system, embarks on a complicated plan for revenge against his family's killers, the district attorney, and everyone involved with the case.
12 - The Crossing Guard (1995) Jack Nicholson. After his daughter is killed in a hit-and-run, her father waits for Booth, the offender, to get out of prison, then tells Booth he will kill him in 3 days. As the week comes to a close, both men are headed for a breakdown. A tense, under-appreciated revenge movie.
13 - Kick-Ass (2010) After a superhero is killed, his daughter and friend go after the killers in a rampage of slicing and dicing and shooting.
14 - Sleepers (1996) Four boys are abused in a detention center as kids. 10 years later they see a chance for revenge against their abusers.
15 - Lucky Number Sleven (2006) Bruce Willis puts together a complex plot to get back at 2 competing crime bosses for something they did many years earlier.
16 - Revenge (1990) Vengeance with many plot twists, it's hard to say anything without spoilers.
17 - Get Carter (1971) A tough gangster goes after his brother's killers.
18 - The Big Heat (1953) After his wife is killed, a ruthless cop leaves the police force and becomes a furious vigilante.
19 - Extremities (1986) Farrah Fawcett gets revenge on a man who invaded her home and tried to violate her.
20 - The Last House on the Left (2009) After brutally attacking two girls, a gang takes shelter in an old house. They don't realize the house belongs to one of the girl's parents, who plan to get revenge in a vicious manner.
Straw Dogs (1971) is often considered a revenge movie, but it's really more about protecting your home. Regardless, it's a good film and deserves a spot at #21.
List of recommended revenge movies.