Whether it’s a jilted lover looking to get even with a former mate or a Mafia don trying to wipe out his brother’s killers, movies with revenge themes are proven winners. Like moths drawn to a flame, we can’t resist films in which the hero or protagonist exacts retribution.
Some film franchises are built around the revenge theme, such as John Wick, starring Keanu Reeves. He will reprise his role as super-assassin John Wick in the third entry to the movie franchise, “John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum,” which opens on May 17.
To help create the list of the best revenge movies, 24/7 Tempo reviewed 343 movies found on the user-created lists of revenge films found on Internet Movie Database (IMDb).
Many of the films based on revenge on this list are violent and can be bloody, such as the searing ‘70s classic “Taxi Driver” and the Quentin Tarantino-directed movies “Django Unchained” and “Inglourious Basterds.” Movies based on true events, such as “Spartacus,” place revenge in a historical context, with Kirk Douglas playing the titular role of the slave who lead a rebellion against his Roman oppressors. Movies with a revenge theme still can weave in romance, such as “The Princess Bride,” regarded as among the most popular romance movies of all time.
Other movies on this list, such as “Unforgiven,” are so well-regarded, they rank among the best movies of all time.
How appealing are revenge movies? Nineteen of the 25 movies on the list have a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 90% or better, and they represent a range of genres, from film noir, to foreign films, to Westerns.
To determine the best revenge movies, 24/7 Tempo began with 343 movies found on the user-created lists of revenge films found on Internet Movie Database (IMDb). Next, we narrowed down the list by choosing films that were the most popular with both amateur and professional viewers, considering the Rotten Tomatoes average critic and audience ratings and the IMDb average user ratings. We picked films with at least 10,000 user ratings between IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes and 10 approved “Tomatometer” critic reviews. We averaged the user ratings from Rotten Tomatoes and IMDb and weighted by the number of votes for each. The combined user rating was then averaged with the Rotten Tomatoes critic rating.
Once we had that list, we employed editorial discretion (and knowledge of specific films), deleting movies that didn’t have plots sufficiently driven by revenge and adding some that we deemed essential.