! /articles/Underrated90scrimemovies

The Internet's Oldest Drive-In Movie Resource

Underrated 90s crime movies

by Released : 2023-08-04

1. One False Move (1992)


Billy Bob Thorton’s first film, which he also wrote. The film follows three criminals on the run from the police from LA to Houston to Arkansa. The film was initially supposed to be released straight to DVD, but strong reviews from critics led to a theatrical release. The film currency holds a 95% on rotten tomatoes. Part of the 90s crime indie wave directed by Carl Franklin, who was a tv character actor in the 1970s and 1980s. Franklin directed two of the best crime movies of the 90s. One False Move (1992) being one of them. Had a small budget of only 2.5 million and failed to even recoup that small budget making only 1.5 million. The rest of the cast, full of mostly TV actors, is great. Cyda Williams is electric, Billy Bob Thorton is menacing, and Bill Paxton gives the best performance of his career.

2. A Perfect World (1993)

Kevin Costner was the number 1 actor in the world in 1993! After some beloved films in the late 1980s, Costner started the decade strong with Dances with Wolves (1990). The film made nearly 500 million dollars at the box office and won multiple awards. Costner followed it up with JFK (1991), Robin Hood (1991), and The Bodyguard (1992), which made 200 million, 390 million, 411 million. Clint Eastoowd had been both a commercial and critical Star since the late 1960s. Eastwood was fresh off of his biggest box office success with Unforgiven (1992). Two of Hollywood's most popular leading men coming together should have been box office gold and an instant classic! Instead, despite positive reviews the film flopped hard at the American Box office making only 31 million against a 30 million dollar budget. The film made 102 million overseas for a worldwide box office of 135 million. In the Line of Fire also released in 1993 made 87 million overseas showing Eastwood's international popularity. Costner previous 1990s films were also popular overseas. 135 million might not seem like an underrated movie. However, this is a misleading box office due to the film’s nonexistent popularity in the U.S. The film received no award recognition and is not available on any streaming service. The film also co stars Laura Dern, who gives a fiery performance as a young criminologist. Eastwood once again plays a world weary cop and is perfect. Kevin Costner gives the best performance of his entire career as an intelligent criminal and  escaped prisoner Robert “Butch” Haynes: one of the most endearing complex film characters put to screen. Bradley Whitford long before Get Out (2018) showed why he could play an effective creep. And T.J. Lowther gives one of the best child performances ever! The film eerily similar to City Heat (1984) for Eastwood’s co-stars. Conster would follow this up with Waterworld which later called his career to stall. Burt Reynolds, co-star of City Heat, was one of the most popular actors in Hollywood in the mid 1980s and had been for a decade. However, his career like Costner would also decline until later making a comeback.

3. Devil in a Blue Dress (1995)


A 27 million dollar budget and despite Denzal proven starpower crimson tide also came out this year and made 157 million. However, the film bombed at the box  office making only 22 million. Carl Franklin directed One False movie two years prior, one of the best crime films of the 1990s. This film is just as good, Franklin would later direct Denzal in another underrated crime film Out of time. An immensely talented director who is still active in TV deserves all the offers he wants. There have been many 1940s based movies most sadly regulated to TV or cheaply made. However, if you look hard enough there are quite a few good one's. The top of that genre is of course Chinatown (1974). Only a year later there was another masterpiece Farewell my lovely (1975) starring the perfectly casted Roberted Mithum as Philip Monroe. This film is right behind those in this sub genre. Denzal is surrounded by an all star cast. Don Chedale is menacing here and reminds me of Batman's archenemies. Tom sizemore once again steals the show in another 90s crime film in only a brief amount of time as an old fashioned 1940s mafioso henchman. Jennifer Beals gives the best performance of her career as another great noir fatale. The great character Maury Chaykin is perfectly cast as the mob boss type character. The cars, the costumes, down to the houses everything looks authentic.


4. A Simple Plan (1998)

A Simple Plan (film) - Wikipedia


A trio of great performances Billy Bob Thorton and Bill Paxton's third film together. Akin to Fargo and pardoied in an great  American Dad epidose. Roger Ebert loved it and it was his 4th favorite film of that year depsite postive crtical revies the film only made 16 million against a 17 million budget. The film was in devlopment hell for years  Based off a popular short story writted by Scott. B Smith in the New Yorker, which he later turned into an unpublished novel and sent to Mike Nichols. He loved it and aggred to spennd 750,000 dollars, but left the film due to scheduling conflicts with All the Pretty Horses, which would also have a troubled production and not come out untill 2000. Ben stiller was attached to direct and star, but left the product over budget disputes. Than in 1995 John Dahl and Nic Cage were set to direct and star. Savoy picturd sadly closed while trying to get this film made. They were a great indie production company existed from 1992 to 1997 there first film being co producted with Trieba Studio Bronx Tale was not a box office succes with De Niro later noting the low box ofice resulted in him not getting any directing offers. Although a Bronx Tale was a box office faulurie the film later became a classic. The film was then purhcased by Paramount Pictutes and John Boorman was later hired to direct, but was replaced by Rami due to schedle conflicts at the last mintue (Boorman had already scouted locations and secured fianncing). The film was nomminated for two oscars best adapdted screenplay and best supporting actor for Billy Bob thorton who is heartbreaking in this film as the simple minded brother Jacob to Bill Paxton who is equally great as the earnest Hank. Bridget fonda gives the best performance of her carrer, besides Jackie Brown, as Hank's small town wife Sarah. A small town crime thriller that rivals Fargo and deserves to be known in Rami's diverse filmography 

5. Bad Liuetennat (1992)

After a promising start to his career in the 1970s Harvey Kitel’s career dwindled in the 1980s and he mostly made films in Europe. An oscar nomination the year before for Bugsy and a role in the box office success Thelma and Louise (1991) revived his career. Instead of doing some blockbuster, Kitel went back to his roots to do another New York city crime indie film (like he did with Mean Streets). Bad Lieutenant was directed by the controversial Abel Ferrara who is adored by Quention Tarationo. He had previously directed another great underrated 90s crime film King of New York (1990). Well known in New York upon its release, but never realizing the stature of fame it desevres compared to other cops or gangster crime movies. The film, like all of Ferra’s films, doesn't have the most straightforward narrative. Kitel gives one of the best performances of his career similar to his role in Fingers (1978), where he plays another violent drug fueled character. One of the best corrupt cop movies ever, the central character is kind of similar to James Woods in Cop (1988), which also follows a deranged tough police officer. 

6. Red Rock West

 Dennis Hopper gives another crazed performance just as good as he is in Blue Velvet (1984) and Speed (1994) The film was going to be released at sundance film festival but was told by the studio that it was not a festival quality film. The film did not do well in test audiences and was deemed hard to market due to being a neo west. The film failed to make back it’s 7 million dollar budget, but performed well in Paris and Germany. The film later gained a minor cult following due to showings on HBO. Widely regarded as the best American film released direct to DVD.  John Dhall, like Carl Franklin is another immensely talented director regulated to tv that deserves more feature films. He has an amazing filmography and is best known for Rounders (1998) and has directed other great noirs like The Last Seduction (1994) and Kill me again (1989), which both sadly never found an audience. Nic Cage plays another aloof criminal similar to his role in Raising Arizona (1987). Lara Flynn Boyle is a devastating female fatale, and J. T. Walsh appears in another good crime film. 

7. MulHolland Falls (1996)

Unfairly mangled upon its release and a huge box office bomb, Mulholland Falls (1996 is one of the most misunderstood crime movies of the 90s. Due to its similar setting the film was criticized for being inferior to Chinatown. An unfortunate comparison because films like this come alone only so often. Farewell my lovely (1975) being another good film in this subgenre. The film had a 29 million dollar budget, but only made 11.5 million dollars. With the release of La Confidential (1997) a year later it sealed this film’s fate. Forgotten today and ripe for rediscovery the film can be watched on Amazon prime. Set in the early 1950s Nick Nolte gives a fantastic performance as a tough cop, a role he’s played well before. He would later star in the similarly themed Gangster Squad (2012). The film has a stacked cast: John Malkovich, Jennifer Connelly, Bruce Dern, Chazz Palminteri, Michael Madsen, Chris Penn, Daniel Baldwin, Andrew McCarthy, a young green Kyle Chandler, Titus Welliver, Ed Lauter, Oscar winner Louise Fletcher, Treat Williams, and Melanie Griffith. Chazz Palminteri at the peak of his popularity, a few years removed from Bronx Tale (1993) and fresh of an oscar nomination for Bullets over Broadway (1994), is also a standout here as a tough guy cop who loves his psychiatrist. Jennifer Connelly in her brief runtime is stunning and heartbreaking. A great ensemble film with cool 1950s cars, great costumes, and solid settings. The great Roger Ebert was one of the few who enjoyed this film and gave his signature out of 4 rating (3.5/4).