10 movies like Emily the Criminal you must watch

By Louie Fecou
Published: December 12, 2022 (Last updated: February 8, 2024)

We discuss 10 movies like the popular film Emily the Criminal you must watch. Get these recommendations on your watchlist. 

When Emily finds herself in a spiral of debt, she tries different jobs to help her pay what she owes, but this is not a solution that works for her. Emily begins to realize that crime may be her only way out of her situation. However, her descent into a life of crime begins to grow out of control, and Emily even starts to enjoy her new dangerous path. This is the premise for film Emily the Criminal, and as well as a crime thriller, the film also deals with themes of debt, poverty, and life choices. If you were a fan of this movie, you may be interested in some other movies that deal with similar themes and narratives, so here are some suggestions that should get you on the right track.

10 movies like Emily the Criminal you must watch

Plastic (2014)

A group of students gets themselves into lots of hot water when their credit card scam burns the wrong person. In a dangerous situation, they feel the only way out is to go after another mark, who is even more dangerous than the previous one. This crime thriller has a similar feel and tone to Emily the Criminal, and is one to look out for.

Harsh Times (2005) 

Christian Bale is Jim, an ex-soldier with PTSD that tries to become a police officer. However, when he fails the psychological test he decides, like Emily, that crime may be his only option. Harsh Times‘ protagonist Jim has a similar journey to Emily, so both films share some familiar themes, with Jim trying to better himself, but making some bad choices along the way.

Hell or High Water (2016)

Toby and Tanner are two brothers that, like Emily, find themselves in financial trouble that may lead to them losing their ranch. Not wanting to lose everything, they decide that robbing banks is the only way they will be able to save their home. This, of course, leads to some hair-raising situations, and although the premise is different, the brothers share a mindset with Emily, making this a gripping crime thriller you might enjoy.

Good Time (2017)

Another two brothers appear in this 2017 crime thriller, and again it’s bank robberies that take center stage in this crime flick. Nick and Connie find themselves in trouble during their bank raid, and Nick gets caught and sent to jail. Connie then decides that he must help get his brother out, and sets off on a spree to try and raise the bail money. Starring Robert Pattinson, this character-driven crime story shares some themes with Emily, and is an exploration of crime, society and poverty.

Body Brokers (2021)

Utah is on the streets, but is encouraged to “get clean” and attend a rehab centre. However, the operation is a front that exploits loopholes in the program, and Utah is recruited to bring other people to the centre in return for money. The practice is illegal, and dangerous, and Utah has to struggle with himself, and others, to survive. With a layered central character, Body Brokers is similar to Emily with both leads having tragic arcs, and trying to find their way through a crime ridden broken system.

Ca$h (2010)

Sam and Leslie Phelan find themselves in hot water when a suitcase full of cash is thrown into their car. What they don’t know is that villainous robber Reese Kubic, played by Sean Bean, wants the money back, but The Phelans have already been spending the stuff. With Bean at their doorstep wanting the case of money back, Sam and Leslie have to become anti heroes, like Emily, to survive against Kubic. This crime thriller is also an early role for Chris Hemsworth.

Zola (2020)

Waitress, and stripper, Zola, works in Detroit and struggles with life and money in general. She meets Stefanie, who convinces her that there may be opportunities for them in Tampa. Zola is tempted by the chance to make more money and start a new life, but the opportunity is not what she thinks it is and Zola finds herself in a situation that threatens to destroy her. With a strong female antagonist, fighting against a terrible situation, the similarities with Emily are obvious.

The Lookout (2007)

Chris, played by Joseph Gordon Levitt, tries his best to hold down a job as a janitor at the bank. Once an up and coming athlete, an accident cost him his chance at fame and he also has problems remembering things. When Chris encounters an old school friend Gary, and his gang, he finds himself embroiled in a bank heist. This is a tense and tragic story, and Chris is manipulated and played, till he finds himself in a dangerous situation. Like Emily, Chris has to question the morality of his decisions, and tries to find redemption.

The Place Beyond the Pines (2013)

Ryan Gosling plays Luke, a travelling stuntman that performs in a carnival on a motorcycle. However, when he finds out he is the father of a child to Romina, played by Eva Mendez, he decides he has to stay and support his baby. He quits his job as a stuntman and finds things are tough. While working in a garage, he meets Robin and asks for more work, but there is none available. However, Robin has a shady past and before long the pair start a plan for  robbing banks. Things start to fall apart with the pair though, and it is not long before the team is at each others throats. This film is actually a triptych, with three linear stories,  but this section is close to Emily in it’s themes. A gripping and engaging watch, if you like Emily the Criminal, you should check this out.

Thief (1981)

James Caan is mesmerizing in this classic 80’s crime thriller. Frank has a criminal past that stops him from being the person he wants to be. He works selling cars by day, but at night he becomes an accomplished jewel thief. All Frank wants, is a life with his one true love Jessie, who he dates. He does a job for Leo, a black market fence, and Leo sees the potential Frank has. He wants Frank to do more work for him, but Frank is reluctant but finally agrees to do one more job, hoping that will mark the end of his criminal career and the start of his new life with Jessie. However, events conspire against Frank, leading to an explosive tragic finale.

Do you have any other recommendations for movies like Emily the Criminal? Let us know!

Lists, Movie Lists, News