13 Movies About Women Criminals That Are So Fun To Watch, It Should Be Illegal

Warner Bros. Pictures

There's so much to love and enjoy about watching women break the law on the big screen. In theaters Aug. 9, The Kitchen, starring Elisabeth Moss, Tiffany Haddish, and Melissa McCarthy as a trio of wives who are forced to take over their neighborhood's branch of the Irish mob after their gangster husbands are busted and sent to prison, is a new release to add the list. But this trope runs deep in film history, with a lot of classics and underrated gems featuring women as law-breaking, unexpected antiheroes who, for their own reasons, turn to a life of crime. So we've rounded up 13 movies about women criminals for you to check out now.

While some of them do have nefarious intentions, it's important to note that this list doesn't include movies in which women play straight-up villains. It's a slight difference, but an important one nonetheless. Consider Ocean's 8. The women pulling an intricate heist at the Met Gala are definitely thieves, but they're hardly the "bad guys" in the traditional sense. They are the protagonists — the ones the audience wants to cheer for while they do "bad" things and stick it to their enemies. The Kill Bill movies feature women on both sides of the hustle, so to speak; Beatrix (Uma Thurman) is herself a former assassin, and she's on a revenge spree against the team who were sent to kill her on her wedding day, a team that also includes a handful of women who are undoubtedly villains.

In nearly all cases, these films explore or implement an aspect of life that is reality for anybody who isn't a man: relative obscurity. "A Him gets noticed, a Her gets ignored," Debbie (Sandra Bullock) tells her crew in Ocean's 8. "And for once, we'd like to be ignored." Within that forced obscurity, many of these women are able to operate relatively unbothered. It's a power fantasy that the women in the audience can share.

This is the kind of moral grey area we're dealing with, so keep on reading for more badass women on a quest for their own kind of justice.


'Heathers' (1988)

Veronica (Winona Ryder) is a young woman who unwittingly (or maybe not so unwittingly) goes on a revenge killing spree with her sociopathic boyfriend, J.D. (Christian Slater). In this high school satire, she's framed as an antihero protagonist, since the revenge is against her overwhelmingly conniving former clique. It's a dark film, to be sure, but a true cult classic.

Available on Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, and Google Play.


'Set It Off' (1996)

Set It Off is about four women (Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith, Vivica A. Fox, and Kimberly Elise) who plan a bank robbery to provide a better life for their families. At the time, Roger Ebert wrote, "The movie surprised and moved me: I expected a routine action picture and was amazed how much I started to care about the characters."

Available on YouTube and Google Play.


'Widows' (2018)

In this Steve McQueen film, Veronica (Viola Davis) assembles a crew of women to carry out a heist in order to repay the debts left by her late husband, Harry (Liam Neeson). Joining Veronica are two widows who lost their partners in the same job that killed Harry: Alice (Elizabeth Debicki) and Linda (Michelle Rodriguez), and Cynthia Erivo as another woman looking for some financial security. There's a lot to enjoy about this movie, not the least of which are its twists and turns, adapted from the original British miniseries by McQueen and Gone Girl author Gillian Flynn.

Available on Amazon, HBO Go, YouTube, and Google Play.


'The Bling Ring' (2013)

Sofia Coppola's The Bling Ring is an adaptation of "The Suspects Wore Louboutins," a Vanity Fair article about a rash of celebrity home burglaries in the late '00s that were carried out by a group of already wealthy teenagers obsessed with fame and all the material things that come with it.

Available on Amazon, YouTube, and Google Play.


'Ocean's 8' (2018)

Following the formula, Ocean's 8 makes great use of its ensemble. Sister to Danny Ocean and master thief in her own right, Debbie (Sandra Bullock) reunites with her old partner, Lou (Cate Blanchett), to pull off a bold heist. They're joined by a crew of women, each of whom offers a special skill.

Available on HBO Now, HBO Go, Amazon, YouTube, and Google Play.


6 & 7. 'Kill Bill: Volume 1' & 'Kill Bill: Volume 2' (2003, 2004)

In this two part saga, former assassin Beatrix Kiddo (Uma Thurman) travels the world to exact revenge against her former teammates, which include O-Ren Ishii (Lucy Liu), Vernita Green (Vivica A. Fox), Elle Driver (Daryl Hannah), Budd (Michael Madsen), and team leader Bill (David Carradine). Despite her former life, you'll root for Beatrix through all the blood and gore.

Available on Amazon, YouTube, and Google Play.


'Thelma & Louise' (1991)

The two best friends are on a road trip when a man attempts to rape Thelma (Geena Davis), leading to Louise (Susan Sarandon) killing him. The movie follows their run from the law, ending with a final shot that's been parodied, homaged, and copied across all sorts of media since the movie's release in 1991.

Available on Amazon and STARZ.


'Jawbreaker' (1999)

Very much following in the footsteps of Heathers, Jawbreaker is another dark comedy about a clique of popular girls who inadvertently murder one of their own in a prank gone terribly wrong. Courtney (Rose McGowan), Marcie (Julie Benz), and Julie (Rebecca Gayheart) then try to cover up the murder, which of course leads to more chaos.

Available on Amazon, YouTube, and Google Play.


'Sugar & Spice' (2001)

Sugar & Spice tries to add a "heart of gold" element to the teens-gone-bad trope. These cheerleaders turn to bank robbery to provide for one of their own after she becomes pregnant.

Available on YouTube and Google Play.


'Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!' (1965)

Though it was a box office failure with negative critical reception, Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! nevertheless found its way to cult status with its (then-extremely) expansive view on what kind of characters women should be "allowed" to play on screen and — perhaps more importantly — who women can love. It stars Tura Santana as Varla, Haji as her lover, Rosie, and Lori Williams as Billie, all go-go dancers on something of a bender that takes them on a spree across the California desert and finally on a search for treasure.

Unfortunately, this title isn't streaming anywhere online, but it's still worth checking for at your local video store or library.


'A Simple Favor' (2018)

Paul Feig's A Simple Favor is a wonderful mystery, one that unwraps itself slowly, twisting and turning the whole way through. Anna Kendrick delivers as Stephanie, a single mother who's pulled into the strange and mysterious wake of her new friend Emily's (Blake Lively). Its inclusion here might be a bit of a spoiler, but one that won't detract from this suburban thriller one bit.

Available on YouTube and Google Play.


'Heartbreakers' (2001)

Another movie featuring con artists, Heartbreakers adds a romantic comedy angle to the grift. Sigourney Weaver and Jennifer Love Hewitt play Angela and Wendy, a mother and daughter team who target wealthy men for their capers and turn their sights on Jack (Jason Lee) and William (Gene Hackman) for their latest scam.

Available on Amazon and STARZ.

You can get your thrills vicariously through these characters, who may inspire you to find some little opportunities for rebellion in your own life.