The best of British grit on Netflix

Ah Britain: the land of hope and glory. Home to Kate Middleton, birth place of the collapsible baby buggy, and, apparently, the most popular setting for gritty dramas and thrillers.

With the release of the new Macbeth film, which is about the most British thing ever (English story-telling meets thrilling Scottish history), we thought it was about time that we made a discernible barrier between the plethora of unconvincing British thrillers on Netflix, and the ones that are worth your time. Aren’t we nice, eh?

Here is the best of British grit on Netflix right now.

Layer Cake

Layer Cake best british crime movies

Daniel Craig dabbles in the other side of the law in this crime comedy-drama, portraying slick London underworld gent ‘XXXX’. Not the catchiest of names, we know, but just role with it.

The film follows XXXX and his various exploits, which usually go extremely awry as a result of the foolishness of others, providing some darkly comic relief along the way. There’s some quality humorous moments mixed in with the gritty criminal happenings, a superbly compelling plot and plenty of memorable characters, making this film far more than just your standard interminable ‘drug run’. Definitely worth watching.

The Wee Man

The Wee Man

If it’s proper gangster crime you want, this is the perfect option. The Wee Man follows Paul Ferris’ life as a professional criminal, and involves many gory jobs with murder, betrayal and drug smuggling.

We’d love to know exactly how many times the word ‘revenge’ or ‘betrayal’ had been said in this movie, because that all that seems to happen. Having said that, the film is based on the real Glasgow gangster of the same name, and the crimes committed by him in the 80s. So you can’t say it isn’t realistic.



Locke is a drama starring Tom Hardy, and is regularly described as a minimalist film due to it’s setting: the film takes place entirely in the front of a car, with Ivan Locke (Hardy) driving home from Birmingham to London in real-time.

It revolves around a secret of Locke’s – and how that affects his current family and professional life – through phone calls that Ivan receives and makes during his long drive. It’s all very immersive, and Hardy is brilliant, as expected.

Peaky Blinders

Peaky Blinders

Peaky Blinders is a TV series centering on the life and criminal career of a brutal Birmingham gang in the 1920s and, more specifically, their caustically dangerous and scheming leader Tommy Shelby (brilliantly played by Cillian Murphy).

It’s set just after the First World War, and so has a distinct period style to it, albeit one that is thrillingly punctuated with snappy editing and absolutely barnstorming modern song choices. There’s intrigue and depth here, and some scene-stealing supporting turns too. Warning: may induce criminal sympathy.



He’s John Luther: abandoned by his wife, revered by his peers, and loved by the press – he’s a rough and tough DCI that does things his way. I know, it sounds very cliché.

The whole ‘rogue cop’ thing is old in America, and comes across as cheesy now. In Britain, it’s actually pretty cool, as Luther proves. Plus, Idris Elba is always great.

Life on Mars

Life on Mars

Some say that Life on Mars is one of the best things to ever happen to British television, and we certainly wont argue with them. Detective Sam Tyler wakes up in 1973 after a car accident, and realises quickly that he has to blend into his new world if he stands any chance of living a normal life, all while trying to get back to his own time period and withstand the ribbing of new crime-solving partner and quote-spewing throwback Gene Hunt.

Being based in 70s Manchester, it’s quintessentially British, and combines John Simm’s dramatic professionalism with Philip Glenister’s working class charm. If you haven’t seen this already, take the day off work tomorrow and blast it. It’s amazing.


Shifty film

The title character of this film is a drug dealer, so you know you’re in for a grim ride straight away. Shifty and his friends attempt to successfully navigate the petty crime world, while earning enough money to live, and the film follows 24 hours in their lives.

Drug dealers in movies are usually big, tough and intimidating, but this film attempts to show a different side, away from the stereotype. Highly absorbing it is too.



You know The Apprentice with Alan Sugar? Well, cross that with Saw, and you’ve got Exam. Eight people all apply for the same job, and gather in a room to complete an entrance exam.

The exam isn’t quite as easy as it seems however, and with a visible timer running at the front of the room, the candidates start to feel the pressure. I can’t help but think that this should happen on every series of The Apprentice. Sugar needs to buck up his ‘task’ ideas after this one.



From the writer that brought you Trainspotting – which is one of the most Scottish things that has ever existed – Filth concerns twisted Edinburgh detective Bruce Robertson, and his quest to be promoted to Detective Inspector.

And being based on an Irvine Welsh book, it involves a lot of drinking, drugs, sex and dark humour. The film follows Robertson’s exploits, and his severe mental health issues. Although quite repulsive, he is deliciously so.