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Top 10 Movies You Watch If You Liked Red Dead Redemption 2

VO: Phoebe de Jeu WRITTEN BY: Nick Spake

One of the most cinematic games ever made had to get its inspiration from somewhere. For this list, we’re taking a look at films with themes, characters, and storylines that parallel Rockstar’s hit western game. Our list includes “Django” (1966), “The Searchers” (1956), “True Grit” (2010), and more! Join WatchMojo as we count down our picks for the Top 10 Movies You Watch If You Liked Red Dead Redemption 2.

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Script written by Nick Spake

Top10 Movies You Watch If You Liked Red Dead Redemption 2


One of the most cinematic games ever made had to get its inspiration from somewhere. Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Movies You Should Watch If You Liked Red Dead Redemption 2.

For this list, we’re taking a look at films with themes, characters, and storylines that parallel Rockstar’s hit western game.

#10: “There Will Be Blood” (2007)

This modern masterpiece from Paul Thomas Anderson is one of the few films on our list that doesn’t necessarily classify as a conventional western. Its American frontier setting, complex characters, and cool-blooded tone are perfectly in sync with “Red Dead Redemption,” however. Strangely enough, “There Will Be Blood” begins in 1898, one year prior to the events of “Red Dead Redemption 2,” and continues into 1911, the same year John Marston’s adventure took place. The original game even paid homage to this 2007 film, naming an oil drilling camp after Daniel Plainview, a role that brought actor Daniel Day-Lewis an Academy Award. We wonder how a boss fight against Plainview would play out.

#9: “The Searchers” (1956)

Virtually every modern western has drawn inspiration from “The Searchers” and the “Red Dead Redemption” games are no exception. During the genre’s early days, heroes and villains were often synonymous with white and black hats, respectively. This symbolism started to fade out as characters grew more three-dimensional, though, and few western icons have more depth than Ethan Edwards. Played by the legendary John Wayne, Ethan is the hero of this John Ford classic, although he doesn’t always come off as very heroic. He’s a vengeful bigot with hostile tendencies, but is also dedicated to his kin. Like John Marston or Arthur Morgan, Ethan’s flawed nature is exactly what makes him such an intriguing protagonist.

#8: “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre” (1948)

Just as money plays a key component in “Red Dead Redemption 2,” a lust for riches acts as a driving force in this brilliantly written neo-western. Humphrey Bogart and Tim Holt star as Dobbs and Curtin, respectively, two down on their luck drifters who join an old prospector on a gold expedition. Friends become enemies as greed turns into paranoia, sending Dobbs down a dark path. An exceptional ensemble piece with an Oscar-winning performance from Walter Huston, “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre” is one of the first US films to be shot outside of the country. Like the “Red Dead Redemption” games, the rich western setting adds another layer of atmosphere to the narrative.

#7: “Tombstone” (1993)

If you enjoyed the dynamics between Arthur Morgan and his fellow gang members, then “Tombstone” should be right up your alley. This rousing western assembles one of the finest casts the genre has to offer with Kurt Russell as Wyatt Earp, Sam Elliott as Virgil Earp, and Val Kilmer in arguably his best performance as Doc Holliday. While the film’s portrayals of these real-life figures can feel romanticized, the camaraderie they share never feels anything less than genuine. The shootouts may draw us in, but it’s the endearing characters that keep us coming back to “Tombstone.” By the way, have you ever noticed the resemblance between Dutch van der Linde and “Curly Bill” Brocius?

#6: “True Grit” (2010)

Although nothing can diminish the original film’s status as a classic, the Coen brothers’ take on Charles Portis’ novel improved upon its predecessor with stronger character development and more visual flair, not to mention an all-around grittier tone. Just when you thought the western was dead, 2010’s “True Grit” reminded audiences just how gripping the genre could be, turning in a film that was cool enough for modern audiences while still being timeless enough for older viewers. Interestingly enough, both “True Grit” and “Red Dead” came out the same year, meaning that while one was breathing new life into the western on the silver screen, the other was achieving the same on the gaming front.

#5: “Unforgiven” (1992)

“Unforgiven” stands out as the only film on our list to win the Best Picture Oscar, which is reason enough to check it out. For “Red Dead” fans in particular, the film’s protagonist draws many parallels to the likes of John Marston and Arthur Morgan. Clint Eastwood directs himself as William Munny, a retired outlaw who wishes to leave his life of crime behind and raise his children in peace. He’s persuaded to come out of retirement for one last job, pitting him against a sadistic lawman played by Gene Hackman. With strong themes of revenge and redemption, “Unforgiven” was Eastwood’s final western and he couldn’t have gone out on a higher note.

#4: “Django” (1966)

You’ve undoubtedly heard of “Django Unchained,” but only the most dedicated cinephiles are aware that Quentin Tarantino’s 2012 film was inspired by this spaghetti western. Franco Nero is the epitome of badass as Django, a wandering gunslinger who winds up in the middle of a conflict between Red Shirts and revolutionaries. While it was released in 1966, “Django” is brutal even by contemporary standards. Although the graphic imagery initially garnered criticism, today the film is celebrated for its stylized violence. Django himself is among the genre’s most fascinating characters, possessing a death wish so strong that he drags a coffin everywhere. Speaking of which, Rockstar gave a nod to this image in “Red Dead Revolver.”

#3: “The Great Silence” (1968)

“Django” isn’t Sergio Corbucci’s only spaghetti western that inspired Tarantino. “The Great Silence” was one of the primary influences behind “The Hateful Eight.” Likewise, you can definitely see how this film’s cold, unforgiving landscape might’ve had an impact on certain portions of the “Red Dead Redemption” games. The film’s protagonist, who’s nicknamed Silence, prefers to let his gun do all the talking. While he doesn’t speak as much as Arthur Morgan or John Marston, all three share a stoic, morally conflicted nature in common. Much like a video game, “The Great Silence” has several alternate endings, shot at the request of producers, although these were ultimately ditched in favour of Corbucci’s original.

#2: “The Man with No Name” trilogy (1964-1967)

When people think of the spaghetti western, the first thing that usually comes to mind is Sergio Leone’s “Man with No Name” series, aka the “Dollars” trilogy. With each film centering on Clint Eastwood’s nameless cowboy, the western genre wouldn’t be what it is today without “A Fistful of Dollars,” “For a Few Dollars More,” and “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.” From the mysterious protagonist, to the uncompromising violence, to the beautifully shot western landscapes, this franchise’s fingerprints are all over the world of “Red Dead Redemption.” It’s only fitting that Rockstar paid tribute at a graveyard where a tombstone dedicated to a “Cowboy with No Name” can be found.

Before we get to our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:

“The Proposition” (2005)

“High Plains Drifter” (1973)

“The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford” (2006)

#1: “The Wild Bunch” (1969)

“Red Dead Redemption 2” is essentially the video game equivalent of this epic western, which strikes the ideal balance of thrilling action and poignant character moments. Both tales open with a robbery that doesn’t entirely go according to plan, forcing a gang of outlaws to go on the run with bounty hunters and lawmen hot on their trails. In addition to featuring the same hard-hitting violence, the use of slow motion techniques demonstrated in “The Wild Bunch” is reminiscent of the Dead Eye mechanic that’s become a staple of the “Red Dead” games. Above all else, both succeed in making the audience sympathize with antiheroes, leaving us wanting to see them find freedom and redemption.
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