The 15 Best Revenge Movies, Ranked

Hailee Steinfeld is a real delight when she’s on the warpath. In 2010’s “True Grit,” she played Mattie, the brave daughter of a father murdered by an infamous outlaw played by Josh Brolin. She is thirsty for revenge, but she is 14 years old. She eventually hires a drunken one-eyed bounty hunter, Rooster Cogburn — played by Jeff Bridges, who really leans into that crusty old cowboy role.

It’s a remake of John Wayne’s 1969 classic, which is also quite enjoyable, but the modern incarnation better captures the novel’s grit. Revenge stories should be a bit dark, and 1960s Hollywood just didn’t have the guts to fully embrace Charles Portis’ 1968 book.

However, this excellent remake eludes the murder of Mattie’s father. Revenge movies have to put you in the headspace of the hero to deliver the climactic catharsis, and that omission lowers the stakes. But, it also leaves something to the imagination and suits this Mattie, who isn’t haunted – rather determined. She is unwavering in her mission and has all the smarts and common sense she needs to navigate the lawless society that killed her father. Female-centric revenge stories are often the best, and this one really works because the teenage hero can’t rely on physical advantages. She has her titular spirit and courage, and that’s enough.

Kimberly B. Nguyen