As 2008 approaches, lists are going to come at us fast and furious. While thinking of my own “Best of ‘07″, I decided to go ahead and put together a list of 2007’s cinematic bad asses. With the help of a few friends, I compiled this list and added these characters to the list for various reasons; whether it be kill count, general demeanor, one liners, or if they performed some particularly special act of awesome. Now, I will say that a lot of these entries will contain some serious spoilers, so you’ve been warned ahead of time. Finally, I’d like to thank Shaun Stidham, Benton Edwards, Adam Rose, and the amazing Erin Boyer for helping me with this list.
So without further ado…
The Bad Asses of 2007
20. Beth (Lauren German) – Hostel Part II
Some may wonder how exactly Beth from Hostel Part II even made this list. She’s kind of a scrawny girl and probably even screams in terror a few times during the movie. Well, when the chips are down in this flick, Beth does what she can to survive. Confronted with an insurmountable force, Beth doesn’t just use brute force like you think she would, she uses her wits and the resources available to her to escape certain death.
Then she cuts a dude’s penis off, and feeds it to a dog.
This single act, as well as her triumphant walk as she exits, is why she earns a spot on this list. In that moment, you can see the transformation of this timid, spoiled girl to full on killing machine. It’s a pretty awesome moment to behold, even if it looks ridiculously painful.
19. Simon Skinner (Timothy Dalton) – Hot Fuzz
“I’m a slasher! I must be stopped!”
Where was this Timothy Dalton when he was Bond? Between this performance as well as The Rocketeer, Dalton makes a fantastic villain. He’s suave, sophisticated and in Hot Fuzz he’s absolutely hilarious. Dalton’s Simon Skinner is one of the most obvious killers I’ve ever seen in a mystery film, and he looks like he’s having so much fun that he’s an absolute riot when he’s on screen. It was a brilliant move by Edgar Wright to make Skinner so over the top that you couldn’t help but love him when he’s on screen, but it took Dalton’s incredible charm to make it so you could wait to watch him again.
18. Raphael (Nolan North) – TMNT
“Crime didn’t take a break… YOU did.”
The more things change, the more things stay the same. Yeah, the Turtles may not be live action in those giant suits in their new flick, but Raphael is still the same old grumpy ass kicker he’s always been. At the beginning of the film the team has kind of broken up, as Leonardo has gone to another continent to try and find himself, while some of the turtles have even gotten part time jobs. Raph took this free time to dress in a bad ass metal costume and become the worst nightmare of every criminal in his city. Once again, while the other Turtles are hanging out, Raphael is taking on scores of Foot Clan scum and then even has it out with Leonardo in an awesome rooftop fight, in the rain just for atmosphere.
17. Richard Messner (Ryan Reynolds) – Smokin’ Aces
“This is gonna blow up huge.”
Throughout most of Smokin’ Aces, you may not think that Agent Messner deserves to be anywhere near this list. While hitmen, gangsters and bounty hunters are fighting it out and killing each other in order to get to their target, Messner spends most of the movie chasing criminals and doing surveillance. Then at the end of the film comes the inner bad ass of Agent Messner. He doesn’t pull out his gun or beat down a room full of scumbags. Faced with the possibility that dozens of people, including his partner may have died in order to clean up an FBI cover-up and save the life of a career criminal, Messner locks himself in a sealed room, sits down and pulls the plug on the gangster, looking solemn as his superiors and other agents scream around him. The scene is a defiant moment of awesome that not only puts this character on this list, but changes my opinion of Ryan Reynolds altogether.
16. Frank Lucas (Denzel Washington) – American Gangster
Denzel Washington has played some bad ass dudes before, and Frank Lucas deserves to be right there with all of them. How bad is this guy? The first shot of the movie is Lucas burning a man alive and then shooting him to put him out of his misery. I love nearly everything about this character, but most especially Lucas’ professional attitude towards nearly everything in his life. To him, violence just seems a part of his job, so when he has to dish it out; he does so with the utmost civility.
In a signature scene from American Gangster, a rival kingpin walks down the same street that Frank does his business on, and Washington’s character tells his associates to wait a moment. As Frank walks up to the man, who had spent the entire movie up to that point berating and talking down to Lucas, Frank holds a gun to his head. Confident in the fact that Frank is just trying to show some muscle, he asks Lucas if he plans on shooting him in front of everyone. He probably didn’t even hear the answer as Lucas fires a bullet into his brain and then walks off, as if he just got his shoes shined.
15. Charlie Prince (Ben Foster) – 3:10 to Yuma
“I hate posses.”
Aside from its two leading men, the man you’ll be thinking about after 3:10 to Yuma is over, is Charlie Prince. Looking like he just walked out of an awesome Spaghetti Western, this two-gun carrying, Posse hating, Pinkerton hating near-psychopath is uncontrollably cool. Much like Darth Maul in Phantom Menace and Kill Bill’s Go Go Yubari, Prince’s effectiveness is all in his look and how he carries himself. It doesn’t hurt either that he’s a bad ass gunman that racks up an impressive body count in the movie, as well as burning a man to death. In a movie full of some of the roughest looking cowpokes you’ve ever seen, Prince is the king.
15. Llewellyn Moss (Josh Brolin) – No Country for Old Men
“I’m fixin’ to do something dumber than hell, but I’m going anyways.”
Of all the Westerns that came out this year, no character typified the classic Western hero more than Josh Brolin’s Llewellyn Moss. Faced with nearly impossible odds of facing what amounts to the Angel of Death coming after him, and instead of just blindly running, he decides instead to stand up for himself and look the man in the eye. 2007 has been a career year for Josh Brolin, and his role in the Coen’s No Country for Old Men is without a doubt his highlight. Using his brains and his brawn, Moss makes for Anton Chigurh’s only formidable opponent in the film, and ends up giving us the performance of Josh Brolin’s life.
13.Jesse James (Brad Pitt) – The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
“Yeah, just ain’t no peace when Jesse’s around…”
Any of you ever keep a snake for a pet? I mean you love it, and you care for it. You’d do anything to make it happy, but you’re still scared to death that it’s going to give into its nature and still try to kill. That snake is what Brad Pitt is like in this movie. Nearly every scene he’s in, Pitt acts like he could kill every man in the room, and he’ll probably make you a believer too. What’s incredible is that James’ prowess is never really shown in the movie, just implied heavily and backed up with every fiber of Brad Pitt’s performance. From the way he laughs to the way he walks into a room, Pitt just inhabits this character so thoroughly that you believe he was the real man.
12. Zoe Bell & Kim (Zoe Bell & Tracie Thoms) – Grindhouse
“Oh, you know I can’t let you go without tapping that ass… one…”
Hell hath no fury like a woman, and that especially goes in a Quentin Tarantino movie. These two come as a package duo, as the two seem to feed off their infectious awesomeness while QT’s half of Grindhouse, Death Proof, builds to a climax. The exhilaration is palpable as the final sequence of the movie puts the audience on an emotional roller coaster from being scared to death while Zoe Bell performs some of the best stunt work ever put to film, to then watching in hysterical disbelief as the girls go to get their revenge on Kurt Russell’s Stuntman Mike with Kim at the wheel and nothing but payback on her mind.
Alright, I’m going to stop here and continue with this list of bad asses next week. It’s my birthday this weekend and I am partying it up till I have to go back to work!