This year is ending fast, and the closer it comes I’m starting to realize that maybe 2007 wasn’t such a bad year for movies after all. I know that ever since it started, I really railed against the summer blockbusters, but I think that it was just because they were such a letdown compared to my big expectations. On the other hand, the rest of the year saw films constantly being pushed out of my top 10, sometimes begrudgingly, as a constant stream of quality movies just kept coming out. There were no shortage of bad ass characters this year either and we’re getting closer to the cream of the crop. Some of these characters below are actually some of my favorites of the year, and the only reason they weren’t top 5 material was just that those are reserved for some epic bad ass dudes.
And here we go…
The Bad Asses of 2007, Part II: The Revenge
11. Sergeant Nicholas Angel (Simon Pegg) – Hot Fuzz
“Sergeant Butterman, little hand says it’s time to rock and roll!”
It’s one thing to be so bad ass that the Police Chief has to tell you to get back in line so the mayor gets off his back, and to keep you off suspensions. It’s another thing entirely to be so good at busting scum off the street that the local brass has to actually force you out of town because you’re so overwhelmingly good you’re making every other cop in the city look bad. That’s the situation Nicholas Angel find himself in.
It’s funny to watch a comedian and uber-geek like Simon Pegg get to do his own riff on Dirty Harry, but the amazing thing with this character is that he’s able to pull it off and make you believe he’s so totally hard core. Even matched against some terrific villains, such as Simon Skinner (former 007 Timothy Dalton) and Rev. Philip Shooter (Raiders of the Lost Ark’s baddie Paul Freeman), Pegg’s Angel holds up like gangbusters. Pegg is so awesome that by the end of the film he goes from a spoof of one of these characters to one all his own.
10. Number 47 (Timothy Oliphant) – Hitman
“Scream as loud as you want, even the Lord himself will not hear you.”
Yes, this character is from a Video Game movie, but it is without a doubt the best Video Game movie EVER. The film is good enough that you can almost watch it and enjoy it without the ridiculous video game conventions that are thrown in, like giving Timothy Oliphant a bald head and bar code on the back of his head (That’s not conspicuous at all!). So what’s there to like? A lot of things really, and first up is Oliphant himself.
Any of you ever watch Deadwood? On the show, Oliphant played the hotheaded, swaggering sheriff of the town, and every inch of him oozed bad ass. That’s what you get with Number 47 here. There’s a scene in the film where 47 is surrounded by 3 other hitmen, all of them in a Mexican standoff. Asking them if they’d rather die with dignity, all the men unload their guns and drop their pistols. Next thing you know everyone in the room is holding duel samurai swords and 47 has to take them all out old school.
9. Ben Wade (Russell Crowe) – 3:10 to Yuma
“I’ve always liked you Byron, but even bad men love their mommas.”
Ben Wade is the type of bad guy who is so awesome that it actually threatens to upset the balance of the film entirely. You see, in the hands of Russell Crowe Wade is that type of bad guy that you can’t wait to root for, despite the fact that playing good guy in 3:10 to Yuma is Christian Bale, who is acting his ass off. Where Bale gets the thankless role of the crippled Dan Evans, Russell Crowe gets to be a movie star as Ben Wade, an outlaw who is downright flippant about all the people he’s killed, and doesn’t ask your forgiveness. He’s just such a man’s man you give it anyway.
Shooting people down by the score, slitting throats, throwing men over cliffs and one supremely awesome kill with a fork are just some of the many ways that Ben Wade proves how dangerous he is. The man is so fast that others refer to his gun as “The Hand of God”, and the first time you see it in action in this movie is one of those classic Western moments you’re likely to never forget. That scene probably comes second to the moment of the climactic gunfight, where Wade gives a look that would probably melt other men’s guns, if they had time to get them out of their holsters before he blew them away.
8. Nikolai (Viggo Mortenson) – Eastern Promises
“Okay. Now I’m going to do his teeth and cut off his fingers. You might want to leave room.”
Viggo Mortenson’s Nikolai Luzhin doesn’t have to do much in David Cronenberg’s Eastern Promise to earn a spot on this list. The way he carries himself, dresses, and talks with a slow but deliberate tone, you already know deep down what this guy is made of. There’s a moment in this picture where a man keeps spitting and threatening Nikolai and all he does is make a “V” motion with his fingers, hold it up to his neck and then point at the guy. I’m not even totally sure what the gesture means, but it sent chills up my spine.
Then the moment of truth comes. A bunch of chumps show up to take Nikolai out while he’s completely naked in a bath house and what we get is the single most visceral fight scene of the entire year. If you’re easily squeamish by seeing either hard hitting violence or men’s genitalia then by all means skip this fight scene when you watch this on DVD. Those that stay, get to see Nikolai get cut to shreds, break a few arms and stab a dude’s eye out. We didn’t need to see him kick ass to believe that he could, but watching him in action is as awesome as it should be.
7. El Wray (Freddy Rodriguez) – Grindhouse
“I never miss.”
Before seeing Planet Terror, the words “bad ass” and “Freddy Rodriguez” probably wouldn’t have been used in the same sentence by me. Sure he’s a good actor, but being so short in stature, and starring in shows that my girlfriend likes, like Six Feet Under, weren’t doing his action hero persona any favors in my eyes. That was before I saw him waltz into a hospital full of zombies with only a knife in each hand, do a jump off a wall, slit a few dozen throats, and totally rock the house. Later on, when he finally does get some guns you get the full on El Wray (“That boy’s got the devil in him!). Taking out zombies without even breaking a sweat, El Wray even makes riding one of those tiny, midget motorcycles look totally macho.
On top of all that, the guy gets some awesome one-liners; from “I never miss” to “Some of the best jokes are about cripples”, you’ll be laughing your head off while getting off on the adrenaline rush of watching him end a few dozen of the living dead. With a wry sense of humor and proven metal as an ass kicker, El Wray sticks out as the head bad ass, even with a cast featuring Michael Biehne, Josh Brolin, Jeff Fahey, and Bruce Willis. I never knew Rodriguez had it in him, but I’ll never doubt him again.
6. Mr. Smith (Clive Owen) – Shoot ’em Up
F*** you, you f***ing f***ers.”
Over the years, Clive Owen has portrayed men with subtle performances that touched our hearts and minds, as his characters sought to get a handle on emotional relationships or tried to fight for the very survival of humanity. In Shoot ‘em Up, Owen’s character, Mr. Smith, introduces himself to this movie by shoving a carrot through the back of a man’s skull, then shoots about ten people, delivers a baby, cuts the umbilical chord by shooting it, then blows away about 12 more bad guys. This is all in the first ten or so minutes of the movie.
What I love about Mr. Smith is that this isn’t even close to his most ridiculous scene in the movie. Want to see someone slide through oil while blowing a hole through a bad guy’s head? How about completely disregarding to stop having sex with Monica Bellucci when a swat team breaks in and starts a fire fight? Perhaps not caring if he’s tumbling through the air at 50,000 feet whether he smokes a few fools? For the most ridiculous one-liners and ways of killing baddies, no one on this list even comes close to Mr. Smith, and that’s saying something.
Next week, we finish this baby up!