And here we are, Christmas is coming up and the end of the year is around the corner, and here at the Bad Ass Cinema we’re celebrating the past year’s ass kickers, and it turns out, this was a pretty damn good year for them. Basically all of this past year I’ve gotten to go to the theater and watch some pretty bad dudes tear up the screen with their wit, their guns, their fists, their swords and whatever else they could. There just wasn’t any shortage of mean mofo’s to go around from the beginning of the year till the end. In fact, here is the shortlist of characters that could have made the list, but just didn’t quite have what it takes. (Again, we got some spoilers)
Captain Davey Jones (Bill Nighy) – Pirates of the Carribean: At World‘s End: Jones is a digital wonder, and he’s got the swagger and the screen presence, but in the end he only ends up killing one dude on screen that actually stays dead.
Nick Hume (Kevin Bacon) – Death Sentence: It’s nice to see Bacon doing his best in a Charles Bronson-like role, too bad the movie lets him down, and at the very end it seems like he feels sorry for the scumbag that hurt his family. What is that?
Iorek Byrnison (Ian McKellan) – The Golden Compass: This polar bear talks smack, and literally smacks the jaws off his opponents, but really he’s just too cuddly to make the grade.
Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen) – Transformers: Nostalgia had a place reserved for Optimus on this list, but the big guy just kept getting his butt kicked by Megatron, so much so that most of it happened off-screen, and Shia LeBouf had to save the day.
Chuck Norris: Unfortunately, Chuck Norris starred in no films this year, therefore he must forfeit his automatic spot on this list.
For those that would like to look at the list so far…
Alright, time to get down to business. Here are the five Bad Asses that reigned supreme over everyone else on this list and every other hero in theaters this year.
The Bad Asses of 2007, Part III: The Final Showdown
5. Leonidas (Gerard Butler)- 300
“Prepare for Glory!”
Really, when it came to deciding which line best described Leonidas, there were so many to choose from. The thing is, he could totally back up his boasts, as his decapitating, limb chopping battle expertise was put to the test, and passed with flying colors. There was some doubt as to whether the film version of Leonidas could stack up to the character that Frank Miller had put on the pages of his Graphic Novel 300, but alas I shouldn’t have been worried, Gerard Butler’s portrayal is exactly the hard ass Spartan come to life.
The only thing that keeps him from being number one on this list is that he didn’t go out there and kill all those Persians himself. Even with that though, standing next to 299 of some of the greatest hand to hand fighters the world has ever seen, Leonidas sticks out in a crowd, yelling at the top of his lungs about how bad ass he is and then leading the charge, cutting down invading forces by the thousands. Yeah, he and his brave 300 end up going down at the end, but not before securing a victory for all of Greece and making a man who thought he was a god look like a bitch.
4. Jason Bourne (Matt Damon)- The Bourne Ultimatum
“This is where it ends.”
You know, there’s that scene in 40 Year-old Virgin where Paul Rudd talks about how he used to think of Matt Damon as a complete wuss until he starred in these movies, and to be honest I was right there with him. Now though, by this third movie I was fully expecting Matt Damon’s Jason Bourne to be able to throw down with the best of them, and I wasn’t let down in the slightest. Sure, he’s a killing machine with a conscience, but he’s still a killing machine.
Take for instance the awesome battle he has with another spy in the middle of the film, as he’s chased through alleyways and over rooftops by the Police, but still has enough time to lose the authorities, jump through a window, save Julia Styles’ Nicky Parsons, and get it on with the CIA assassin. The one on one battle is awesome too, as the two combatants use everything at their disposal to take the other one out, including Bourne grabbing a book and trying to choke the other guy with it.
In another scene, Bourne breaks into a government building and we’re really not really sure how he did it, because we’re not shown. Really, that shows just how bad ass he is. We don’t even need any proof to show us this character’s abilities. We bought into just how awesome he is and we know exactly what he’s capable of, so we don’t even question it anymore.
3. Beowulf (Ray Winstone) – Beowulf
“ I am Ripper… Tearer… Slasher… Gouger. I am the Teeth in the Darkness, the Talons in the Night. Mine is Strength… and Lust… and Power! I AM BEOWULF! “
One thing is for sure; Beowulf is very sure of himself. To be honest though; he has a right to be. On this list, I’ve kind of tried to avoid animated and CGI characters a bit, because I think to some degree in the animated form it affords you advantages that others don’t receive. To some degree there’s a part of me that just loves real stunts with real performers doing the dirty work, as opposed to a graphic designer doing the real work. This is a testament to Beowulf’s 100% pure awesomeness that he made it this high on this list.
This character doesn’t do anything small. This guy slays monsters and lays maidens and evil witches by the dozen and seemingly can’t be stopped. Even his stories are too big for comparison. A sequence where he’s eaten by a monster, only to reappear a moment later through the monster’s bloody eye socket screaming his own name is one of the coolest sequences I’ve seen all year.
Then when you’re wondering if its all just bluster, Beowulf decides to take on the Grendel in equal combat; naked with no weapons. In the movie’s final battle, the man is forced to try and slay a dragon, basically all on his lonesome., When all is said and done, Beowulf ends up William Wallace, Maximus, and Aragorn all rolled up into one. Sure, he rips out the hearts of giants monsters like it wasn’t anything, but Beowulf does more than that, he destroys my expectations.
2. John McClane (Bruce Willis) – Live Free or Die Hard
“Yippie-kay-yay, mother******! “
So as is my Christmas tradition, I and one of my buddies got together this year and watched Die Hard as part of our holiday celebration. As I watched it this year though, I realized I had already gotten my Christmas present early this year. With most of the summer’s releases being complete dogs this year and not a Star Wars or Superman movie coming out at all, I needed something to look forward to. Thank God for John McClane, who not only saved the free world, he saved the summer for me.
I’ve heard some complaints that McClane is almost too bad ass in this movie; taking out a car and a fighter jet at will instead of having to deal with things like glass in his feet. For me, I think those people weren’t paying attention. This is a John McClane that still gets bloodied, beat down and shot up, but just like he always has, he just keeps coming. This is still the wise cracking, ass kicking cop we’ve always loved, and he’s still as relevant as ever.
It is awesome that after nearly twenty years, John McClane is still the epitome of the action hero. He doesn’t need kung-fu or superpowers. All he needs is his tenacity and his wits about him, and the next thing you know, the bad guys can do nothing to stop him. Screw watching him beats jets, nothing was as satisfying as watching McClane smoke a few fools or beat down a kung fu hero, then send them off with an appropriate one-liner. Yippie-kay-yay indeed.
1.Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem) – No Country for Old Men
“What’s this guy supposed to be the ultimate bad ass?”
In short; yes he is. When I was compiling a list like this, I was trying to deny Chigurh the top spot. I mean, this guy kills unarmed men and women, ruins lives and kind of sticks out like a sore thumb with his odd haircut and weird manner. Other the other hand, Chigurh is more like a force than a human being. There’s a reason that they put Chigurh’s image on the poster for No Country for Old Men with the tagline “You Can’t Stop What’s Coming”, because there really is no preparing for him. In the end, he’ll win, and not even fate seems to have any power over him.
What’s really amazing about this character is the type of power he seems to have over people, even if he’s just eluding to what he’s about to do. Take for instance the scene in which he intimidates a poor store owner. Anton never says a word about what he’s going to do, but you know deep down he’s about to kill this man, and it sends chills down your spine. Chigurh even basically destroys the life of Sheriff Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones) peripherally, as his crimes come to be so immense that they shake the old timers beliefs in humanity to their core.
This isn’t even taking into account what this character manages to do when he does have a weapon in his hand. The man mostly leaves just bloody masses in his wake, as Mexican gangsters, policemen and bounty hunters stand no chance against him in any physical altercation. Within the first five minutes of this movie, Chigurh has already killed two men, one a sheriff’s deputy, in two of the most violent scenes I’ve witnessed all year.
Without a doubt, Chigurh not only deserves to be on this list, he deserves to rule it, making a bigger impression on me than every other character that was in theaters this year. Everything he does seems to be of singular purpose, never stopping until he accomplishes his mission. Many try, but none end up being able to stop what’s coming.