5 Movie Villains that are Cool on Purpose
5. Owen Davian – Philip Seymour Hoffman - Mission Impossible III
We’ve seen Philip Seymour Hoffman play a myriad of characters, but the first time the world really got to see him run with the role of the villain was in the 2006 action film Mission Impossible III. Lost creator J.J. Abrams made his directorial debut with a bang, literally. An armed, and less than pleased, Philip Seymour Hoffman brilliantly plays international arms dealer Owen Davian who sets out on a personal vendetta against Ethan Hunt and his innocent girlfriend. Hoffman really shows off his ability to scare the living hell out of you with the subtleties in his performance. His delivery is meticulous, as should it be for a man who believes his time is of great value. Davian sees his capture and escape from Ethan Hunt and his crew as a mere inconvenience; a setback that he believes should cost Ethan and his girlfriend their lives. Hoffman’s performance is made even more impressive by the fact that I can’t remember the last time I was afraid of a villain in a true action film.
4. Robert Angier aka The Great Danton – Hugh Jackman - The Prestige
Christopher Nolan has established himself as one of the best (if not the best) filmmakers of all time. Much of that is attributed to his absolutely wonderful selections in cast. What makes Hugh Jackman’s character Robert Angier so good in The Prestige, is that you get to see him progress into a villain over the course of the film. As a matter of fact, it’s hard to tell exactly at what point he becomes the bad guy. What starts out as a partnership, quickly spirals out of control into fierce and hateful rivalry that is sure to end badly. Robert Angier goes far and beyond what most people would consider the boundaries of morality in an attempt to become the greatest magician of all time. His quest consumes him. It is rare that throughout a movie the audience is fooled once and again by the same character. Robert Angier’s wizardry is only made more grandiose by him misleading all persons involved, including the audience. After all, isn’t the film itself an elaborate magic trick played on us.
3. Colonel Hans Landa – Christoph Waltz - Inglourious Basterds
Nazi’s were scary folk. The opening scene of Inglourious Basterds emphasizes this in a way only Tarantino can. Christoph Waltz plays one of the most complicated villains of all time. He has earned the infamous title of “The Jew Hunter” for his relentless ability to track down hiding Jews in the Nazi-occupied countries of Europe during World War II. He would gladly give up the leaders of the Nazi party for personal gain and has no problem murdering innocent women and children. His mastery of many languages and detective skills that would make Sherlock Holmes blink twice only add to his depth, increasing his hold over the audience. Waltz really took the villainous Nazi character into uncharted territory, and then mapped it out and brought it back.
2. Anton Chigurh – Javier Bardem – No Country for Old Men
In my opinion, there are no characters that evoke the kind of presence that Javier Bardem did as Anton Chigurh in No Country for Old Men. After Josh Brolin finds over $2 million dollars in cash at the scene of a drug deal gone awry, Anton Chigurh is hired by a group of Americans to track down the money. Chigurh has no problem killing the men that hired him and deciding to go after the money himself, leaving a trail of bodies in his wake. Using a cattlegun with a hydraulic cylinder, a silenced shotgun and the occasional coin, Chigurh proves himself to be one of the most efficient and ruthless killers in film history. The directors chose the name Chigurh because they didn’t want you to know where he was from. If he believes he is an instrument of fate, who are we to say otherwise?
1. The Joker – Heath Ledger – The Dark Knight
I suppose it’s no coincidence that Christopher Nolan has more than one film with a villain on this list, but you can’t even think of the word villain, without thinking of The Joker. Rarely has such an iconic character been rebooted in such a successful way and captivating way. What Heath Ledger did with this character defied both explanation, and expectations. His every single word, movement and gesture, perfection. Ledger portrayed The Joker in the light he was intended to be shown in; a dark, homicidal sociopath whose reasons for creating chaos cannot be fathomed by the sane man. Some people theorize that Ledger committed more to his character than his body could handle. Regardless of speculation, all we’re left with is an actor’s legacy, and one of the best performances of all time. The definition of a villain.
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