Caped crusaders, masked mavericks, and the like seem to have an oligopoly on vigilante flicks, with Marvel and DC, in particular, spewing endless amounts of superheroes into the metaverse. But what about the movies whose vigilantes don’t conform to the stereotype, who are maskless, the ones who mightn’t necessarily take down an entire corporation, government, or terrorist group, but whose focus is still to make the world a better place ?
Netflix’s own vigilante-esque movie I Came By is due to premiere on the platform at the end of this month, a film about two graffiti artists who target the homes of the wealthiest, most cold-hearted Londoners, uncovering a serious secret in the process. The film follows a long tradition of vigilantes taking it upon themselves to enact justice, and with its release, it is certainly apt to survey the cinematic landscape and take a look at the best (non-superhero) vigilante movies, here are the best…
6 Death Wish
1974’s Death Wish undoubtedly provided a source of inspiration for 1993’s fallingdown, with the films sharing several similarities besides the obvious vigilante link. Death Wish presents the story of an architect, Paul Kersey, who witnesses the murder of his wife and the callous rape of his daughter when intruders break into their family residence. Pushed to breaking point, Kersey disregards his eleven morally principled approach to it, becoming an unforgiving vigilante, killing any criminal that he encounters. Death Wishwith Charles Bronson, has been endlessly influential on films like Nobody, John Wick, and The Equalizer.
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5 The Boondock Saints
Troy Duffy’s The Boondock Saints tells the tale of the brothers Connor and Murphy MacManus, who undertake a mission to rid Boston of its criminal underworld under the delusion that they’re performing God’s duty. One of the highlights of the film is FBI agent Paul Smecker, brilliantly played by Willem Dafoe, who steals every scene with his madcap, his delirious performance. Linked with comical elements and great action sequences, The Boondock Saints is a shoot ’em up barrel-full-of-fun.
Related: Willem Dafoe’s Most Unique Performances, Ranked
4 Promising Young Woman
Promising Young Woman sheds a different perspective on the vigilante genre, involving the #MeToo movement and the discussion around sexual assault. Carey Mulligan assumes the role of Cassie, a Med school dropout, working in a coffee shop. It quickly comes to pass that the reasons for her apparent detestation of men was the rape and subsequent suicide of her best friend, Nina. Carrie fervently pursues the perpetrators in a methodical, calculated, and relentless manner after newfound revelations reignite her fury de ella.
Mulligan is utterly sublime as Carrie, an independent woman haunted by past injustices, who goes out and actively seeks a rapist’s comeuppance. The movie was partly made in support of the #MeToo campaign, but its release also, coincidentally, coincided with the rape and murder of Sarah Everard by a police officer in the UK, which made an already culturally significant narrative even more reverent and poignant.
3 Inglourious Basterds
Inglourious Basterds has that comic-strip of so many of Tarantino’s movies, with the quick cuts, cut-throat dialogue, and snappy tracking shots. Set in Nazi-occupied France, the film is a fictional take on the German-tenanted la république and the plot of two unlikely conspirators to bring down Hitler and Nazism. Shosanna Dreyfus, an orphaned Jew who witnessed the barbaric slaughter of her family de ella at the hands of the fascist regime, seeks to blow up a cinema containing high-ranking Nazi officials playing host to a German propaganda premiere. the Django Unchained director’s fervor for maximal violence and a dry sense of humor are ever-present throughout.
two falling down
Michael Douglas’ portrait of a man catapulted into the abyss after being made redundant in falling down forms a part of film iconography when he goes on a killing spree, trying to rid the world of what he sees as its impurities. Embroiled in a seemingly psychotic mania, Foster (Douglas) displays all the signs of a man pushed to the very edge by societal infractions.
Related: Explained: The Murky Gray Ethics of Revenge Thrillers
The sequence of unfortunate and infuriating events that lead to Foster’s breakdown is all, when isolated, minor inconveniences, yet in the context of how his life has developed, the small miseries of broken air-conditioning, an overpriced coke, and being short-changed all build to the straw that broke the camel’s back when looking at the bigger picture. For Michael Douglas’ performance alone, falling down is a sensational vigilante flick, even if the vigilante’s ideologies are a tad skewered.
1 V for Vendetta
“This valorous visitation of a by-gone vexation stands vivified and has vowed to vanquish these venal and virulent vermin vanguarding vice and vouchsafing the violently vicious and voracious violation of volition!” This line uttered by the masked V in James McTeigue’s dystopian action thriller, V for Vendetta, is feasibly the most extreme form of alliterative dialogue in cinematic history. Aside from breaking the record for managing to cram the largest collection of V-starting nouns and adjectives into one sentence (plaudits to scriptwriters, Lily and Lana Wachowski), the 2006 vigilante movie is a graphic portrayal of life under a futuristic and fascist, totalitarian state.
The mysterious V, played by Hugh Weaving, does his best re-enactment of Guy Fawkes, an anarchist, vigilante, and lone-wolf who takes it upon himself to challenge the hard-lined extremism of the dictatorship oppressing him and his fellow citizens, as he summons his people to rise up against the regime. The screen adaptation of Alan Moore’s novel of the same name makes for enthralling viewing, as V and his adopted sidekick, Evey (Natalie Portman), take us on-lookers and willful accomplices along for the ride.
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