G-S-T Quick 5 – Favorite Vigilante Films

vig·i·lan·te: any person who takes the law into his or her own hands, as by avenging a crime. A mainstay in the film world for decades, vigilantes come in all shapes in sizes and work their special brand of street justice for a variety of reasons. In some cases they operate just outside the law and work in secret. But then again there are those who work with the law and are not so secret about their bone-crunching ways. I guess you can say that vigilantes are like a box of chocolates; you never know what you’re gonna get…except the outcome which finds baddies getting what they deserve.

Now there are so many iconic and recognizable film titans out there but as always we at G-S-T try and look past some of the more obvious choices. As such we’ll forego titles like Death Wish, Dirty Harry and Walking Tall because we want to call attention to a slightly different kind of character/film. There are no real rules to vigilantism save for 1; doing right by punishing wrong. We’ll save the whole, “who gives them the right?” morality conundrum for another day. So until then, and in honor of Tom Cruise’s Jack Reacher busting heads in theaters this Friday, in no particular order here are the G-S-T Quick 5 – Favorite Vigilante Flicks.

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Kick-Ass – The titular character in the Matthew Vaughn’s adaptation of Mark Millar’s comic gets his name from his fighting style. He goes forth not for fame, nor money, nor other earthly pursuits (except maybe the cliche girl) but Kick-Ass has an inherent sense of right, inspired by the comics he himself reads. After a failed attempt to stop a robbery, the serious altercation has left him with “powers” (if you can call lack of feeling in his pain receptors and a whole lot of metal plating a power) which propel him to full on crime fighter. Add to that the backing of a certain Hit Girl and Big Daddy he is one of the premier vigilantes in the game. A true mish-mash of comic characters he’s still focused on his one end goal…putting evil in its place.

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The Boondock Saints – Sometimes the need for moral justice in society comes not from doing what the cops won’t (or can’t) do but instead what the good Lord tells you. At least that’s what these guys think. The MacManus brothers take no prisoners in their attempt to spread the good word. And the word is fire and brimstone in the form of their peacemaking firearms. Funny, smart and in the end very efficient, they seek to claim society’s most corrupt. To them it’s not a matter of how far they will go for justice. No, they’re capable because they possess the constitution, the depth of faith to go as far as is needed. Criminals can’t hide from the hand(s) of God. Until he shows up these two are gonna clean up Boston and they don’t care who knows it.

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Batman (The Nolan films) – I know I said I wasn’t going for the more common place picks but some still might not consider old Bats a true vigilante. Easily the darkest character in this bunch he’s got real personal trauma driving his need to knock heads with criminals. This might be a no brainer for any and all vigilante lists but because he hangs out with the of the superheroes in the DC Universe, some would think he transcends vigilantism. But think about what Batman is at the core; a boy who blames himself for the death of his parents. The only cure for that ailment is to save his city (and those in it) from a similar fate. He searches the world for the skills to fight crime but in doing so begins to understand them which makes him even more effective. Sure he’s glorified because he’s got a cape (and a toy line), but take it away and he’s a died in the wool vigilante none the less.

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Yojimbo – Oh, the quintessential wandering samurai. This classic Akira Kurosawa character takes inspiration from John Ford westerns and in turn sets the stage for all spaghetti Westerns and a slew of “lone wolf/devil may care” characters that follow. Yojimbo (also know as the “30 year old mulberry field“) is whip smart, conniving, and an anti-hero (some might even say say soldier of fortune or “merc”) but rest assured he’s willing to do what will put both himself and the oppressed in the right. Though at the end of the day it’s a kind of a game to this no name vigilante as he’s just looking for some grub and goes wherever the wind takes him. Saving an entire town is all in a days work apparently…well maybe a weekend’s worth of work but you get the idea.

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Mirageman – Coming in at the number 5 spot is an off the wall choice but yet another story about a man doing what’s right. Now don’t let the above picture throw you off, granted Mirageman’s outfit is ridiculous but he’s also very serious. Similar to Bruce Wayne’s family tragedy Mirageman (Marko Zaror) has ghosts he’s running from but his little brother (who has taken the brunt of the assault) is in a mental institution and become dangerously introverted. But a product of Ernesto Díaz Espinoza, Mirageman is equal parts Batman and a hybrid of every Edgar Wright/Quentin Tarantino ever made (check out the trailer!). Mirageman is funny, serious but most importantly efficient at disposing of the criminal element and helping his ailing brother.

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All these 5 (well 6 really) guys kick ass and take names and as such they join the ranks of V, Paul Kersey, Harry Callahan, even Bryan Mills and a slew of others. Those are our go-to films where we can always count on good triumphing over evil…who cares if there’s a little blood spilled. That’s why they can also be considered anti-heroes. So this wraps up our list and we’re looking forward to adding Paramount Pictures’ Jack Reacher after this Friday. Any films/characters you’d like to add or comment on??