Conventional wisdom says every film needs to have a hero, but there are plenty of movies with no good guys. Taking this route provides filmmakers with a tricky task, because they're asking audience members to identify with - and possibly even root for - characters who have few redeeming qualities. Often times, movies will take a dark comedic approach in these situations, allowing viewers to laugh at the wicked ways of the people onscreen. Others take a different route, using the no-good-guys idea to dive into themes of morality.
Movies where every character is a villain don't have to be exclusively about criminals, although many are. Some are simply stories in which everyone is significantly flawed in some way. They treat each other poorly, commit ill-advised acts, or are just plain unlikable. Whatever the case, these pictures are notable for lacking clearly defined heroes as we know them.
Which of the following movies where all the characters are villains is the best? Your votes will decide.
- Photo: The Weinstein Company
From the beginning of his career, Quentin Tarantino has had a fascination with wrongdoer types. In The Hateful Eight, he presents an entire pack of them. Samuel L. Jackson plays a bounty hunter snowed in at a lodge during a winter storm. Also stuck there is a fellow bounty hunter (Kurt Russell), his fugitive (Jennifer Jason Leigh), a former Confederate general (Bruce Dern), and several additional shady types.
Jackson's character comes to believe that someone in the group is planning to slay all the others in order to help the female fugitive escape. This sets off a wave of paranoia among the group. Distrust runs rampant, leading to shocking - and sometimes unwarranted - acts of mercilessness against one another. When suspicions fester and grow, none of the story's inhabitants can be counted on to act morally. And none do.254Oops, all villains?
- Photo: 20th Century Fox
Gone Girl looks at what happens in a marriage when both partners are terrible human beings. The movie takes us into the relationship between Amy (Rosamund Pike) and Nick (Ben Affleck). They once promised to love each other "for better or for worse," but it's mostly just become the "worse" part. Of course, if you've seen the film, you know that Amy goes missing, making Nick the prime suspect in an intense police investigation.
How miserable are these people? Well, he kind of hopes some horrible fate really has befallen her, while she, it turns out, staged her own disappearance in order to get him in trouble with the law. These two make the central couple in The War of the Roses look tame in comparison.242Oops, all villains?
- Photo: Sony Pictures Releasing
Don't Breathe is a thriller with a nifty twist. Three young people in need of money decide to rob the home of a blind veteran who supposedly received a ton of money from a wrongful death settlement. They break in, thinking the job will be a breeze. However, the guy (played by Stephen Lang) figures out intruders have entered his home. He shuts off the power while the trio is in the basement, leaving them as sightless as he is. The only difference is that he knows his way around, whereas they don't.
In real life, someone like the blind man would simply call the police. In this case, however, he reveals a sadistic side, siccing his dog on the intruders and proudly brandishing a weapon. Later, there's a revelation that he's got a woman bound and gagged in the house. That, and what follows, is a game-changer. We're rooting for him at first, and then suddenly, we're not rooting for him at all. He's even worse than the young would-be burglars.150Oops, all villains?
- Photo: Sony Pictures Releasing
American Hustle gets its name because all the characters in it are con artists to one degree or another. Christian Bale and Amy Adams play scammers who are also in a relationship. They're busted by an FBI agent (Bradley Cooper) during a sting and are forced to work for him setting up other people. One of their prime targets is the mayor (Jeremy Renner) of Camden, NJ, a guy willing to illegally cut corners in order to revitalize Atlantic City.
The gist of the movie is that everyone is conning everyone else, pretty much all the time. None of them can be trusted, which makes allegiances difficult. Jennifer Lawrence co-stars as the wife Bale's character won't leave, and even she has her own form of grift. She gets flirty with the FBI agent as retaliation for her husband's dalliance.
Entertainment value comes from watching all of these deceitful individuals mess with one another. We may not like any of them, but they sure are fun to observe.114Oops, all villains?