Give me a real villain, you son of a bitch!
Recently I watched the art house underground master piece ‘Cobra’ starring Sylvester Stallone and it got me thinking about the golden age of action movies and what is missing in the industry today — a serious bad ass villain.
I’d easily admit that action movies aren’t what they used to be. They are B movies at best. Direct to VOD and in the supermarket bargain bin within 6 months of release. The roles are allocated to former box office mega stars that are probably just looking for a pay check to add a new wing to their mansion and this is a tragedy.
There was once a time where not every movie had to be PG13 to make money (you know, people don’t want to bring their kids with them to the movies all the time), a time where legit actors were lining up to play a nasty bastard and studio’s had the balls to do product placement in a scene that had a granny getting her shit chopped up by two flaming ninja’s. But that’s no more. The big names only want to play the righteous good guy in some CGI disaster and sponsors run a mile from anything that doesn’t have a strong moral backbone.
In my view, the genre was a victim of it’s own success. We had villains that were so well written and so well cast that in a lot of cases it actually over shadowed the multi million dollar hero. I remember Hans Grubber more than John McClane, the blonde demon Mr Joshua more than Riggs and why? Their treachery stole the show! But this was the problem, the more movies the franchises pumped out the more watered down the bad guys became to protect the hero. Remember ‘Live Free or Die Hard’? The villain was a bloody computer hacker that was actually terrified of Bruce Willis’ John McClane! His evil skill? Writing some computer code. Long gone are the days were the villain was war torn psycho or hell bent on being a drug overlord.
So I ask Hollywood this, why are you so afraid of having a strong bad guy? There’s money to be made from letting people get engrossed in a tyrant and it would help breath a little life back into a dull summer schedule. Also when speaking to your script writers, tell them that a villain isn’t meant to be a cry baby. A real villain can take a ninja star to the balls and still crank out a show stealing one liner.