Despite what some corners of the internet may tell you, white guys are doing just fine in the world, still gaining all the fringe benefits that come from being at the top of the pecking order after millennia of conquest, subjugation, and murder. Every now and then, however, a film comes out that makes you feel a twinge of empathy for the psychotic white man. Here are a few flicks that, despite their other problems, make us feel for their murderous anti-heroes.
Who among us can’t empathize with the downtrodden workaday office drone? A dead end job, endless assholes jamming up the LA freeways, a painful divorce: it’s all enough to make a guy snap, and that’s exactly what happens to Michael Douglas in what could easily be called Joel Schumacher’s best film. Now, there are an ABUNDANCE of racist issues to sort through, like Douglas murdering a Korean shop owner for overcharging on a Coke and not speaking English. But if you can get past the Sean Hannity masturbation fodder, it’s really just about a guy going all GTA on everyone.
Viggo Mortensen may be playing an undercover agent who has infiltrated the Russian mob, but at the end of the day he’s still their cleaner who’s murdering thugs and dumping bodies in the river with alarming regularity. I’m not too familiar with the ins and outs of undercover work, but usually agents’ law-breaking allowances stop at capital offenses. Watching Mortensen slice people open, while nude, in a Turkish bathhouse will permanently drop your jaw, but somehow, deep down you still believe he’s a good guy.
Natural Born Killers
You couldn’t expect any movie written by Tarantino to NOT have such a preponderance of violence that it transcends disturbing and circles back around to comical. Woody Harrelson, with the help of Juliette Lewis, shoots his way through town after town as the lovers embark on a murderous rampage. But the spark that set off this powder keg was Lewis’ character’s sexually abusive father, played in a delightful turn by Rodney Dangerfield. When the sadistic Romeo and Juliet (Wow. I just got why she was cast in that role.) end his life, you can’t help but feel like he had it coming.
Christian Bale’s performance as Patrick Bateman will go down as one of his most iconic, if not one of the best performances of his career. Taking place during the height of the yuppie boom, Bale’s Bateman both despises and embodies the one-upmanship, snobbery, and amorality of Reagan-era corporate culture. We’ve all wanted to punch that one douchebag in the office. Bateman just takes it a step further by hacking the guy to death with an axe.
The Talented Mr. Ripley
We all want to belong. That’s just a fundamental part of being a human. Matt Damon, playing Tom Ripley, half-cons/half-stumbles his way into a friendly circle of expats in Italy. He eschews his true identity claiming “it is better to be a fake somebody than a real nobody.” The audience feels for Ripley as he yearns for acceptance. Unfortunately, Ripley takes his ruse way too far and winds up murdering a few people attempting to call him out on his interloping, resigning himself to true “forever alone” status.
You don’t mess with Michael Caine. After learning his brother’s death was not a drunk-driving accident and seeing his teenage daughter forced into pornography, Michael Caine’s Jack Carter goes on a rampage throughout London where he drowns women, shanks guys, and beats others to death with shotgun butts. Yea, this one is a pretty cut and dry revenge flick, but damn does that character relish those kills a bit too much.
Road to Perdition
It’s Tom Hanks as a cold-blooded mob enforcer. What’s not to love? Another instance of leaving a bloody trail of bodies on a quest for revenge, Perdition doesn’t pull any punches with savage violence and hammering home that Hank’s character is not a good man. But in the end it’s hard not to love anyone Tom hanks portrays.
Travolta’s hapless hitman Vinny Vega, like most Tarantino-written characters, is somehow absolved of all his sins by being a downright interesting and charismatic guy. The little quirks like weird dancing or pontifications about French fast food are what elevate what would normally be blank cypher of a murderous thug to beloved character status.