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Friday Five: My Five Favorite Anti-Hero Movies

Justin here with this week’s Friday Five! Anyone who has read my writings here for any length of time knows that I’m a sucker for anti-hero movies. In an anti-hero movie, the typical hero and villain relationship is flipped on it’s head with the “hero” fighting against authority figures or society.

My Five Favorite Anti-Hero Movies

5. Easy Rider

This is a strange one, because honestly I remember this movie as being better than it is. When I’m watching it I’m significantly less impressed than when I’m thinking about it. This is also a movie with out any implicit conflict where nothing really happens. Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda cruise around on their motorcycles doing dangerous drugs until they’re killed by a redneck ass hole.

Greatest act of anti-heroism: taking acid in a grave yard in New Orleans
4. Bad New Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans

Werner Herzog’s gonzo cop movie stars Nicholas Cage as an unstable drug addled detective with a very serious gambling problem who you can’t help but root for. Through the course of the movie you see Cage do some really heinous shit, but you also see his eventual redemption. This movie is a modern classic.

Greatest act of anti-heroism: Threatening a wheelchair bound geriatric with a gigantic gun.

3. Danger: Diabolik

Mario Bava directs John Philip Law in this adaptation of a French comic book about a bad guy. Diabolik is a master thief who enjoys making a mockery out of authority by stealing all kinds of money and gold. It’s a mod masterpiece and an inversion of the typical comic book story.

Greatest act of anti-heroism: The best money bath scene of all time.

2. The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner

This muted British juvenile delinquent film stars Tom Courtney as a ne’er do-well who is sent to a boys boarding school for reprobates. The headmaster soon finds out that Courtney is an excellent long distance runner and trains him to beat the other schools. Courtney wins handily but stops just short of the finish line as a final fuck you to the school.

Greatest act of anti-heroism: The fuck you.

1. Vanishing Point

A car thief bets his drug dealer that he can drive his stolen 1970 white Dodge Challenger from Golden, CO to San Francisco in 13 hours (a feat that was much more difficult before I-70 was completed). Along the way Kowalski is guided by Clevon Little as a blind DJ tipping him off to what the police are doing. Kowalski becomes an inspiration to the down trodden as he crosses paths with other miscreants, a naked motorcyclist, and a group of snake handlers. Vanishing point combines the anti-hero’s distrust of authority with an existential yearning to do something meaningful even if it means self-destruction.

Greatest act of anti-heroism: when Kowalski runs out of road.

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