Oh, it feels good to be back and writing for this website again! I recently was finally able to see John Wick a few weeks ago, and I thought it was unbelievable! Keanu Reeves is an actor who's always been very unstable as someone I've liked ever since The Matrix trilogy. Every few years, he does make a movie that I absolutely enjoy, so that got me thinking: The world loves revenge movies! They're awesome, assuming they can bring an original concept to the big screen! I decided to count down my top five favorite revenge films for my return to Moviepilot.
5. The Punisher (2004)
I realize that in the film, he specifically says that his motivation isn't vengeance, but I consider it a revenge film, and it is. This film, based on the Marvel Comics' anti-hero, shows you Frank Castle, an FBI agent whose family is massacred by a crime boss, seeking vengeance for his son. After being left for dead (seems to be a recurring theme), Castle returns to the world to punish the crime boss and destroy his empire, bit by bit.
If that doesn't describe a man dishing out revenge, I don't know what does. The thing I loved most about this movie was Thomas Jane, one of the many actors that I believe doesn't receive enough recognition. I found his ability to go from a happy family man, to an emotionless killer powerful, if not heartbreaking. I guess I shouldn't leave John Travolta out, since this is a film I enjoyed him in. I always wanted Jane to return to the title role, especially after the colossal disappointment that I had in the unofficial sequel, Punisher: War Zone (2008). I love Marvel Comics and The Punisher is one of the darker aspects of the company, in contrast to heroes like Captain America and Spider-Man, Frank Castle isn't afraid to bloody his hands.
4. John Wick
That's how much I loved this movie, that it jumped straight to my favorite revenge film list, if not my favorite action list as well. John Wick begins simply with a man on the day of his wife's funeral, grieving and strutting around his home in no special way. It's only after three men, including the son of a Russian crime boss, break into that home, steal his gorgeous car (which I'll want forever), and kill his dog, that you find out that the grieving man is actually a retired hitman who, at the height of his career, was known as "The Boogeyman". In the coming days, John wreaks absolute havoc on the criminal underworld in his crusade for personal justice.
How can you ignore a Keanu Reeves movie that early reports claimed was the best action movie of the year? It didn't disappoint! I practically sat on the edge of my seat during the whole movie, at least once the action actually begins. An original story, a great cast including a very talented lead when he wants to be, and awesome shoot-outs created an action experience I won't soon forget and I absolutely look forward to the Blu-ray release!
3. The Count of Monte Cristo (2002)
How could I possibly leave this movie off of my list? You start with a naive, optimistic man who, through betrayal by his best friend and his accomplices, is sentenced to a hellish prison, where every day he thinks about the numerous ways to make those men suffer. After escaping, he finds a lost treasure, which he uses to finance his revenge scheme, and, one by one, he shows the men just how hot his hatred burns for them.
This was actually one of the first revenge films I remember seeing when I was a kid, and it's absolutely stuck with me for the last twelve years. The performances are mesmerizing, especially from Jim Caviezel, Guy Pearce and the late, great Sir Richard Harris. The film has twists and turns, schemes and plots, and some unforgettable scenes that make it a top pick in my book.
2. V for Vendetta
The essence of revenge is in the very title. Based off of the graphic novel published by Vertigo, a branch of DC Comics, this film follows a woman after she meets a mysterious masked man, who has a taste for knives and bombs. The man wears a Guy Fawkes mask to hide his identity, and has a flair for the dramatic as he seeks vengeance against the people who once performed horrible medical experiments on him and a woman he had befriended at the time.
Where can I start? With Hugo Weaving, the man behind the mask? Who delivered spectacular, chilling monologues while confined behind it? Or with Natalie Portman? Who had just been introduced in the Star Wars prequels, and who now showed great talent as an actress? The writing, the cast, the action, and the premise were all spectacular...my only dislike was that it did change quite a bit of the original story, but every time I watch that movie, I'm too distracted to notice.
1. Law Abiding Citizen (2009)
And finally, my number one pick, a movie that I had anticipated for years and love every single time I watch it. The movie starts with a seemingly ordinary family man, whose home is invaded by men who kill his wife and daughter. After a bargain made by his attorney, one of the men receive a reduced sentence, while his accomplice spends ten years on death row. After those ten years, the ordinary family man turns out to be something more, as his family's killers both die in agonizing ways, and that's only the beginning. After giving himself up, he begins to destroy all the people involved with the case from years ago.
I don't mean to brag, but I was a fan of Gerard Butler before he was famous. Back in the days of Reign of Fire (2002), Dracula: 2000, and Timeline (2003), I already sensed his potential, and now he's a superstar. This film is arguably my favorite of his for his absolute, raw performance that leaves you wanting more and more. He's the villain you find yourself loving more than the "hero" in this movie. The writing of the film, the characters, and the unexpected twists guarantee that I'll love this flick for years to come. Though the movie didn't receive generally positive reviews, especially compared to my other favorites like V for Vendetta and John Wick, my appreciation for Gerard Butler's skills put this film at the top of my list.
What are some of your favorite revenge films? Got something that you love that wasn't on my personal favorites list? Is anyone else personally hoping for a John Wick 2? Let me know in the comments!