Plenty of movies have characters who are sociopaths or psychopaths. Famous villains such as Hannibal Lector, Norman Bates, or Annie Wilkes (the insane, “Fan,” played by Kathy Bates in, “Misery,”) have graced the silver screen and left audiences shocked. What you do not see as often, however, are flicks where the psychopaths and sociopaths are the protagonists or simply side-characters who are pretty decent folks–other than, you know, being extremely dangerous. This list looks at ten of them.
10. Sherlock Holmes
Detective Holmes comes in at the top of the list because depending no what movie you are watching with him he sometimes can come across a lot more caring than the source material portrayed him as. In the original books he appeared in Sherlock Holmes is cold, calculating, and outright doesn’t care if people live or die. Some movies like, “Mr. Holmes,” with the indelible Ian McKellen present a more cold and dry Holmes but then the Robert Downey Jr. led films have Sherlock outright looking like a sweet guy. The movies that stick closer to the source material know the truth however, Holmes is as emotionless as the most dangerous sociopaths around, and thankfully uses this lack of caring for others towards good rather than evil.
9. John Beckwith and Jeremy Gray AKA The Wedding Crashers
In the movie, “The Wedding Crashers,” we witness as John Beckwith (Owen Wilson) and Jeremy Gray (Vince Vaughn) go to wedding after wedding for the sole purpose of taking advantage of free food and bedding horny women. They repeatedly lie to everyone’s face with little remorse and the whole time we the audience are actually cheering for them despite how terrible they are. Whether this is due to the fact they encounter some characters even more sleazy than they are (Bradley Cooper’s character of Sack Lodge) or if this is due to the fact Wilson and Vaughn have an undeniable charisma and chemistry together is up for debate. What is obvious, however, is that if you were to actually meet these guys in real life you’d probably actually think they are huge sociopaths.
8. Charles Foster Kane
Watching the classic movie that many consider one of the best ever-made, “Citizen Kane,” means you are witnessing a reporter talk to various people who knew the recently-deceased Kane and it slowly becoming apparent that Charles Kane was actually a pretty terrible man. The movie paints the picture of someone so desperate to prove himself to others and be loved by everyone he ends up achieving the exact opposite–being hated by almost everyone who ever knew him and dying alone. This is because no matter how much Kane wants to be liked he actually only succeeds at driving people away due to how outright ruthless, uncaring, and cruel he can be. These exact qualities help him excel at business and become a millionaire, but make him very ill-suited to actually being a decent human being. By the end of the movie however the audience still sympathizes with the guy however.
Vin Diesel’s character of Riddick is someone who will do good deeds as well as horrible things for no reason other than he feels like it. He’s appeared in a number of movies and basically brings down an evil space-empire in the second film he appears in (The Chronicles of Riddick) because its ruler pisses him off and won’t let him live a quiet life alone. Again, he takes down a whole empire because he’s annoyed and easily shrugs-off how many people he has to kill to do it.
6. Diana Budgie
In the movie, “Identity Thief,” Melissa McCarthy’s character Diana is a mediocre grifter and conwoman who finds herself in a lot of trouble when one of her identity theft victims (Jason Bateman as Sandy Patterson) tracks her down and demands she helps get him out of a whole lot of legal trouble she’s put him in. Throughout the movie McCarthy lies, cheats, and steals, but remains sympathetic enough (and has Bateman along to help ground her) that she never comes across as being anything less than a bit of a rabble-rouser as opposed to a bad guy.
5. Jay and Silent Bob
Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob (Kevin Smith) have appeared in many of the movies directed by Kevin Smith and are a duo as attached at the hip as they are huge uncaring sociopaths. Jay and Silent Bob never are outright antagonists in any of the flicks they appear in whether it is as the main focus or popping-up as little side-characters. Yes, they smoke weed, get drunk, beat people up, curse a lot, and otherwise don’t care about anyone other than themselves, but they aren’t villains, just huge jerks who sometimes are helpful and sometimes might punch you if you look at them funny.
4. The Mask AKA Stanley Ipkiss
The movie, “The Mask,” draws from a comic-book and features Jim Carrey as Stanley Ipkiss, an often picked-upon bank employee who puts on a mysterious mask he finds in a floating pile of garbage one night and turns into the titular masked…hero? The reason that has a question mark is that when he’s the Mask Stanley Ipkiss isn’t really much of heroic character. He basically does all the stuff he dreams he could do when non-powered but can’t. He brutally assaults some mechanics who ripped him off, he flirts with a sexy bank customer (Cameron Diaz in her first big film role) whom he was tongue-tied with previously, and robs a bank so he can get a lot of cash fast. He also manages to take-down an evil mobster however and ends-up inadvertently saving the day even though anything Ipkiss does when he’s The Mask is really for his own interests. An accidentally heroic psychopath, then?
3. Amy Dunne
“Gone Girl,” is a weird movie that draws from an equally strange book. The story focuses at first on a man named Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) who seems like he may have killed his wife and hidden her body somewhere. He’s uncaring, removed, and has been cheating on her for a good deal of time. However, then it is revealed his wife, Amy Dunne (Rosamund Pike), is perfectly fine and has simply staged everything to make Nick look like a possible murderer because Amy is mad about the fact he’s given-up on their marriage and been cheating on her. Show the movie to a group of people and some will say Nick is clearly a bad guy even if Amy is going to extreme lengths, others will say Amy is a huge psychopath and clearly a villain. Everyone can probably at least agree that both Nick and Amy Dunne are some really messed-up people and that–in a twisted way–makes them perfect for each other.
Imagine if someone told you the plot of one of the best, “Batman,” movies ever but worded as such, “A rich man who dresses-up in an elaborate outfit and enjoys beating people within an inch of their life fights a bank-robber who threatens to blow-up the city by himself blowing-up huge chunks of that city with a decked-out tank-car and hacks everyone’s cell-phones and uses their signals to create a way he can see everything going on in the city at all times…so that he can catch one guy.” Yes, Batman is a hero, but frankly in the just-described movie, “The Dark Knight,” isn’t it a little disturbing just how much twisted stuff Batman himself does in order to fight, “The Joker,” a man who it is repeatedly pointed-out would not even exist without Batman there to give him something to do as an opposing force? Batman may be a hero, but he’s undoubtedly a psychopath as well.
1. James Bond
James Bond has a body-count that must be in the quadruple digits, seems to enjoy outright hurting people, has sex with countless women he often seduces under false pretenses before abandoning, and is somehow considered a hero by many adoring fans of his movies? Some, “James Bond,” films paint him in a bit more of a tender light, but generally even the movies the least-harsh about Bond are aware this man is a cold-blooded killer who is basically an unfeeling machine. He is more a weapon than a person and as long as he is pointed in the right direction of the people his Government wants him to hurt they’ll look the other way when it comes to just how terrible of a human he actually is. The one thing that maybe makes James Bond excusable is that he only seems to kill people even worse than him.
David Bitterbaum is the longtime writer of The Newest Rant where he discusses how he loves all of popular culture, except for the stuff he hates. He often rambles about everything from movies, to music, television, and often comic-books. He lives in Saint Louis with his extremely patient wife and son.