After watching hundreds of movies which span the world and decades, I have complied a list of my favorite badasses in film.
5. Bryan Mills in Taken
What list of badasses can be complete without the protagonist and jack-of-all-awesome Bryan Mills? When faced with the kidnapping of his dear daughter, Mill’s (Liam Neeson) first reaction is to threaten the terrorists with death. Next step: make that threat a reality. Mills then spends the rest of the movie killing his way back to his daughter.
That’s the whole movie. It’s just a series of fight scenes that separate Mills from his daughter. And those fight scenes are super badass. Whether on a boat, in a car, out on the town, in the kitchen, inside a mansion, having dinner, or at a sex slavery auction, Mills manages to find someone that he can either punch or shoot in the face in order to save his daughter.
4. John Ottway in The Grey
I’ve already described this movie in exact detail, but Ottway (Liam Neeson) still deserves his spot on the list. It’s pretty much the same thing as Taken, in that Ottway’s character only has one goal: kill all the things (in this case, the things are wolves). After a hellish plane crash, Ottway has to lead a bunch of gritty survivors in the cold winter to safety… though, not if the wolves have anything to say about it! But yeah, he shoots and punches wolves in this movie. I think any Liam Neeson movie that relies on punching will probably make it into this list.
3. Ra’s al Ghul in Batman Begins
Oh snap, more Neeson! Perfect! Well, I mean, certainly not that much punching, but there’s still sword-fighting on ice and having the audacity (of hope?) to try to destroy Gotham City.
Not only is Ra’s al Guhl’s (Liam Neeson) hallucination fight with Batman totally awesome, but he also gave Batman his most important training while organizing a plot to destroy a major city. Ra’s earns loads of badass points for being great at time management, defeating Batman while dueling on a frozen lake, and for attempting to crash a train into Wayne Towers.
2. Aslan in The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe
Mixing it up a bit with an animal character! Bet you didn’t see that coming! Is there any animal that even comes close to the masculinity and Jesus-allegory…ing that Aslan… does? No way!
First, Aslan (Liam Neeson) creates the whole world in which the Penvensie children get to have amazing adventures in, then he goes ahead and scarifies himself to save the children from the dreaded White Witch. Then, he Christs the crap out of Narnia by resurrecting himself so he can personally maul the White Witch. And don’t forget humbleness as a key trait of the true badass. Once everyone starts partying and celebrating themselves for all the work that Aslan singlehandedly did, he just slips out and moves onto other things. Badasses don’t gloat.
1. Daniel in Love Actually
As you can tell by looking at the DVD collection of any male college student, Love Actually is essentially a cinematic love letter to our culture’s worship of manliness. Once he tragically loses his wife, Daniel (Liam Neeson) deals with raising his stepson as a single parent. What takes more courage and determination than that?
Daniel manages to help both himself and his stepson heal the wife-shaped-holes in their hearts and get their lives back on track. He gives his son useful advice and they both end up with wondrously happy experiences by the end of the film. Daniel has the forethought and boldness to give his son the advice to follow after the girl he lusts for (even though he must run past post-9/11 security; surely the point that the director intended to convey was that absolutely nothing could stop even the protege of Daniel). Daniel’s palpable masculinity finally manifests when he fulfills his late wife’s final request that he find a nice woman to spend his life with, like Claudia Schiffer. He, of course, follows these instructions precisely when the film ends with him meeting (and then probably boning off camera) Claudia Schiffer.