There is something tantalizing and dangerous about vigilante justice, as the recent release of the film “Seeking Justice” makes all too clear. When the traditional channels of justice fail, some people feel that they have no choice but to take the law into their own hands. The following films feature some of the most famous, and most dangerous, vigilantes.
“Kill Bill: Parts 1 and 2”
When it comes to vigilantes, they don’t come feistier and sometimes downright vicious as Beatrix Kiddo, who takes it as her mission to gain revenge on the men and women who betrayed her. Both of these films contain a number of memorable scenes, and director Tarantino’s signature is present throughout both entries in this series. Perhaps despite ourselves, we come to cheer for this female vigilante, even as part of us also realizes that she sometimes goes too far on her violent rampage. The film also features some of the best fight scenes in recent films, including a remarkable duel between Beatrix and her nemesis, the titular bill (portrayed by David Carradine), which includes the martial arts move to end all martial arts moves (but you’ll have to watch the movie to find out what it is).
Blood, gore, and violence of all types abound in “Mad Max,” a revenge story to end all revenge stories. Of course, the fact that the film stars Mel Gibson in the title role doesn’t hurt, either. When you combine that with the fact that he is set on revenge for the murder of his wife and child, you will find yourself cheering for him, even as he goes on a bloody rampage that is as vicious as it is glorious to watch. Mad Max shows us just how dangerously easy it is to slip into the mindset that there is no justice except that which one can take into one’s own hands. His vigilante acts involve striking back at the vicious gang responsible for his wife’s brutal murder, and these scenes are some of the most thrilling, but also the most disturbing, that you are likely to see in a vigilante film.
“The Dark Knight”
When it comes to vigilantes on film, however, the Batman created in “The Dark Knight” takes the cake. Indeed, this film goes out of its way to promote the message that sometimes, even though it might be dangerous, there is no other option but to take the law into your own hands. Just as importantly, the film also argues that any action, no matter how ruthless, is justifiable so long as it means that the evildoers are finally brought to justice. And, despite ourselves, we agree, since the Joker (portrayed by Heath Ledger), and Harvey Dent (portrayed by Aaron Eckhart), are two of the most violent and psychopathic villains in recent films and Batman’s actions against them, including throwing Dent over the side of a building, are ultimately done for the greater good.
Clearly, vigilante justice has its advantages, even if only during the time that we sit in a movie theater. As these films make clear, there is something very seductive about the possibility of taking justice into our own hands, and there can be pleasure in the exacting of justice (often through violence) upon those who have done wrong.