Trying to think of my favorite movies with the name of the protagonist in the title, or at least the name of a major character.
Dredd is about a bureaucrat who blindly follows procedure. What I think is interesting is that the portrayal of Dredd casts him as a sympathetic character, especially when compared to the corrupt bureaucrats he encounters. Dredd may be ruthless and inflexible, but he’s never corrupt. I think it’s great that the movie ends with Dredd fudging the rules just a little bit, showing that underneath his attempts to suppress his humanity, a spark of an idealist still burns.
#3. John Wick
John Wick is a monster in his universe. Seriously, he is one evil dude. The thing that keeps him from being despicable is that while he is a killer who cannot be stopped, he doesn’t kill people for no reason. An important element of the John Wick storyline is that John Wick is in the right. He is the wronged party and while his actions are monstrous in scope, they are also apparently acceptable within the limits of his world.
#2. Jack Reacher
Jack Reacher is a fully despicable character in my book, but the movie doesn’t seem to realize this. It’s this disconnect, and the fact that the movie is actually a good action thriller, that elevates this movie to greatness. Jack Reacher is a kind of Libertarian Batman, who cannot be restrained by your laws, man. He towers above the pygmies that make up all of mortal humanity, obeying not the laws of ye lesser men, but the higher Jack Reacherean Law. Oddly enough, what makes Jack Reacher palatable to me is just how seriously he takes himself. Jack Reacher could never be caught farting, for example, because he would then kill himself. At the same time, Jack Reacher thinks he’s hilarious, but hilarious in Grandpa’s idea of a cool guy kind of way. This is a wonderful movie.
#1. Mad Max: Fury Road
Max has an interesting arc. He starts off as he describes himself: a being reduced to the single instinct to survive. He’s not heroic at all, and in fact is basically one of the bad guys. But through the course the movie he regains his humanity and basically becomes Mad Max again, and goes from a feral human to a straightup badass hero. It’s an awesome journey and while it might be fast it’s only because Max has no time for angst.