Monday, March 14, 2011

Bad villains = bad movies

I saw Mr and Mrs Smith for the third time on TV the same week as I saw a preview screening of The Adjustment Bureau. Now, people will slay me for this because many of my friends - and the critics - love d'Bureau, but I think both movies are pants, and for exactly the same reasons.

Both lack sufficiently high stakes, for starters. Mr and Mrs Smith is about two professional assassins who go on the run when they fail to kill each other and their bosses put out a hit on them. And we are supposed to care about them... why exactly? Not only do I not care about their fate, it's an inevitable done deal that they will survive, because they are super, highly-trained killers. So they can't die, and I don't really give a crap either way.

Plus, the bosses are faceless shooters. We never get to properly see the people the Smiths are up against - just endless black-clad bad guys. And you really miss a well fleshed-out villain like Hans Gruber. Big time.

In the Adjustment Bureau, Matt Damon and Emily Blunt are at least a likeable lead couple. Early on, Matt is kidnapped by the Bureau men and threatened with getting his brain fried if he continues to pursue his girl. Great - now we have people we care about and high stakes to go with them. Except that the rest of the movie proceeds to totally water down the threat. Matt keeps getting caught by the Bureau, and at no point do they follow through on the brain-frying, or even look like they're about to.

The result? Toothless bad guys and as a result, no real fear factor. The stakes dissipate, I start snoring.

The moral of the story is, raise the stakes as far as they will go and when you have a bad guy, make him bad, but with a personality! Hans Gruber from Die Hard quotes Alexander the Great AND shoots Holly Gennaro's boss in the head within his first five minutes on screen. We can see that he's ruthless and totally evil, and there's still a whole movie to go!

What about YOUR villain? Can he compare with Hans, or is he all talk and no action?


Chelsea said...
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Chelsea said...

I LOVE Mr and Mrs Smith! lol. I guess technically, the characters and plot aren't really great, but it's simply my all-time guilty pleasure. Love both Brad and Angie so seeing them hit the crap out of each other was pretty funny.
I have yet to see Adjustment bureau so I can't really comment on that.
A bad bad guy is always a good contributor to a movie, but I don't really have a problem with a movie without one. Unless you mean particularly action movies; they need bad guys. In MaMS, both of them were both the good and the bad guy. I kind of liked that twist of the usual scenario. But then again, everyone has his or her own opinion.

Eilis Mernagh said...

M&MS is worth watching just to speculate on whether Brad and Angie have chemistry on screen! Were they together at that point? We'll never know...

I guess it just bugs me that we never find out much about their mysterious bosses either...