All heroes need a villain, and all villains need a hero, they’re just the laws of cinema, and more often than not, the hero will eventually crush the villain after overcoming several intense challenges that test every one of his attributes. Villains are written so you oppose them and root for the ‘good guy’, but some villains are so well written and performed that it’s impossible not to like them. Villains are also some of the most complex creations in cinema, a hero’s motivations are often very clear and have no subtext but with a good villain, their ambiguity and muddled intentions is what makes them so captivating.
A villain will either be more interesting than the villain simply because the hero is one of those fairly standard muscular, white guys that only exist in American cinema or because the villain is so well written and performed that it’s impossible to not find him or her interesting.
A good villain often goes side by side with a good hero and they often elevate each other’s quality. A good villain can only get over if the hero they are opposing resonates with the audience, and writing an interesting villain is hard but when it’s done right, as you’ll see below, the results are spectacular. Everybody loves a good villain and the more sadistic, outlandish and sinister the better.
10. Alonzo Harris – Training Day
In David Ayer’s Training Day, we spend pretty much every minute of its running time in the presence of both Ethan Hawke’s hero and Denzel Washington’s anti-hero turned full-on villain, which is a rarity but makes it easy to judge which is the more interesting. Hawke’s young, honest cop faces the moral dilemma of remaining true to his ethics or making a fortune by getting in on Washington’s illegal dealings. Washington’s Alonzo Harris is a force of nature and is easy to be overwhelmed by, for both the audience and Hawke’s rookie.
Harris considers himself the law, and whilst it’s interesting to see Hawke’s character gradually come out of his shell, it’s impossible to resist Harris as he rapidly continues his downward spiral into depravity.
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