5. Die Hard (1988)


Director: John McTiernan
Tagline: 40 Storeys. Twelve Terrorists. One Cop.
Reason for vigilantism: German terrorist Hans Gruber has taken NYPD officer John McClane’s wife, Holly, as hostage during a heist on a Christmas party.
Choice of weapon: Beretta 92F and Heckler & Koch HK94.
Justification of vigilantism: Definitely. It’s the man’s wife we’re talking about here.
Elegance of villainy: Nothing out of this world but dangerous and inhumane.
The scene that stays in your mind: “What the f**king sh*t lady, do I sound like I’m ordering a pizza?!”
“Yippee-ki-yay, Motherf**ker”
Theme score: By Michael Kamen
Trivia: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Burt Reynolds, Richard Gere, Harrison Ford, and Mel Gibson were all offered the lead before Willis got it.
Charismatic lead, brilliant villain (Professor Snape’s first feature film), fantastic action scenes, a simplistic and solid plot, great humour - these are the remedies of a great action film. “The last thing John McClane wanted to be was a hero” but was without choice in order to save his wife – fitted right up the alley of a vigilante premise. One of the most successful franchises and sequels to still retain its appeal, John McClane undoubtedly is one of cinemas’ favourite heroes.

4. RoboCop (1987)


Director: Paul Verhoeven
Tagline: Part man. Part machine. All cop. The future of law enforcement.
Reason for vigilantism: Cleaning up the very crime-infested city of Detroit, set in the future, which left law enforcer, Alex Murphy, more robot than human after an attack. Murphy was specifically on a mission to take down the most notorious thug gang which was the one responsible for his near-death.
Choice of weapon: Auto-9, which was a modified Beretta M93R
Justification of vigilantism: Seeing the brutality in which the thugs showered on Murphy and the state in which they left him to die, coupled with the profit-driven company which ‘manufactured’ him – a thousand times over , and a thousand times again.
Elegance of villainy: Simple and down-to-earth, but ruthless enough to fear.
The scene that stays in your mind: The melting skin of a man being doused with acid, whining agonizingly in front of a moving vehicle that smashed right into him. Nightmare!
Theme score: By Basil Poledouris - superb and memorable.
Trivia: The RoboCop suit was so humid and bulky that Peter Weller (RoboCop) was losing 3 lbs (1.3kg) a day from water loss. Eventually, an air conditioner was installed in the suit.
This was my childhood movie, set on repeat in my tape recorder. It was one of the first few of its kind to introduce the controversial idea of creating a hybrid human in order to save a person’s life.
RoboCop was personable and easily liked by the audience. The direction was smart, pinning RoboCop as the victim of both vicinities – the criminal and the company. You pity him and root for him. There were no crazy CG effects employed into the fight scenes, which I think added to the charm of the movie as it made it more realistic and allowed the focus to be more on RoboCop and his revolutionary machinery.  

3. Kill Bill Vol. 1 & 2 (2003 – 2004)

Trailer (Vol. 1)
Trailer (Vol. 2)

Director: Quentin Tarantino
Tagline: Here comes the bride / Revenge is a dish best served cold
Reason for vigilantism: The betrayal by ex-lover Bill and his Deadly Viper Assassination Squad, which left The Bride aka Beatrix Kiddo in a 4-year coma, and the perceived loss of her unborn baby.
Choice of weapon: Her wrath and skills as a trained assassin. Included a frying pan and a samurai sword.
Justification of vigilantism: I can see why she would be angry and purposeful in her vengeance. But nothing outstanding.
Elegance of villainy: Diverse, elaborate and expert.
The scene that stays in your mind: One was when O-Ren Ishii, played by Lucy Liu, had the top of her head sliced off, revealing the crown of her brain. Eew.
A second one would be the final showdown between The Bride and Bill fought wholly sitting down on seats. Exciting.
Theme score: By RZA - old school and Western, faithful to the aesthetics of Tarantino
Trivia: a) Christopher Allen Nelson, who worked on the special effects, revealed in interview that over 450 gallons of fake blood were used on the two Kill Bill movies.
b) The Japanese symbols on the background of the poster spell "kirubiru" which is the Japanese spelling for "Kill Bill".
This undoubtedly was a no-nonsense straightforward out-for-revenge movie. Uma Thurman as the main was fantastic. The message was simple and the plot direct – hunt down 5 accomplices + 1 boss who did the dirty deed. Firstly it was by renowned director Tarantino, who has a reputation for ridiculously florid fight scenes. In addition, the 5 accomplices visited 5 different scenarios of fighting, and 5 different ways of dying. It was interesting and exhilarating with not a dull moment ensuing.

2. V for Vendetta (2005)


Director: James McTeigue
Tagline: Remember, remember the 5th of November, the gun powder treason and plot. I know of no reason why the gun powder treason should ever be forgot.
Reason for vigilantism: Torture and experiments conducted on code name V and other ‘undesirables’ by a corrupted totalitarian government.
Choice of weapon: Varied - including daggers, poison by swallowing and syringe.
Justification of vigilantism: V is essentially a terrorist. And sometimes, in this modern day and age, infected governments need to be put down. I won’t say so, but I won’t say no either.
Elegance of villainy: Adam Sutler, the Chancellor, is so incorrigible that you really habour hatred for him. The issue is relevant and believable, most non-fantastical of the Top 5.
The scene that stays in your mind: Dominoes falling
Theme score: By Dario Marianelliemboldened and ensorcelling
Trivia: The domino scene, where V tips over black and red dominoes to form a giant letter V, involved 22,000 dominoes. It took 4 professional domino assemblers 200 hours to set it up.
This is my favourite movie of all time.
It is a combination of factors, as personified by the dominoes. Acting on the part of Hugo Weaving (V) is remarkable, probably the best to ever portray such passionate emotions without actually showing his face. It is expected since Weaving came from a theatrical background. On the part of Natalie Portman. Meh. This certainly wasn’t one of her best.
I’ve never heard a better script in any movie before, so thought-provoking and unapologetically confrontational, forming the skeleton of the film. Suddenly the voice of V becomes the voice of reason at the back of our heads. The depth of each character – Adam Sutler, Creedy, Finch, Deitrich, Lewis Prothero, Delia Surridge, Valerie – makes the plot meaty. But it truly was the great casting of individual actors that brought the film to life.
The directing of McTeigue is unprecedented. From the camera angle to choice lightning in prize scenes were the subtle tricks that make all the difference. You won’t forget V, and you won’t be able to forget this movie after watching it once. 

1. Batman (1989)

Interview with Michael Keaton and Tim Burton

Director: Tim Burton
Tagline: -
Reason for vigilantism: After witnessing his parents get mugged and murdered at a back alley as a young boy, Bruce Wayne aka Batman, has chosen to be the guardian of the night in Gotham City.
Choice of weapon: Utility belt and a mocked-up GE M134 Minigun on the Batwing.
Justification of vigilantism: Well. It doesn’t make you scream bloody murder, but it really seemed someone needed to step up to the plate of the anarchic and unruly Gotham.
Elegance of villainy: Grotesque and tasteless, which makes it so enticing. Jack Nicholson as The Joker is one of the best cinematic history has seen.
The scene that stays in your mind: The Joker and his minions debasing an art museum
Theme score: By Danny Elfman iconic, dark and forceful.
Trivia: Robin Williams, Willem Dafoe, David Bowie, John Lithgow, Tim Curry, and James Woods were all considered for The Joker.
The face of Joker used to give me nightmares as a child.
Batman was the king of all kings, the yardstick of all classics. A stoic, monosyllabic hero, pitted against a flamboyant psychopathic villain, in the face of rescuing a damsel in distress, against the backdrop of a dark and gloomy overcast courtesy of the wayward Tim Burton – you’ve got yourself nothing short of a smash hit.
Unlike Spiderman with his makeshift hero headquarters fashioned out of his yet-to-hit-puberty boyish bedroom (I’m talking about all Spidermen), Batman had one of the most holistic vigilante lifestyle and equipment for his alternate identity. He has a secret compartment in his house that functioned as Batman’s headquarters; he had a Batmobile (for the love of God); a fierce totally voguish costume made of leather; a sidekick (Robin); a trusted confidante in the form of Alfred his butler, a totally unrealistic support system in the NYPD, and a call-for-help sign that flashes in the sky?! God, Batman is really just the coolest.
Batman was the originator of its kind. Just shy of being over-indulgent and redundant in unnecessary extravagance, Burton knew how to feed his audience and comic book fanatics just enough (action, romance, villainy, fantasy, storyline of vengeance, and humour) so the plot remains tasteful without being overtly-satiating.
Batman was a true blue superhero slash vigilante movie. He was a figure of respect and nobility, and you could feel yourself looking up to him. And that is why, with all common sense put together, the original  takes the cake.

Kick –Ass (2010)


This was no less than a fortuitous hit at the box office. Everyone was like ‘Stupid title, cheesy costumes, stupid boys trying to play hero, Nicholas Cage (?!?!?), tired out storyline’ – it was going to be the biggest flop that splashed the loudest, they say.
But who knew. Cage was actually good, (actually he is a good actor, just a terrible celebrity), the action sequences were fabulous, and the plot didn’t turn out as cheesy as one would have thought. Ironically, the humour and dimwittedness of the main actors put the charm in the kick.
Aesthetically, it was extremely commendable. It was superb and novel enough, but put alongside classics and more sombre entities, the baby has got to give way to the big guns.

Trivia references by IMDB
Images courtesy of Gettyimages