Action movie

5 Underrated Action Movie Villains Of The 2000s

The 2000s were a radically different era for action cinema, thanks in large part to the modern innovation of the cinematic universe. Before the MCU, DCEU, Monsterverse, and Dark Universe, action movies were free to experiment and innovate with new types of antagonists and enemies on the big screen.

After the radical “in your face” vibe of the 90s and the hyper-masculine fare of 80s action heroes, the 2000s were a bit of an odd time for the genre. A dated, edgy young adult melodrama would clash with a semi-true historical epic. The 2000s were a strange time, and not all of the great villains of the era spent their time in the sun.


RELATED: 5 Forgotten Horror Movies From The 2000s

Convenient – Gladiator

Joaquin Phoenix, perhaps now best known as the star of Joker, turns in a stellar performance as the nightmarish Roman Emperor Commodus. This classic piece from the Ridley Scott period combines sobering depictions of the brutality of the past with well-executed actions. Russell Crowe stars as Maximus, but the plot is driven by the scheming monster who seizes the throne. Commodus is the source of all the evil that befalls Maxime. He strikes down his own father, then has Maximus’ wife and son brutally murdered, then leaves the warrior for dead. Cruelty is the fire that makes Commodus a threat, but ambition is the most interesting aspect of his character. His lust for power leaves him obsessed with public perception, making him one of the most chilling portrayals of a politician in movie history. In every way, Commodus is perfectly executed.

Girgori Rasputin – Hellboy

Adapted from Hellboy comics, which, in turn, were adapted from the life of the Russian mystic, the on-screen version of the Mad Monk is a haunting villain. At Guillermo del Toro’s Hellboy the movies are underrated as a whole, but the first movie has a far superior villain to the second. Rasputin is a powerful occultist who harbors an otherworldly being within him. His attempts to free the malevolent beings he serves accidentally result in a young Hellboy appearing on Earth. Rasputin wants to unleash an otherworldly cosmic force that could cause the death of all things, but, after discovering Hellboy, changes his plans. The Mad Monk isn’t out to defeat the good guy in the movie, he’s out to corrupt him. Rasputin’s motivations are interesting and his methods are deeply compelling. The plot-heavy narrative makes it historically fascinating, and Karel Roden’s performance in the role is spot-on.

Kitano- battle royale

Tragically, this 2000 Japanese action/horror epic was largely reduced to being the namesake of an incredibly popular game genre. With a concept that would later be made world famous by The hunger games, this adaptation of Koushun Takami’s novel is a gripping human drama. In the dark near future, the Japanese government has passed legislation aimed at stopping teenage delinquency. They plan to keep the kids in line by picking a middle school class, shipping them to an island, and forcing them to kill each other until one is left.

Kitano is the class teacher who, after being injured by a student, names his class for the violent lesson. Kitano, named after his portrait painter Takeshi Kitano, is not as sadistic or cruel as one might think. He is indifferent to the deaths of his students, ready to kill at any moment, and described as pushed forward rather than cheerful for his new position. Takeshi Kitano is an effortlessly charismatic performer, and his stripped-down performance is a perfect embodiment of the banality of evil.

St. Howard – The Punisher

Jonathan Hensleigh’s 2004 take on Frank Castle couldn’t be more different from the modern MCU iteration, but it still has its merits. One of those merits is the hilariously evil Howard Saint, a violent mobster who feels peeled from the pages of a first Punisher comic. John Travolta may be a tough actor with plenty of weird roles under his belt, but a scenery-chewing villain is in his comfort zone. Saint is responsible for the death of Castle’s family, so The Punisher’s quest for revenge seeks to destroy him specifically. Back and forth between Thomas Jane’s Castle and Travolta’s Saint relinquishes the narrative power of the MCU Punisher but comes with a different kind of fun. It’s hard to imagine a modern action movie featuring a villain like Howard Saint.

Simon Skinner- Warm fuzz

The big twist at the end of Edgar Wright’s beloved deconstruction of American cop movies reveals that almost all of the characters were bad guys. The one character in that crowd that everyone would have seen coming was annoying chipper Simon Skinner. Timothy Dalton’s upbeat supermarket manager is one of the most impressive performances in modern cinematic history. Skinner isn’t technically the film’s main villain, but he’s the most dangerous, dynamic, and engaging force on screen at any given time. Skinner isn’t scary because he could kill someone, all he has to do is smile and make small talk to look like pure evil.

MORE: 5 Action Movies Where The Villain Wins