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10 Best Vigilante Movies of All Time

Updated July 14, 2018
6 min read

These people are tough, mean and do not hesitate to hunt down the evil doers in order to bring justice. Sometimes driven by revenge and sometimes self-righteousness, these iconic characters carry the flagship of justice by taking the law into their own hands. They are either a direct victim disillusioned by the loopholes of law and order or are victims of existential crisis. We are excluding superhero movies from the list, so Gotham’s Caped Crusader as well as the masked wall crawler do not make it to our list. Here is the list of top vigilante movies ever. You can watch some of these best vigilante movies on Netflix or Hulu or Amazon Prime.

10.The Brave One (2007)

Erica Brian is one of the two female vigilantes featured on our list. A non-violent radio talk show host, Erica loses her fiancé in a violent attack. Traumatized by the experience, she buys a gun from a black market dealer and avenges her fiancé.  However, in the process, she becomes as violent as the attackers. She commits further acts of vigilantism by killing anyone, whom she sees as a part of a serious crime. The attempt of making the movie is not as brave as the title, still Jodie Foster’s performance as a good character gone ruthless deserves our clap.

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9. Taken Franchise (2008-2014)

Bryan Mills is an ex-CIA operative with a very ‘particular set of skills’. In the first movie, with such skills, Bryan goes on a rampage to find her kidnapped daughter, bashing heads and blowing brains in the process. In order to rescue his daughter, he takes down an entire human trafficking ring. Well-known by fans for dispatching his enemies in a cool and calculative manner, Bryan holds the highest number of body counts on the list.

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8. Inglorious Basterds (2009)

Shosanna Dreyfus is the most unique on the list because of the method she follows in order to exterminate the entire Nazi Regime in one shot. In a rewrite of history, she lures the Nazi high command in her own theatre, uses highly flammable Nitrate film reels and sends out a chilling message before taking out figures like Joseph Goebbles and Adolf Hitler himself. In the aftermath, we kind of wish that the part of her story is not part of an alternate history.

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7. The Equalizer (2014)

A feature film adaptation of the 1980s renowned eponymous TV show, ‘The Equalizer’ tells the story of Robert McCall. A kind-hearted hardware store employee by day, McCall is a ruthless vigilante by night, who takes down wrongdoers in the most brutal fashion. Using his military skills, he decides to punish an army of Russian gangsters for physically abusing a teenage prostitute, whom he considers a friend. To carry out his revenge, he uses the most clinical methods by turning common household items into deadly weapons. The stylized portrayal of the character makes this film a gripping and immersive tale of vigilantism.

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6. Prisoners (2013)

Unpleasant circumstances can turn a good man into a sadistic individual. Keller Dover in Denis Villeneuve’s ‘Prisoners’, is a hardworking family man, who goes insane after the disappearance of his daughter. After abducting the seemingly guilty prime suspect, Dover brings him to an empty apartment for questioning. Using his handyman skills, he virulently tortures the suspect to know the whereabouts of his daughter. The character had our empathy throughout the first half until he reveals the flipside, which is disturbing, brutal and antagonistic.

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5. Drive (2011)

This is the only character on the list without a name as featured in Nicolas Winding Refn’s classic ‘Drive’. Known only as ‘The Driver’, Ryan Gosling’s portrayal of the character is a perfect amalgamation of compassion and brutality. A stuntman by day and a getaway driver by night, the character is as mysterious as he is unforeseeable. To protect a widower and her son from the hands of a violent mob boss, the Driver goes beyond the line of sanity. Throughout the movie, he is a character who always gets the upper hand, even when outnumbered by the enemy.

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4. John Wick (2014)

Next up on our list is the titular character from the movie ‘John Wick’. When a son of a Russian kingpin steals John’s vintage car and kills his pet puppy, which was given to him as a gift by his deceased wife, all hell breaks loose. In retaliation, John single handedly hunts down the son by racking up a huge body count, before putting the lamenting father out of his misery. It can be considered as Keanu Reeves’s comeback to serious action genre. The well-choreographed action sequences and the ‘gun-fu’ style combat will keep you rooting for more.

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3. Man On Fire (2004)

Similar to Robert McCall, John W. Creasy is an ex-military with a history of violence. In the movie, Creasy is hired by a wealthy entrepreneur to protect his daughter. When the girl gets kidnapped, Creasy goes beyond his limits by plunging into the depths of a Mexican food chain. Despite being mortally wounded, he rescues the girl he was hired to protect and hunts down the last remnant of the kidnappers, before succumbing to his injuries. The movie is a cliche but Creasy’s heroism and sacrifice earned him the third spot on our list.

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2. V for Vendetta (2005)

“Remember Remember! The fifth of November!” After hearing this phrase, the first thing that comes to our minds, is the Guy Fawkes mask clad V from the movie ‘V for Vendetta’. Hugo Weaving’s portrayal of this iconic character is both theatrical and sadistic. His way of executing enemies can be painless or can be gruesomely violent. Despite being a shadowy vigilante, he can also be considered as an anarchist, who compels the people of Britain to rise up against a Fascist government with his “bulletproof ideas” and gets the job done in a unique fashion.

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1. Taxi Driver (1976)

The final entry on our list is Travis Bickle from Martin Scorsese’s classic ‘Taxi Driver’. A Vietnam War veteran turned taxi driver, Travis is a time bomb that can explode at any second. His failed attempt to woo a beautiful woman further puts him into deep depression. As the movie progresses, he wages a war against the society’s filth and decides to ‘flush it down the fucking toilet’. After buying a lot of guns from a black market dealer, Travis takes part in a failed assassination attempt to kill a presidential candidate. He finally draws the last blood by killing a couple of pimps and a mob star in order to rescue a teenage prostitute. An epitome of loneliness, Travis Bickle is a hellish portrayal of a PTSD afflicted war vet.

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