Top 10 Most Likable Action Movie Villains
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Top 10 Most Likable Action Movie Villains

VOICE OVER: Ryan Wild WRITTEN BY: Andy Hammersmith
Whether they were oddly charming or misunderstood, these antagonists made us question our loyalty to the hero. For this list, we'll be looking at baddies from action films that we couldn't help but like. Our countdown includes “Furious 7”, “Collateral”, "Hot Fuzz", and more!
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Top 10 Most Likable Action Movie Villains


Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Most Likable Action Movie Villains.

For this list, we’ll be looking at baddies from action films that we couldn’t help but like. Whether they were oddly charming or misunderstood, these antagonists made us question our loyalty to the hero. Just to be safe, here’s a spoiler warning.

Did we miss your favorite villain? Let us know in the comments below.

#10: Cyrus the Virus

“Con Air” (1997)
John Malkovich brings gravitas to any role, especially his villainous ones. Cyrus the Virus is no different, leading a plane full of prisoners in a hijacking. Somehow, Malkovich's eccentric mannerisms and line delivery makes this criminal all the more memorable. Even in a cast full of great character actors and A-list stars, the performer steals scenes with his oddly enticing demeanor. He's likable in a way that's hard to pin down, but anytime he's out of frame you want to see him come back. Turning "Con Air" into a 90s classic, Cyrus' one-of-a-kind intensity makes for a curiously engaging action movie villain.


#9: Deckard Shaw

“Furious 7” (2015)
Jason Statham's natural star power usually puts him in the hero or anti-hero category, but in "Furious 7" he spreads his villain wings. The performer manages to bring his rough and tumble personality to the "Fast and Furious" franchise while still being likable. As Deckard Shaw, the actor fuses his natural humor with a gruff physicality that keeps the audience on edge. Considering that Shaw is only getting revenge for his brother, it's hard not to empathize on some level with his inner turmoil. His tough guy persona gives way to a host of fun moments, including a finale where he battles Vin Diesel. It's no wonder that Statham was invited back for sequels and spinoffs, given his gratifying presence throughout "Furious 7."

#8: Benedict

“Last Action Hero” (1993)
Perhaps best known for his role on "Game of Thrones," Charles Dance played a series of baddies in his first decades on screen. "Last Action Hero" showcases him at his best. Not only does the tongue-in-cheek bad guy part give him room to stretch his comedic chops, it also gives the actor the ability to subvert movie villain tropes. Whereas a standard villain might fall into obvious pitfalls, Benedict knows that he shouldn't talk too long or give away his sinister plans. With a wink to the camera, this baddie is all the more entertaining for his unique and knowing wit.

#7: Simon Skinner

“Hot Fuzz” (2007)
"Hot Fuzz" takes place in a small English town where nothing much happens. This makes it all the more outrageous when Simon Skinner and other polite townspeople commit a series of grisly murders. Timothy Dalton's cheery exterior makes for several funny moments. It's especially fun to see Dalton outside his usual roles in British dramas, opting instead to play a comically upbeat supermarket manager with a deadly secret. In a stroke of genius casting, director Edgar Wright brilliantly positions the esteemed performer as a lovable man even after revealing his evil ways.

#6: Vincent

“Collateral” (2004)
Vincent’s appeal owes a lot to Tom Cruise’s charisma. But it also comes from the rapport he builds with taxi driver Max. The hitman gets in Max’s cab with a list of names to cross off. The killeris an enthralling right watch from his first sentence. Even as his victims pile up, it’s the villain that keeps us glued to the screen. Playing against type, Cruise uses all the tricks he's learned and funnels them into an inventive and manipulative role. It’s a genius bit of casting that helped make Michael Mann’s thriller a great film.

#5: Howard Payne

“Speed” (1994)
When Dennis Hopper appears in a film, good or bad, you know you're in for a wild ride. "Speed" is no different, with the actor giving audiences one of the most engaging and unpredictable 90s villains. As former bomb squad officer Howard Payne, he holds a bus hostage with an elaborate bomb mechanism. Even though he’s the baddie, he’s one of the best parts of the film. At the climax, Payne lures the heroes to a subway and dishes out another round of exciting one-liners. As with any Hopper performance, the legend delivers a steady stream of eccentric behavior, odd humor, and compelling pathos.

#4: Bodhi

“Point Break” (1991)
Surfer bro Bodhi spends most of "Point Break" trying to seduce FBI agent Johnny Utah to the dark side. It speaks to the magnetism of Patrick Swayze that Utah lets the bank robber go free multiple times. Even though his character heads a criminal gang, the actor brings a dose of believable humanity to the part. Using his track record playing heroes, he carries over his likability and vulnerability over into this darker role. In the end, Utah makes the choice to let the athletic villain surf one last time. Much like Keanu's leading man, the audience can't help but fall under Bodhi's spell during "Point Break."


#3: Raoul Silva

“Skyfall” (2012)
In "Skyfall," Javier Bardem plays a disgruntled ex-MI6 agent with a bone to pick with his former employer. Raoul Silva wants his revenge, feeling betrayed by the intelligence agency and hoping to spread the pain around. Bardem plays the cyberterrorist as both flamboyant and hypnotic in every scene. While he's definitely misguided, there's a tragic air to his corrupted soul. His iconic introduction allows the villain to deliver a moving and ominous monologue, instantly stealing the show. Even in the electric climax, Silva has a presence that makes for a magnetic and captivating Bond nemesis.


#2: Castor Troy

“Face/Off” (1997)
In one of the most bizarre ideas in movie history, "Face/Off" features a very literal plot and two actors having the time of their lives. Nicolas Cage's Castor Troy begins as one of the wilder and loudest performances of his career. After the titular face swap, John Travolta plays Troy in an equally crazy performance. Rarely do two actors get to share the same part in a film, but both leads manage to pull it off. The villain takes firm control over the film and steals the show. With double the insanity, the unstable antagonist shines throughout "Face/Off".

#1: Hans Gruber

“Die Hard” (1988)
"Die Hard" wasn't just a star-making turn for Bruce Willis, it also gave Alan Rickman his screen debut as Hans Gruber. Taking Nakatomi plaza hostage, the criminal mastermind asserts himself as deliciously evil. Sure, he's a bad guy, but there's rarely been a movie heel as endlessly fun to watch as Gruber. With an awesome accent and a signature scowl, it's difficult not to find something lovable about the man. The diabolical antagonist even convinces the unaware hero that he's innocent, in an iconic moment of meta-acting from Rickman. Whether he’s interrogating party guests or fooling John McClane, the “Die Hard” baddie remains one of the most likable action movie villains ever.
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