God’s lonely men

6 Dec

There is always something compelling about movie characters that embody the quintessential loner’s qualities. Whether they’re alone by choice or circumstances, it will always make for compelling stories and when it’s done right, becomes an unforgettable story. Maybe it’s the ‘me vs the world’ attitude, maybe it’s a different perspective they bring into the world or maybe they just don’t give a damn about what other people think. Whatever the case, these lone wolves have become permanent icons in cinema’s history. Here’s my top 5 list.


5. The Man With No Name (The Dollars Trilogy, 1964-1966)


“You see, in this world there’s two kinds of people, my friend: Those with loaded guns and those who dig. You dig.”


A total bad ass from start to finish, The Man With No Name introduced Clint Eastwood as the new breed of anti-hero with  few words who lets his vintage Colt 1851 Navy .36 quick draw to do most of the talking. His origin is never explained, he mysteriously appears in ‘A Fistful of Dollars’ as a lone gunman who is hired as a mercenary by a gang of criminals who’s waging a war against another gang. The Man With No Name cleverly works for both sides and sets a motion to destroy both gangs. I would rank him as one of the greatest western character of all time, mainly due to the re-invention of the tired western genre into spaghetti western by the great Sergio Leone and the way Eastwood made poncho wearing and smoking cigarillo as one of the coolest thing to ever grace across cinema and to this day, only he could pull it off. He’s also sporting a mean grizzly looking beard that can cut you into 345 tiny pieces just by staring at you.


4. Robert Neville (The Omega Man, 1971)


“ How much for a trade-in on my Ford? Oh, really? Thanks a lot, you cheating bastard…” (Talking to moldy corpse in car dealership)


The predecessor to Will Smith’s ‘I am Legend’, the world has been overrun by an infected vampire like creatures. The only last normal man alive who is immune to the disease and ferociously trying to work on the serum is Robert Neville played by Charlton Heston. He hunts vampires at night, plays chess with a head statue of Caesar and roams around deserted Los Angeles during the day while trying hard to keep his sanity intact. Neville is literally a messianic loner who takes on an infected world and doing it with style, but then again what did you expect from a man who played Moses (The Ten Commandments) and stood up against the apes (Planet of the Apes)?



3. Leon (The Professional, 1994)


“It’s my best friend. Always happy. No questions.” (Referring to his plant)


An illiterate loner assassin with an unhealthy fondness for milk, plant and Gene Kelly. There is something fittingly childlike about Leon, like a man who is out of a touch with the world/reality. I imagine his back story would be something akin to a simple gentle boy who grew up in a secluded mountain, cut off from civilization and forced to be trained as an assassin for an exclusive employer. Leon is truly Luc Besson’s masterpiece because he played up to the typical cool idea of a loner assassin’s character but mixing it with plenty of humane oddities. He doesn’t feel alive until he meets Matilda and their relationship is edging towards surreal/complicated love story about a lonely innocent old man and an underage seductress/temptress. Still, Leon’s proficiency at killing silently or fighting smartly against opponents in superior numbers mixed with his inability to assimilate with the general human population will always make him a unique character, even for a loner.


2. Jeff Costello (Le Samourai, 1967)


“I never lose. Never really.”


The original architect of cool loner assassin; cold, deadly, silent type, calculating to a fault and meticulous in every detail. Every modern loner assassin in films owe their existence to Costello in some way or another. Alain Delon played Costello to perfection. The subtle movements that always mean something, the calm glacier death stare of an angel whose sole existence is to bring down reckoning upon the victims. If the angel of death would ever personify a face, Costello would be it.


1. Travis Bickle (Taxi Driver, 1976)


“Loneliness has followed me my whole life. Everywhere. In bars, in cars, sidewalks, stores, everywhere. There’s no escape. I’m God’s lonely man…”


If you want to study the existence of loneliness as a sickness among the living, watch Travis Bickle. You’ll get a glimpse of a man who is crippled by loneliness and alienation all throughout his life until it finally reaches a climaxing point of orgasmic violence. There is an aura of sick repressive sexual urgency within him and it’s been bottled up inside for too long. De Niro gave a performance of a life time by portraying Bickle as a man desperately tries to make a connection with the living but unable to reconcile with himself. Bickle finally gives up trying and turns to misguided violence in order to find some form of meaningful purpose for his existence.



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