The film cleverly makes you cheer on the death of the first on screen victim(after several off screen murders) and identify with Henry, but now you’re watching him gleefully terrorize and kill an innocent woman and her children…almost uncomfortable…wow.
The Dirty Dozen:
From the start of the movie we’re told this rag tag group(some of whom are serious criminals) is going to go kill a bunch of Nazis and hey if some civilians get in the way thats war right? Once they finally start their mission…wow holy shit! This movie starts as your typical action adventure war movie and ends up giving you just what you wanted to see in the WORST possible way.
I loved how these movies used film cliches and conventions to make you comfortable before slapping you in the face and saying what is wrong with you?!
Joe Adamson, in his wonderful book Tex Avery: King of Cartoons says that Tex did this in his cartoon Bad Luck Blacky, where at the end of the cartoon the black kitten’s final snicker reveals to the audience that they’ve been cheering on behavior that they condemned when the “Bad Guy” did it at the beginning. I’ll bet most people never caught on, though.
Minus the fourth-wall aspect, V for Vendetta has elements of this, especially when V the terrorist and Evey (kidnapped and near-brainwashed/Stockholm Syndromed by him) blow up the Parliament building and the Prime Minister’s office. It’s a bit of a sting to realize, even with the cause behind them, what exactly you’re cheering on.
The Spartans in 300 are quite proud of the fact that every male in their society is a professional soldier. Which means the “freedom” they are fighting for is the freedom to continue using slaves to do all the actual work. Also, they murder crippled babies.
There are plenty of movies that make you root for the “wrong” side (The original Fred Zinnemann film of *The Day of the Jackal[/i] does this, getting you to cheer for the assassin (but also for the beleaguered French official tracking him). It’s a rare film that explicitly points out to you what it’s doing.
In Glengarry Glen Ross, Jack Lemmon’s character, Sheldon “The Machine” Levine, is an aging real estate salesman who’s fallen on hard times, who’s got a very sick daughter and who’s going to lose his job if he doesn’t make some big sales soon.
He’s such a sad sack, and we feel so sorry for him, we start to root for him to make a big sale… forgetting, momentarily, that he’s peddling worthless land to suckers who can’t afford to buy it. For “poor” Shelly to succeed, some innocent folks have to get duped out of their life savings.