When the hero is actually the villain (spoilers for Jurassic Park II & other movies)

In not a few action/adventure movies, the heroes are placed in jeopardy by actions they themselves committed. Sometimes they get called on it, but more frequently (at least in the past few years), the audience is implicitly asked to accept the protagonists’ actions are worthwhile for no good reason. This never fails to to piss me off, particularly when innocent characters pay for the heroes’ recklessness or stupidity with their lives.

A prime offender to my mind is Jurassic Park II: The Lost World. How did Nick van Owen (Vince Vaughn’s character) avoid multiple wrongful death lawsuits in this flick? As I recall, Nick

  1. Releases the dinosaurs the InGen party was holding, causing a stampede that destroyed InGen’s communication equipment and made it impossible to call for help, as well as likely injuring or killing a few members of that group.

  2. Brings the baby tyrannosaur back to the Hammond party’s trailer, prompting the attack by the two parent tyrannosaurs, thus causing the death of Eddie (Richard Schiff’s character) and the destruction of the rest of the communication equipment, making it impossible to call for help and necessitating the hike to the center of the island through velociraptor territory.

  3. Steals the ammunition from Roland’s elephant gun, making it much harder to protect the group from the tyrannosaurs, who naturally attack again and kill other people in the group–then shows off his stupidity and arrogance by smugly displaying the bullets on the helicopter. (Admittedly, that gun wasn’t likely to work anyway, given that Roland was inexplicably walking around with its barrel pointed up despite the fact that it was raining–but it’s the principle of the thing.

I’ve always assumed the reason Nick doesn’t appear during the San Francisco sequence is that the Malcolm and Sarah threw him out of the helicopter, as he is clearly too stupid (or evil) to live.

Anybody else have any examples?

Yeah, I don’t know what happened with JP2. Say what you want about his films, but Spielberg usually has a finely honed moral sense. Why the director of Jaws would think human lives are worth less than dinosaurs is beyond me.

The weird thing is, while the so-called “heroes” were actually murderers (the Julliane Moore character was almost as bad as Vince Vaughn), the supposed villain - the entrepaneur who hired the hunters to stock his amusement part - hadn’t actually done anything wrong! Sure, he was arrogant, and he wore a suit (eeevil!), but when he turned to the “heroes” and said something like:

“We made these dinosaurs, and we can do what we want with them!”

…instead of hissing like I was apparently supposed to, I thought to myself, well, yeah. Why not? It’s not as if they were taking the beasts from their natural habitats, because a dinosaur’s natural habitat is 65 million years ago, and a dinosaurs natural activity is to be extinct. Just having them exist at all is a gross violation of the natural order of things - if you’re not going to put them in a zoo, then I say machinegun the motherfuckers.

Again, I don’t know what Spielberg was thinking.

the first example I can think of is

No Way Out, where Kevin Costner is the investigator looking for the Russian spy, which at the very end we learn is HIM!

In Air Force One, the lead SS agent is in on it, which isn’t quite the same thing.

Seconded. The Lost World is an absolutely baffling example of squandered potential all around.

What did you expect from that son-of-a-bitch Van Owen? If I were Roland, I’d…

… blow Van Owen’s body from here to Johannasburg?

Oh, Roland the headless Thomson Gunner …

Talkin’ about the man…

The eternal Thompson gunner, still wandering through the night…
prr, it’s spelled Thompson. But you know the song, so no foul. :smiley:

No foul? Guy gets his frickin’ head taken off and you don’t call the foul?

Red card for that one, I’m sure, but Roland still gets MVP!

In Die Hard 2, significant numbers of people supposedly on the side of good aren’t, but I don’t think that’s what you’re looking for.

In the Matrix movies, most of the Awakened are cop-killers, especially Trinity and Neo.

Well, not MOST of the Awakened; after all, they mostly live in Zion and don’t go on missions, But Morpheus’ crew, and presumably those on other ships, are definitely killing innocent people for what they perceive as the greater good. I’m not sure that that makes them villainous, but it bothers me that there’s no acknowledgement of the moral ambiguity of their position.

“Hero” with Jet Li is I think the perfect example of this.

Li’s character, who I believe is just referred to as “nameless”, sets out to assassinate the warlord that is trying to conquer all of China. His scheme for accomplishing this is very intricate and requires getting the assistance of the Warlord’s own chief assassins. The story is told mostly in flashback explaining how nameless now comes before the warlord. In the final moments nameless realizes that this warlords intentions are good. He’s trying to unite all of China to usher in a time of peace and prosperity. He is also sorry for the innocents hurt by his plans but feels it is for the greater good for the future. Nameless realizes that this warlord is the only one who can accomplish this. Nameless then sacrifices himself to die as a villain in order for the warlord to not lose face and consolidate his power. Nameless dies in a hail of arrows.

You mean the love letter to Joseph Stalin, don’t you? :smiley:

I see your point, but I don’t agree. That is, though I love the movie’s cinematography–rarely have I seen anything so beautiful on screen as the battle between Zhang Ziyi and Maggie Cheung–and though I found the story engrossing, I found its plot repellant. It’s a justification for totalitarianism and mass murder. In the pivotal conversation between Nameless and the King of Qin, if I recall it aright, both Nameless and the King agreed that the King’s policies would result in the destruction, not merely the subjugation, of Nameless’ homeland (as if even the subjugation itself was justified). The King’s lust for power and glory were the true motives behind his desire to conquer the rest of the land; his remarks about the need for unified writing and measurements were sophistry and rationalizations. Unless you think the ONLY way to achieve greater economic and scholarly achievement is to exterminate hundreds of people at a time.

The recent 16 Blocks, a muchly-underappreciated flick starring Bruce Willis and Mos Def.

[spoiler]Willis is a cop trying to get Mos Def, who is going to testify against a bunch of corrupt police officers, 16 blocks to the courthouse through what appears to be half of NYC’s police force. Then we find out…

Willis was one of the corrupt cops Ms Def’s testimony is going to put away. :eek:

hehe, I like the single scared smiley face in the black box

Interesting question. I hope for some more answers. What I can think of right now:

  • He-man. Apart from the narrator calling Skeletor “the most evil man in the universe”, what do we really know about the situation. Isnt it possible that he is just a freedom fighter, fighting an oppressive monarchy.

  • The Jedis in Star Wars ep 2. Why are they fighting to force people to stay in the republic? That can’t be right.

To say anything here would be spoiling it, but…

Angel Heart.

Because the leader of the separatist cause is a Sith lord?

Now are you putting your own feelings on the King of Qin or going from what is in the movie? It now having been nearly two years since I’ve seen it I am going on fuzzy memory. I never got the impression that the king was trying to justify his lust for power or glory with utlitarian motives and that he really was a blood thirsty conqueror . Nor do I think Nameless would have relented if the king had been false about his intentions. The thing I liked about the movie was that the hero realizes that he is the villain in the story. It had a very “I Am Legend” quality to it.
Its not a very American way of looking at things, it comes from a foreign philosphy viewpoint that not a lot of westerners understand. I don’t personally adhere to it though. I don’t watch movies that only reenforce my world view.

I think it fits your OP perfectly in the realm of the movie regardless of whether or not it fits your personal views.