We’re 12 years into the 21st century, and while we’ve seen a lot of really terrible movies in that time, we’ve also seen a lot of things that kicked butt.
With apologies to the Rambos and Indys and Blade Running heroes of long ago, we’re here to give a cheer to the most ass-kicking moments of the 2000s. Now if you’ll excuse us, we have to go flick a lit cigarette behind us and walk away from a slow-motion explosion.
THE MOST BADASS USES OF A BATHROOM
Kill Bill Vol. 2 (2004)
Right before plucking her eye out and leaving her for dead, Beatrix tries to drown Elle in the toilet of Bud’s trailer. Now, that’s fighting dirty!
Eastern Promises (2007)
Despite being naked and sliced open in at least five places, Viggo Mortensen’s Nikolai brutally dispatches two Russian gangsters in a bathhouse. This is probably the most enjoyable use of full-frontal male nudity we’ve ever experienced (outside that one regrettable night on ChatRoulette).
Casino Royale (2006)
James Bond’s first-ever kill sees him beat a man to death in a rest room, using everything but the kitchen sink (he uses the bathroom sink, instead).
THE MOST BADASS GUNS
The Leg Cannon, Planet Terror (2007)
Rose McGowan + hideous disfigurement + assault-rifle prosthetic limb = awesomeness (also: pretty much the only memorable moment of the entire movie, which is a damning indictment for a flick that has zombies and Michael Biehn).
Sonic Shotgun, Minority Report (2002)
It appears just briefly, but Tom Cruise still manages to blow three guys with it. We mean, uh, blow three guys across the room with it. Yeah, that’s right.
The BFG, Doom (2005)
It may have been referred to in the movie as the “bio force gun,” but as anyone knows who’s ever spent 72 straight hours hopped up on Sudafed and Mountain Dew playing the game until their eyes bled, this is the one and only Big Fucking Gun. “Oh, shit,” indeed.
The Samaritan, Hellboy (2004)
It’s made of melted-down church bells and the cross from the actual Crucifixion, it weighs 10 pounds, and
it fires holy-water bullets. The one downside to this thing is, it’s not available at your local Bass Pro shops.
THE MOST BADASS USE OF A CARROT
Shoot ’Em Up (2007)
Despite off-the-charts readings on the handsome-o-meter, it’s no shock Clive Owen was upstaged in Shoot ’Em Up by a root vegetable. Does having a carrot rammed into your brain count as one of your five veggies a day?
THE MOST BADASS MUSTACHES
Daniel Day-Lewis in Gangs of New York (2002)
Will anyone ever top Daniel Day-Lewis’ magnificent face fungus?
Daniel Day-Lewis in There Will Be Blood (2007)
Besides Daniel Day-Lewis, we mean.
THE MOST BADASS BEAT-DOWNS
The ground rules of a giant news-anchor gang fight with grenades, tridents, and horses? “No touching of the hair or face. And that’s it!”
After being held hostage for 15 years, we’d feel like beating down a corridor full of bad guys, too. The best part? When Oh Dae-su, having already won, starts whaling on some injured fat dude just for the hell of it. Take that, chubby!
The Raid: Redemption (2012)
One climactic fight has knives, swords, and fists flying, as Rama and Andi go mano a mano (a mano) with the homicidal Mad Dog. Note to potential parents: Calling your kid “Mad Dog” is asking for trouble—just sayin’.
THE BADDEST ASSES
Bad Teacher (2011)
Is there anything worse than needing to go and having to hold it in while waiting for a member of the opposite sex to get out of earshot?
No amount of Drano could possibly undo the horrors that Melissa McCarthy’s food-poisoned bowels unleash on this sink.
Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle (2004)
There are some people who would consider getting stuck in a stall between two attractive women playing a disgusting game of “Battleshits” to be a dream come true. We call those people “our boss.”
THE MOST BADASS USE OF A MINIATURE STEEPLE
Hot Fuzz (2007)
Former Bond Timothy Dalton loses a fight against Simon Pegg’s copper Nicholas Angel and finds himself with a church tower through his throat. Now that’s in-spire-ing!
THE MOST BADASS VEHICLES
The BAT, The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
Sure, it looks like an Apache helicopter fucked an owl, but to us that’s just cute.
Stuntman Mike’s car, Death Proof (2007)
Also a masturbatory aid! If you’re insane, at least.
The Mech Suit, District 9 (2009)
Sure, Wikus got his ass repeatedly kicked, lost everything he had, got his ass kicked a whole bunch more, nearly got his arm chopped off, and ended up being turned into a mutant prawn. But at least he got to have a ride in this sweet mech suit first.
The Black Pearl, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)
Not just the fastest ship of its time but also crewed by an army of freaking zombie pirates. If that isn’t badass, we’ll eat all 27 of our framed Johnny Depp posters.
SHIELD Helicarrier, The Avengers (2012)
It’s an aircraft carrier that flies. And it’s where Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, and the Incredible Hulk hang out and talk shit about how terrible X-Men: The Last Stand was. Also, we want one so bad it hurts.
Nick Persons’ car, Are We There Yet? (2005)
Does it have guns? No. Can it fly? No. Does it turn into a giant robot? No. Is it a Lincoln Navigator with a sweet set of rims, driven by former N.W.A. MC Ice Cube? Yes. Yes, it is.
THE MOST BADASS USE OF CLASSICAL MUSIC
In the surprisingly thoughtful MMA flick Warrior, how does Joel Edgerton focus himself to fight his powerhouse brother, Mr. Bane himself, Tom Hardy? He, uh…He listens to Beethoven. That’s fightin’ music, buddy! You step to Ludwig, you get sonned!
THE MOST BADASS PRISON BREAKOUTS
Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)
It may have been an Apes prequel, but for half an hour, it’s also one of the greatest prison movies ever, as Caesar bribes gorillas, spanks down chimps, and Tasers the holy balls out of the guards. When this monkey throws poop, you’d better believe it’s going to land squarely on the fan.
Escape From New York in space? We’re in! And out!
Mission: Impossible—Ghost Protocol (2011)
Tom Cruise busts out of a Soviet-era prison while having a hilarious silent argument with Simon Pegg. Audiences wonder why Congress can’t pass a law ensuring all blockbusters are directed by Brad Bird.
Rescue Dawn (2006)
It’s basically Batman vs. Vietnam. Score!
THE BIGGEST BADASSES OF THE 21ST CENTURY
King Leonidas, 300 (2006)
He might dress like Superman with Alzheimer’s, but anyone who can kick your ass this hard while wearing sandals deserves a little respect.
Bryan Mills, Taken (2008)
Liam Neeson’s reinvention as a total badass was completed in Taken. Sure, he’s the world’s worst detective (hint: it’s easier to interrogate people if you don’t kill them first), but if you want someone murdered, he’s your guy.
Jason Bourne, the Bourne trilogy (2002–2007)
Who’d have believed that Matt Damon could play a badass? No one, until the Bourne trilogy showed us his face-pounding dark side. He even made reading cool! By which we mean he beat someone to death with a book.
The Joker, The Dark Knight (2008)
He sees your book, Jason Bourne, and raises you a killer pencil. He sees your nude knife fight, Nikolai, and raises you a cross-dressing bomb. He sees your Taser, Caesar, and raises you an exploding intestinal cell phone. An instant cinematic icon, Heath Ledger’s Joker is the scariest guy in a purple suit and makeup since Prince, and the biggest badass of the 21st century.
THE MOST BADASS USE OF FLAGS
G.I. Joe: Retaliation (2012)
Want to let the world know you’re a bunch of evil jerkbags? Unfurl a load of Cobra terrorist flags all over the White House. That’ll do it.