Humanity is rife with traitors. Benedict Arnold is the most famous, but there are many, less famous traitors too. Ttraitors make for good movie drama as well. After all, who doesn’t like a last-minute “double-agent” plot twist? So, while you work on your shifty-eyed glances, here are seven film traitors who betrayed their own.
Fredo, “The Godfather Part II.” Perhaps the patron saint of movie traitors, Fredo Corleone gave his brother Michael’s location to the Corleone crime family’s enemies, resulting in an attack on Michael’s home. Fredo didn’t know this information was going to be used this way, which makes his eventual destruction by Michael all the more heartbreaking. Oh, Fredo, you’re almost too likeable to be a traitor.
Dr. Michaels, “Fantastic Voyage.”The mission: On board a ship that is to be miniaturized via cutting edge shrink ray technology, travel into the human body of a prominent scientist who’s been the victim of an assassination attempt and relieve the blood clot that’s slowly killing him. It’s not that easy, though, since one member of the crew isn’t what he appears to be. That would be Dr. Michaels, played by the great Donald Pleasence, who brings a religious fervor to treacherousness. Might be best just to not trust Donald Pleasence, unless you’re in a “Halloween” movie.
Holly Thompson, “They Live.” In “They Live,” humanity has been infiltrated by evil aliens disguised as everyday citizens. The only way to see which people are real and which are aliens is to put on a pair of special sunglasses. Pro wrestler Roddy Piper plays a man who stumbles on just such a pair, and ends up joining a more organized underground resistance movement. Unfortunately, one of the members of this movement is a girl he’ taken hostage a while earlier. Worse still, she ends up being a double agent for the aliens. The lesson? Don’t trust any old pair of pretty eyes, even if they happen to be human.
Lando Calrissian, “The Empire Strikes Back.” Not all traitors are cowardly or evil. In the case of Lando here, he had no choice but to give Han Solo up to the Empire. What would you do if you had Darth Vader breathing down your neck? To make up for his treachery, Lando proved his mettle be fighting against the Empire, and ended up getting an advertising deal with Colt 45 malt liquor. Sometimes things work out, even for (former) traitors.
Cypher, “The Matrix.” Many movie traitors are just in it for themselves—as long as they get taken care of, they don’t care about any larger struggle. So it is with Cypher, a member of the resistance against the machines and the Matrix they’ve set up to keep humanity ignorant, dreaming and happy. So he sets up a deal with the machines to sell out his comrades, on the condition that he gets to go back into the Matrix with no memory of life in the real world. The machines end up just destroying the ship, anyway, which shows it’s not always smart to betray the underdogs.
Robert Hanssen, “Breach.” Here’s a movie traitor who comes from the real world. Hanssen, played by Chris Cooper, was a real FBI agent who sold government secrets to the Russians. In the movie, as in the real world, he eventually gets caught and is given a life sentence in jail. Has anyone considered the possibility he may have been forced to do what he did by Darth Vader?