Every great action story needs a villain, and every great action villain needs an enforcer. Going all the way back to the days of Beelzebub getting his hands dirty for the big man downstairs, right-hand men have been key to setting tremendous conflict into motion. Be it in District 9 or your classic Bond flick, these goons wreak varying degrees of havoc with motivations that range from personal vendettas to on-the-clock hooliganism.
In Neill Blomkamp’s forthcoming action-thriller Elysium, Matt Damon’s character Max will square off against one of the most cunning baddies to ever sleaze up the screen. So to commemorate the release of Columbia TriStar’s sci-fi/action smash-up Elysium, opening in theaters on August 9th, we’re stoked to present you with the seven greatest action movie enforcers.
What would happen if you had to deputize Patrick Bateman from American Psycho to get the job done? That is essentially the quandary posed and answered in Elysium when Jodie Foster’s Secretary Delacourt must let Kruger out of his cage. As the most sadistic post-apocalyptic baddie this side of The Road Warrior, Sharlto Copley goes against type in this role, delivering a sinewy psycho whose sense of duty is outweighed by an oddly playful bloodlust. Despite the high-tech noodlery of the year 2154, Kruger proves that sometimes a nice, rusty machete is all a fella needs to take the edge off of a bad day at work.
You gotta be doing some serious henchman-ing to be considered the most ridiculous Bond villain. It just wasn’t enough to just have the durability to survive falling out of a plane, driving off of a cliff and fighting off a shark based on brute strength alone; this guy needed to have a grill that would make Lil’ Wayne blush on top of it! Pointlessly chewing his way out of situations and into our hearts, even Jaws could not survive Moonraker, which to this day serves as the apex of Bond franchise goofdickery next to that one with the voodoo and the chubby sheriff. It’s amazing, given the array of Bond villains spoofed in the Austin Powers franchise, that Jaws never quite made the cut.
That whole horse-head-in-a-bed thing? Luca’s handiwork. He may have been a towering, stuttering creep, but as Vito Corleone’s undercover muscle, Brasi was a terrific iceman because he didn’t require a crew to make a hit. Sadly, that whole lone wolf thing was precisely what lead to his downfall when three goons from the Sollozzo family saw to it that Luca slept with the fishes. Fun fact: On the low-key hired-killer tip, if you apply the lyrics of the Suzanne Vega song to this character, it kind of lines up: he doesn’t want you asking about some kind of trouble, some kind of fight. Just don’t ask him what it was.
Caddy. Cheaffeur. Assassin. Odd Job wore many hats, but the most useful of them all would have to be the one with the razor-brim on it. When he wasn’t busy decapitating statues in Goldfinger’s front yard, the dapper merc could be found enjoying his favorite hobbies: tenaciously following 007 around, accepting pain from 007 with menacing smirks and tending to his derby cap with shocking aplomb. They just don’t make goons like this anymore; the guy helped his boss kill a woman by painting her to death. Sigh.
Karl, like most Germans, ist a herr who knows precisely what he wants. For example, in the great takeover of Nakatomi Plaza, after his brother Tony (?) has been brutally pwned by John McClane, Karl informs his compatriots “AAAAAARGH! I want blood!” While Karl, like most Germans, would likely have been extremely efficient at his job, he became that much more deft with a Steyr AUG rifle with the added incentive of avenging said mangled brother. But Karl, unlike most Germans, had a mullet so strong that it could resist getting lynched by industrial chains, only to have it blown clean off by Carl Winslow. Never work with family.
The bulldog of Multi-National United, Kobus tromps through the ghettos of District 9, gleefully keeping the weak and disadvantaged underfoot while on the clock. His villainy reaches near-comical heights, akin to the treacherous cheese of an 80’s WWF antagonist, making him a perfect foil to the ebullient Wikus Van De Merwe. Despite keeping his cool in the line of duty, Koobus’ urge to bully Wikus is exactly what makes him lose his head.
Unlike many of the brutal hatchet men on this list, Kobayashi is adept at the hands-off approach in carrying out the misdoings of his benefactor, the notorious Keyser Söze. An evil precursor to the sharp-tongued Dr. King Schultz of Django Unchained, Kobayashi delivers unflinching speeches that intimidate hardasses into backing down and scratching their heads. Just try to pin down that accent: is he Pakistani? Japanese? Irish? As the man himself said, “one cannot be betrayed if one has no people.”