Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street hits Blu-Ray/DVD this week and it’s one of the few movies that I can say I’m a slightly worse person for watching. Many critics claim that it’s a return-to-form for the controversial director, whereas a decent percentage of us think of it as a vapid, redundant work of debauchery.
Leonardo DiCaprio’s portrayal as real-life conman Jordan Belfort was great, not oscar-winning, but still great. Throughout the movie, you get to see his no-expense-spared lifestyle that largely consists of sex and drugs. I found it impossible to root for this terrible human being that I never once cared for. Honestly, he could have been shot in the face and I’d just be satisfied with the ending.
While many amoral characters have been mistakenly called anti-heroes, that description is pretty far off. There’s an anti-hero and an ANTI-hero. Some movies, like Wolf of Wall Street, never ask us to like the main character. If anything, we’re supposed to sit for two hours and watch a protagonist that is pretty despicable. The following are five of the most unlikable protagonists in film and characters that are impossible to support. In any other movie, the following characters would be the villain.
5 – Jake La Motta (Raging Bull)
Martin Scorsese has a thing for anti-heroic or just terrible lead characters. Almost anyone from his movies could fit on this list from Henry Hill in Goodfellas to Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver. However, besides Belfort, the character that begs you to hate him is Jake La Motta. Raging Bull shows the progression of the promising young boxer from the beginning of his career to his less-than-flattering end. Robert De Niro plays the character in such a way that you never once like him, but you cannot help but watch him destroy his life. He is willing to beat his brother nearly to death because of jealousy. He also has a penchant for adultery and spousal abuse. If you haven’t seen this movie, you’re missing out on seeing the days when De Niro proved that he was one of the most talented actors of all time.
4 – Mavis Gary (Young Adult)
Charlize Theron’s performance as young adult fiction author, Mavis Gary is fascinating. And by that, I mean she is one of the worst movie characters in recent years. Director Jason Reitman followed likable hits like Juno and Up in the Air with this movie that was nearly impossible to relate to. Mavis Gary may not be guilty of murder, but she might as well be due to how much you will hate her. In the movie, she shows up to her hometown, which she thinks she’s far superior to, with the intent to steal back her high school boyfriend. Said ex-boyfriend is now married and his wife is expecting. The movie feels pointless because you never want Mavis to win in the end. Even when you think she’s about to realize how terrible a person she actually is and make the steps to redemption, she talks to a character who tells her not to change and that she actually is far better than the blue collar life she left behind. Basically, Mavis doesn’t learn a lesson. If anything, she’ll get even more terrible as time goes on.
3 – Anakin Skywalker (Star Wars Prequels)
This should really be number one. We know that when Anakin grows up, he will create the Death Star, which has the ability to incinerate entire planets. But even as a kid, he had inherent evil inside. He was so terrible, that he managed to be the most hated character in a universe where Jar Jar Binks existed. The more I think about it, the more I think that George Lucas had a grand plan to never allow you to like or relate to young Anakin, just so that it wouldn’t be so heartbreaking when he goes to the dark side. If you look at it that way, Jake Lloyd was purposely playing Hannibal Lecter as a child and Hayden Christensen was trying to channel Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates. If you ever feel like forgiving Anakin, just remember the younglings. RIP younglings.
2 – Alex DeLarge (A Clockwork Orange)
Alex DeLarge is an evil person. Somehow this villain is given center stage as we follow he and his cronies as they commit terrible and unforgivable crimes. Even when he is tested/tortured to cure his psychopathic ways, you still can’t feel any pity for him. Unfortunate things keep happening to Alex and you hope that he gets his just rewards. At the end of the movie, we are told that Alex physically can’t commit any more evil, all the while Malcolm McDowell essentially winks at the camera implying that he is capable of more evil. In essence, he doesn’t change. In the book, the real ending shows that he eventually grows out of being a psychopath killer.
1 – Daniel Plainview (There Will Be Blood)
I remember the first time I watched There Will Be Blood. I saw Daniel Day Lewis’s performance as Daniel Plainview and kept waiting for the point when I’d start to care for the character. That moment never happened. At no point are Plainview’s intentions unclear. It is debatable that he could be seen an an evil greedy man or just a brilliant capitalist with a temper. Director Paul Thomas Anderson wanted you to hate Plainview, but also see him as more sympathetic upon repeat viewings. It’s hard to say whether he was a product of the harsh environment or that men like him created those environments. Everyone knows the catch phrase of “I’ll drink your milkshake!” But the line that summed up his apathy towards family and human connection was uttered when he cast out his adopted son. He described finding the unwanted boy by screaming “Bastard in a basket!”