This Friday marks the release of the, in theory, romantic comedy The Bounty Hunter, starring Jennifer Aniston as the bounty to Gerard Butler’s hunter. And while I’m sure there will be plenty of zany comedic antics and misunderstandings that bring about hi-lar-i-ous laughs when Butler’s character is tasked to track down and bring in his ex-wife, I think we can all agree on one thing: there are far cooler big screen bounty hunters to spend time with than a softened up version of Leonidis.
Oh, and in case it’s not immediately apparent, I’m playing kind of fast and loose with the definition of a “bounty hunter”, here.
Quint – Jaws
If this were a courtroom, all I’d have to submit as exhibit A for Quint being one of the coolest bounty hunters film has ever known would be his opening dialog:
“I value my neck a lot more than three thousand bucks, chief. I’ll find him for three, but I’ll catch him, and kill him, for ten. But you’ve gotta make up your minds. If you want to stay alive, then ante up. If you want to play it cheap, be on welfare the whole winter. I don’t want no volunteers, I don’t want no mates, there’s just too many captains on this island. Ten thousand dollars for me by myself. For that you get the head, the tail, the whole damn thing.”
Not only is he a take-no-shit badass, but Quint is a ruthless, no-negotiations bounty hunter, too. Okay, so by the end of the film he isn’t exactly the best bounty hunter around considering his quarry kind of, you know, eats him, but hey, at least he still goes down that shark’s gullet with true grit.
Boba Fett – Star Wars
There’s no reason to be withholding here, who among us hasn’t wanted to be Boba Fetta at some point in their life? It’s strange though, the only reason he’s so awesome in nerdy eyes everywhere is because he had a sweet set of armor and flew around on a jetpack. He never really did anything on screen to earn his reputation as the galaxies most dangerous bounty hunter (capturing Han Solo seemed pretty easy) and he eventually is defeated by the now-blind man he was hunting, but his reputation always proceeded him nonetheless; for that alone, the Fett will always get a raised glass and a tip of the hat from me. Plus I hear he drives a sweet ‘vette.
Deckard – Blade Runner
It can’t all be fun and games though. Bounty hunting is a serious business after all, and it doesn’t really get more serious than tracking down replicants. But, that’s why Deckard is a smooth mutha. People come to him, demanding his service, and all he has to do to deliver what they want is wander around a noir, cyberpunk future drinking whiskey and fighting robots. Plus, even though there are others on this list who don’t survive to the end of their respective films, the revelation at the end of Blade Runner (in most of Ridley Scott’s cuts, anyway) makes Deckard one of the most tragic heroes on the list.
Dr. Loomis – Halloween
What’s so great about Dr. Loomis in Halloween (Carpenter’s, not that awful pair of films from Rob Zombie) is that he doesn’t actually want to be a bounty hunter, it’s just that no one else will listen to him when he tells them exactly where an escaped mental patient is going to go, so he mans up, hops in a station wagon and goes hunting after the great white whale that is Michael Myers. And then when he finds him, what does he do? He pops several caps in him. Gotta love a professional whose ready to cut his mark loose if things get too far out of hand.
You know why I respect The Ghostbusters? Not because they rid this plane of existence of mischievous and malevolent poltergeists, but because at the end of the day they’re really just a group of entrepreaneurs. They saw a market segment that had no competing business, so they united together, moved in and set up shop. No one particularly likes them, but they’re the only game in town and so are, by default, the heroes. That’s what the American dream is all about, right?
Blondie – The Good, The Bad, the Ugly
Clint Eastwood isn’t playing a bounty hunter in TGTBTU so much as he is a con man, considering he starts out in league with his bounty, Tuco. But fake or not, he’s still a mean gunslinger who is always on the lookout for a way, easy or not, to make a bit of money. And even when he is playing out his fake bounty hunter role, he’s still going through the motions and shooting all those that get in his way for real.
The Good – The Good, The Bad, The Weird
It’s no secret that I am an undying fan of Ji-woon Kim’s eclectic South Korean riff on the classic tale of three men all hunting the same thing. I could go on and on about how outstanding the visuals and score are, but we’re not here to talk about the technical merits of the film, we’re here to talk about bounty hunters and to that end, The Good is one of my favorites. He never seems to break a sweat or lose his cool, but he’s always just around the corner, ready to get a drop on his mark in as stylish a way as possible.
Death – Final Destination
When I told some friends I was making this list and that I wanted to put the omnipresent, but never visible Death from Final Destination on it, they laughed at me. But screw that noise. No one else on this list has nearly as much fun hunting their bounty as Death does. No amount of protest or planning can escape him and he gets to turn the entire world into his own personal Rube Goldberg device. I know the last few movies have all sucked, but his unseen hand still makes him one of my favorite big screener bounty hunters.
The Predator – Predator
No where in the bounty hunting rule book (that I just made up) does it say that the hunter has to keep the bounty in one piece. Sometimes it’s best to bring back just the gleaming, polished skull of whatever catches your eye, and when that’s the case, who is cooler than the Predator? No one, that’s who. Though, now that I think about it, other Predators could be equally as cool. Unless they exist in Alien vs. Predator, in which case all their banked awesomeness is forfeit. But still, the original Predator is about as badass as bounty hunters come.
Anton Chigurh – No Country for Old Men
If you want your bounty hunters absolutely terrifying, though, Anton Chigurh is your man. He may not have a face like a crab from Hell and a shoulder-mounted tri-laser, but Javier Bardem plays Chigurh with such a wolf-in-wolves’-clothing attitude that you can’t help but cower every time he’s on screen. No amount of handcuffs or bullets can keep him apart from that which he is trying to track down and when he finds it his actions are bloody and remorseless. That’s the kind of consummate professionalism I admire.