14. Django Unchained
The first, but not the last, Quentin Tarantino movie on this list is about a freed slave, Django (Jamie Foxx), who happens upon Calvin Candie, the slave owner (Leonardo DiCaprio) that owns his wife (Kerry Washington). With the help of an enlightened Bavarian bounty hunter (Christoph Waltz), Django seeks his revenge against Candie.
Tarantino tackles the horror of slavery in this revisionist Western, which (like Inglourious Basterds before it) provides some emotional catharsis in allowing its characters to right a historical wrong. The revenge here is taken in response to slavery itself, which ripped Africans from the homelands, from their cultures, and transplanted them onto the plantations of the deep South. This is an act of violence that still has reverberations today, and yet, the film also works as a revenge story, ending in a redemptive, emotionally rewarding bloodbath that would make Sam Peckinpah blush.
13. Cape Fear
While most of the films on this list ask us to side with the avenger, Cape Fear asks what we would do if somebody decides to seek vengeance against us. In this 1962 J. Lee Thompson film, Robert Mitchum plays rapist Max Cady (Robert Mitchum), who tracks down Sam Boyden (Moby Dick star Gregory Peck), a lawyer who testified against him in court.
Boyden is a family man with a teenage daughter to protect, and as Cady stalks and harasses his family, the situation gets more and more tense. Bowden finds himself stymied every time he tries to use the law to push Cady away from his family. Like many revenge movies, Cape Fear asks uncomfortable questions about the impersonal rule of law in the face of extremely personal acts of violence, but it asks these questions from the perspective of the law-abiding citizen, rather than the avenger. Martin Scorsese memorably remade the film in 1991 with Nick Nolte and Robert De Niro playing the Peck and Mitchum roles.
FROM AROUND THE WEB