The Top 10 Psychopathic Action Film Villains

Psychopaths are a scary bunch. They're all around us, and constitute anywhere from 1% - 4% of the population. Awhile back, I wrote an article about the top psychopathic film characters in war films; as you might imagine, they were responsible for a lot of innocent casualties on the battlefield. But now, it's time to write about the top psychopathic action film villains. This list was not just thrown together randomly, but rather is the result of much deliberation and analysis. This is a definitive list, as defined by an action film expert!

Note: Psychopathy is defined by a pure lack of empathy, and is not the same as psychosis. A person can be psychotic, which merely means to not have a decent grasp of reality, and not be a psychopath. Consequently, crazy characters (like Annie Wilkes in Misery) or robots (like Arnold in the original Terminator) are not included on this list - this list is just heartless cruel, hateful, psychopaths!

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Anton Chigurh (No Country for Old Men)

Anton Chigurh stole the show in No County For Old Men, a drug cartel enforcer, he never gets angry or excited - he's always cool and detached and collected - a real-life psychopath!  What gives Chigurh's scenes tension is that he seems to look at the human race as an alien observer, confused by our emotional frailties.  He also has no qualms about killing anyone - whether it's someone he's targeting, or a random stranger on the street that gets in his way.  This is one cruel man and film characters would be best to get out of his way should they want to live!

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Begbie (Trainspotting)

Begbie is the unwanted friend that people are too afraid of telling to leave.  Sure, he's actually fun sometimes, after he's had a few pints, he's laughing, making jokes - he even acts downright friendly sometimes.  Until, that is, someone makes a joke that Begbie immediately assumes is about him (it's not), and he switches from friendly affection to psychopathic menace in 0.003 seconds.  Now he's grabbing a beer bottle, breaking it in half on the bar top, and trying to plunge it into your friend's throat.

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Alex DeLarge (A Clockwork Orange)

In Kubrick's dystopian future drama, Alex is part of a gang of hooligans that run rampant over future London, enjoying themselves as they engage in a bit of the "ol' ultra-violence," which includes rape, murder, and assault.  One of cinema's more frightening characters in the last half century.

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Amon Goethe (Schindler's List)

Well, of course, he's a Nazi. In Spielberg's Schindler's List, he's the commandant of a concentration camp, which he is able to watch over from the balcony off of his bedroom. A balcony from which he grabs his sniper rifle and randomly shoots at the people below, killing a number of them before he casually yawns, scratches himself, and slouches inside for breakfast. No big deal. 

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Mr. Blonde (Reservoir Dogs)

When a heist goes wrong, leave it to Mr. Blonde to kidnap a cop in the trunk of his car. A cop that he brings back to their hideout and patiently waits for everyone to leave so that he can torture the cop, which includes cutting off his ear, and then pouring gasoline on him and burning him alive. Because...well, because he can. For Mr. Blonde torture is just an amusing side activity. 

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Colonel Hans Lada

A self-described Jew hunter, Colonel Hans Lada is a special form of cruel as he takes great pleasure in drawing out the moment of the kill, making the moment last as long as he can; it's quite obvious he gets enjoyment out of extending these moments.  As a psychopath, his attraction to the Nazi party is quite obvious.

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Alonzo Harris (Training Day)

Denzel Washington's turn as Alonzo Harris is full of manic hyper energy, as his character effortlessly floats between two identities: That of a crack team police officer and then a bad guy, stealing and selling drugs. Like a true psychopath, Alonzo manipulates everyone in his life, whether it's his new partner, long-time teammates, or even his loved ones. With his police badge protecting his displays of violence, this is one dirty cop you don't want pulling you over.

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Catherine Tremell

Sharon Stone's Catherine Tremell is beautiful, rich, and brilliant.  And the fact that she's a psychopath makes her all the more dangerous.  Of course, she has no problem attracting men, which makes it all the more easier to leave a trail of dead lovers in her wake.

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Buffalo Bill (Silence of the Lambs)

Silence of the Lambs is chock full of psychopaths, and Dr. Hannibal Lecter probably should have made the list but - here's the thing - Dr. Lecter is an intelligent, and thoughtful guy - even if he is a killer cannibal.  And one supposes that they might be able to reason with Dr. Lecter.  Not so Buffalo Bill, the serial killer that Dr. Lecter helps track down.  Buffalo Bill is the epitome of creepy, attempting to make a woman's suit out of the skin of dead women he's killed.  Even looking at his photo creeps me out.

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Tommy Devito (Goodfellas)

Like Begbie in Transporting, Tommy is another character who's fun to be around, until he suddenly gets excited and something sparks his interest.  Tommy has a ridiculously short fuse and most frightening of all is that no one knows what will ignite a temper tantrum from him - an innocently intended off-hand comment, a joke, an opinion.  And like Begbie, Tommy cannot stand feeling disrespected, and he corrects instances of disrespect with a revolver to the face.