In the Jason Bourne movies, the hero runs and jumps and stabs and punches, yet somehow he rarely needs a bandage.
Sure, sometimes he takes a break after messily snuffing a bad guy. He retreats to a quiet room and is ministered to by a comely girl. But then he’s back on the streets with nary a visible scratch.
Other movies don’t treat the heroes so nicely, and the difference can be refreshing. It’s not that one expects the world of an adventure movie to resemble real life, but when the hero’s head is swaddled with bandages, his ability to continue chasing down the evil-doers and to triumph by the final real is that much more impressive.
Here’s a list of my favorite injured movie heroes.
5. XXXX in Layer Cake
I watched this movie only days ago and already it’s on my favorites lists. The unnamed protagonist played by Daniel Craig takes a couple of beatings in the movie, including one really massive one, and one is impressed he can even walk. Yet he manages to … well, I don’t want to spoil it for you. It’s enough to point out that he’s going to have a nasty scar above his eyebrow there, and he’s lucky to have that eye at all.
4. Rick Deckard in Blade Runner
He starts the movie a calm, clean-cut detective, and ends it grasping at the hand of a replicant for life. Along the way, Harrison Ford’s Deckard is beat up from all sides by everyone, including a scary Daryl Hannah.
3. The Narrator in Fight Club
At first, Ed Norton’s character relishes his cuts, bruises, and lost teeth. He brandishes them at his boss and co-workers as proof that he’s living outside the system. Later he isn’t so sure. Notice that Tyler Durden barely seems to bruise.
2. Harry Lockhart in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
The thief that Robert Downey Jr. plays in this hilarious post-modern pseudo-noir is not at all stoic about his injuries. But as much as he’d like to get out, he stays in.
1. Jake Gittes in Chinatown
Jack Nicholson’s Jake Gittes nearly loses his nose in a scene featuring a cameo appearance by the movie’s director, Roman Polanski. He fared better than Faye Dunawaye, who reportedly fought repeatedly with Polanski to the point where he pulled her hair. It’s not easy being a movie star.