By Gen Terblanche19 September 2023
Fire Country: bad guys to the rescue in 6 series and movies
In a classic action scene, the villain will have the hero at their mercy, and they’ll say something like, “We’re not so different, you and I.” Like love and hate, it seems there’s a fine line between being the bad guy, and saving the day. It might be a simple matter of pricking your enemies … or your battles. The new Jerry Bruckheimer series Fire Country delivers the ultimate force of terror and destruction, fire.
And when you’re surrounded by walls of flame, do you really care that the guy striding in to save you is part of the Edgewater inmate firefighter crew? Even if he’s a serial killer who puts people in pies, you’re going to pick his frying pan later over the fire now.
Fire Country is just one of many stories focused on testing the idea of criminal reform and second chances, rather than just punishment in prison. Have a look through our top six sizzlers and see which unconventional heroes you’d be most relieved to see…
A series about a team of prisoners fighting deadly wildfires from producer Jerry Bruckheimer (Top Gun: Maverick)? We’re getting enough heat from that idea to pop our popcorn! Series co-creator Max Thieriot stars as prisoner Bode Donovan, who signs on as a volunteer to help the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection combat wildfires in his old Northern California hometown (based on a real-life prison firefighting programme). In exchange for putting his life on the line and serving the community, he’ll get years chopped off his sentence. But as well as risking a death sentence every time he goes out, he’ll also have to fight the reputation he left behind him and rebuild all those bridges he burned…metaphorically.
John Cena’s performance as blindly patriotic assassin Christopher Smith/Pacemaker was one of the best things about The DC movie The Suicide Squad (2021), in which super-powered convicts agreed to go on a do-or-die mission under the command of intelligence officer Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) in exchange for lighter sentences. In this spinoff series, creator-director James Gunn brings Peacemaker back on a new set of suicide missions with a new crew of barely controlled, mismatched egomaniacs. Given a choice between falling prey to butterfly-like aliens or putting up with the collateral and property damage of being rescued by this bunch, well, having your mind and body taken over by something with too many legs is just icky. Time to review that insurance policy.
In one of the most epic action series ever made, a diamond thief who’s just finished serving a 15-year sentence (played by Antony Starr) steals the identity of Lucas Hood, the recently murdered sheriff of a Pennsylvania small town named Banshee. “Lucas” plays fast and loose with the law at first, as he hunts down his ex-partner in crime, his boss’s daughter Ana, who’s now living in Banshee under the alias Carrie after she escaped with the diamonds and double-crossed Lucas and her dad, Rabbit (Ben Cross). But his position as lawman sets Lucas up against Banshee’s ex-Amish crime lord Kai Proctor (Ulrich Thomsen), and puts him on a reluctant mission to clean up the town, just to save his own skin. And with his lifelong training in the criminal underworld, he knows how to hit the bad guys where it hurts.
In this animated adventure comedy, Mr Wolf (Sam Rockwell), Mr Snake (Marc Maron), Mr Piranha (Anthony Ramos), Mr Shark (Craig Robinson), and Ms Tarantula (Awkwafina) are a notorious heist crew. When they’re captured, Mr Wolf persuades state governor Diane Foxington (Zazie Beetz) to give them a chance to reform, while secretly plotting a new heist. It’s set to be the crime of the century, until Mr Wolf finds out how great being good feels, and decides to reform for real. Now if only he could persuade the rest of the gang to push back against their public image as nature’s most villainous creatures. It turns out that public image covers a host of sins, and one fuzzy little pet is the real envious mastermind who needs to be unmasked.
Can downtrodden reporter Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) convince an evil alien parasite named Venom to turn on its own kind and instead protect the people of Earth? Just give him time. When Venom has to share Eddie’s body to accomplish his mission of world domination, he reluctantly becomes attuned to his host’s heroic nature. The match between good but weak human and evil but strong alien is out of this world, as sharing his body with Venom gives Eddie superpowers, allowing him to strike out for justice as a vigilante, instead of just writing about it. But Venom’s methods don’t always align with Eddie’s morals, leading to loads of bickering between the two. You might want to get rid of a bad guy, but would you literally bite his head off? The saga continues in the spin-off, Venom: Let There Be Carnage, in which series killer Cletus Cassidy (Woody Harrison) becomes host to his own symbiote named Carnage.
In one of the all-time action classics, master thief Anthony Fait (rapper DMX) and his crew join forces with Taiwanese Intelligence agent Su (Jet Li, Romeo Must Die) to steal back a bag of black diamonds, which turn out to be a highly sought after key for making low cost weapons of mass destruction. With criminal mastermind Ling (Marc Dacascos) pulling strings from behind bars as a common enemy, Fait and Su become a Rush-Hour style buddy duo as they work together using their highly trained skills in different fields to steal back the diamonds, and save Fait’s young daughter from her kidnappers in the process. Everything in this world is bigger, badder and more likely to go boom, with enough stunts to make you want to stick around in case these two ever take on another mission.
Now we just need to have a little chat about the ethics of exploiting prisoners to perform dangerous, poorly paid labour…
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