Last summer wasn’t exactly a banner season for villains. There were no Hannibal Lecters, no terrorists stalking Bruce Willis. Instead, we got aliens, funnel clouds, and a sadistic Jim Carrey. The good news is, summer ’97 is packed with really good baddies. Here’s a sneak peek:
JAMES WOODS (Hercules) Well, okay, his voice. Woods hams it up as Hades, ruler of the underworld. Along with his sidekicks, Pain and Panic, he conspires to keep Herc’s hands full while toppling Zeus & Co. from Mount Olympus.
GARY OLDMAN (The Fifth Element and Air Force One) Mr. Serious Actor is this summer’s psycho for hire. In The Fifth Element he’s a futuristic fiend who goes balding head to balding head with Bruce Willis. In Air Force One he plays a Russian terrorist who slaps around President Harrison Ford. Seems Oldman has gone from Sid Vicious to just vicious.
JOHN MALKOVICH (Con Air) No stranger to the role of whacked-out bad guy, Malkovich leads a posse of dangerous felons on a daring mid-flight prison break. Looking like Mr. Clean with attitude, he takes on recently paroled family man Nicolas Cage at 30,000 feet and heads straight for a crash course on the Vegas strip.
MICHAEL KEATON (Desperate Measures) Looking not unlike Michael Douglas’ nerd vigilante in Falling Down, Keaton puts geek glasses on his convicted mass murderer and sees his chance to escape when he’s recruited to donate bone marrow for a sick little boy.
ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER & UMA THURMAN (Batman & Robin) He’s the chrome-domed cold-weather aficionado Mr. Freeze. She’s Poison Ivy, a lethally lipsticked, green-thumbed twist on Ginger Grant. How, we ask, will Chris O’Donnell get out of this one?
AARON ECKHART (In the Company of Men) In this emotionally grueling Sundance-winning indie, newcomer Eckhart is the baddest cat of all — a scheming mid-level corporate type who devises a plan in which he and a buddy will ”compete” for the affections of a hearing-impaired coworker, woo her, and dump her.
WILLEM DAFOE (Speed 2: Cruise Control) Dafoe is a disgruntled computer programming genius who plays cat and mouse with hapless vacationers Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves replacement Jason Patric. The Love Boat this ain’t.
JULIA ROBERTS (My Best Friend’s Wedding) Hollywood’s perennial good girl goes against type, scheming to sabotage best pal (and long-simmering love object) Dermot Mulroney’s nuptials. Okay, she doesn’t hack anyone up or plant a bomb in the bouquet, but she does utter the line ”I’m the bad guy.” How refreshingly up-front.