Top 10 Lone Wolf Movie Characters

Lone Wolf SquareWhat makes for a memorable movie lone wolf – what are the defining cinematic characteristics?  Are they quiet, bitter, emotionless, focused or perhaps just plain mean?  The one thing they do all have in common is a lone wolf likes to work alone, embodies a sense of isolation and stays firmly in control by doing things their own way.  So while some favorites may not have made the list for one reason or another including the article namesake (Lone Wolf McQuade is cool but not top ten!), iconic turns (Charles Bronson’s Paul Kersey did have hope with each new film!) and characters fed up with the status quo (Falling Down’s mayhem minded D-Fens was trying to get home to his estranged family!), the below represents the essence the hard men – or women – who just love the idea of all things alone.  Anti-heroes, fed-up folks, burnt out warriors, revenge seeking psychos and strong women who outmuscle their male counterparts – love them or hate them, agree or disagree these are my….Top 10 Lone Wolf Movie Characters! (In no particular order!)

1. Snake Plissken – Escape From New York


If one character were ever the epitome of the solo spirit it would be Kurt Russell’s Snake Plissken.  As the unlikely hero of John Carpenter’s Escape From New York (not counting Escape From LA film fans – sorry!), Plissken was the apathetic tough guy men wanted to be and women just wanted – and the one-eyed bastard couldn’t have cared less.  Interested in nothing, refusing to pick sides and with a palpable distain of any and all authority, he represented someone who though of himself first and others never – call him Snake.


2. The Driver – The Driver

The driver

Quiet, cold and calculating, Ryan O’Neal’s unnamed character The Driver (the best work of his career!) in the film The Driver proved that it’s the quiet ones you have to watch out for.  An emotionless skilled driving machine that gets involved with others only when he has too, there’s a closed off look in his eye that seems to say do not disturb.  Working and living alone is not merely a rule – it’s what drives him.


3. Inspector Harry Callahan – Dirty Harry/Magnum Force/The Enforcer/Sudden Impact/The Dead Pool

Harry Callahan

While there are some romances in the life of San Francisco Inspector Harry Callahan over the span of five films, there’s just too much individual angst not to include his bitter character wares on this list.  (Even more than Clint Eastwood’s other iconic character – the wild west Man With No Name!)  A dedicated cop willing to break the rules, lose partners and live the life of a monk all in the name of justice, Dirty Harry gave up everything to get bad guys.  But for Harry even dating seemed futile – he was already married to the job.


4. Sergeant Rita Rose Vrataski – Edge of Tomorrow

Edge of Tomorrow

Yes, Emily Blunt’s no-nonsense Sergeant Rita Rose Vrataski did assist Tom Cruise’s ailing and bumbling blowhard Major William Cage in becoming a kick-ass solider, but before learning of the strategic war advantages she had no problem putting him in harms way by taking his battery pack and leaving him for dead. (Not to mention the many times she killed him just to reset the day!) Mean, lean and herself a true alien killing machine, the notorious Angel of Verdun may lead an army of men, but as an unapologetic warrior woman and lethal lady she simply stands alone.


5. Max Rockatansky – The Road Warrior

Road Warrior

More so in The Road Warrior than any other Mad Max installment, there’s an almost emotionless feel from lead character and former top Main Force Patrol cop Max Rockatansky.  Now devastated by the loss of his wife, child and fellow police buddies, Max is a man who just wants to drive.  Drive to forget, drive to keep moving, but most of all drive to get away from everyone and everything. His relationships are short lived, his interactions are to the point and all deeds are done in the service of the getting the almighty gas.  The open road may brandish many battles, but for Max the real war is always within.


6. Mélanie Prouvost – The Page Turner

The Page Turner

Proving that those who feel shunned, humiliated and wronged can still be slyly sophisticated, Déborah François’s revenge seeking piano page-turner Mélanie Prouvost is a young gal who has spent a ton of time alone.  Taking all her loneliness, isolation and failure out on fragile pianist Ariane Fouchécourt whom she feels is responsible for her troubles, Mélanie perfectly fakes all emotions and connections in the name of a little personal payback.  But beware, this beautiful outsider isn’t just a loner – she’s lethal.


7. Buddy Revell – Three O’Clock High

Three O'Clock High

The strong silent psychotic type, Richard Tyson’s hard-as-nails Buddy Revell is the kind of guy you don’t want to mess with.  A checkered past, an icy cold attitude and a strong aversion to being touched in any way, shape or form, Buddy may have the best reason for being alone more than any others on this list – everyone’s afraid of him.


8. James Cullen aka Driver – Faster


Void of emotion, guilt or even a moment’s hesitancy, the lead character of Faster is a man with a singular solo purpose –revenge.  On a focused post-jail journey to take down all involved in the cold-blooded murder of his brother, Dwayne Johnson’s Driver heads down a dark path of alienating everyone and everything in the name of vengeance.  A place of isolation not merely given – it’s earned.


9. Major Eden Sinclair – Doomsday


While there are admittedly a TON of similarities between Rhona Mitra’s badass military maven Major Eden Sinclair via Doomsday and former list selection Snake Plissken (one eye, anyone?!), there are just way too many individual character cools to not give her the nod here.  Chip on her shoulder, eagerness to throw down and the joy that comes with knowing you’re the toughest hombre in the room, the orphaned Sinclair obviously learned from years of solitary to live alone – and liked it.

10. Napoleon Wilson – Assault on Precinct 13

Assault 1

While charismatic, witty and somewhat heroic in a pinch, you get the feeling watching Darwin Joston’s Napoleon Wilson that he’s a guy who would rather be in a dark corner alone somewhere having a smoke.  The silent ringer inside the under siege police station in John Carpenter’s Assault on Precinct 13, Wilson is forced to help others to survive, citing a moral code as his reason for doing so, but it nevertheless leaves an interesting question.  Would Wilson go to war if his own life weren’t on the line?  Good or bad, Wilson’s lone mellow man nevertheless has moments.


I'm a passionate and opinionated film critic/movie journalist with over 20 years of experience in writing about film - now exclusively for WhySoBlu.com. Previous sites include nine years at Starpulse.com where I created Forgotten Friday Flick back in 2011, before that as Senior Entertainment Editor for The213.net and 213 Magazine, as well as a staff writer for JoBlo.com. My other love is doing cool events for the regular guy with my company Flicks For Fans alongside my friend, partner and Joblo.com writer James "Jimmy O" Oster. Check us out at www.Facebook.com/FlicksForFans.

4 Responses to “Top 10 Lone Wolf Movie Characters”

  1. Brian White

    I’m at the Alamo Drafthouse right now waiting for the press screening of Don’t Breathe to begin, but I’m doing cartwheels over your inclusion of Doomsday here. That’s actually the film that started this all for me and got me noticed on the web with a home made review I wrote of it and a website asking me hey do you want to write Blu-ray reviews. And now look at where we’re at! Plus I frickin love that movie too!!!!

  2. Jason Coleman

    Great minds think alike!

  3. Brandon Peters

    GREAT GREAT piece! I remember the Sunday afternoon on opening weekend that I was having lunch at Baja Fresh on Sunset (Back when it was open)…looking across the street as I was munching my burrito and thinking “Yeah, I’ll go see Doomsday after this”. I was curious about it, but sorta ho hummed my way over. Pretty much an empty auditorium…and then the film was a damn love letter to all these films I loved. When I left the theater i was JACKED and told everyone about it. Neil Marshall might be the most under the radar director we have nowadays (No one does effective, ‘feel it in your bones’ violence like him, NO ONE).

    As for the rest of the list, I like seeing The Driver mentioned. Big fan of that movie, we did an episode of Cult Cinema Cavalcade on it back in February. Such an underrated, straight no chaser kinda movie with some awesome car chases. OH and Drive owes so much to that movie. A surprising career best and “great” performance from Ryan O’Neal. Finally once, people were kinda done with him, he finally shows us what people saw in him in the first place. lol

    I’d write more, but just wanted to say I enjoyed this piece a lot!

  4. Jason Coleman

    Appreciate the words!