The Best Johns In Cinema
This week sees the release of John Carter, the Mars-based smash-em-up action picture from Pixar genius Andrew Stanton. To mark the fact that the film is about a guy called John, Ross McG runs through some of the best cinema characters to carry one of the most common names around. We’re being strict too – no Jonathans or Johnnys allowed! That will be another post…
Name: John Carter
Being a John in: John Carter (2012)
Arc of John: This John is a tough Earthling who suddenly finds himself getting his ass to Mars. If you feel as if you can ‘totally recall’ this premise from an earlier film, don’t worry. Instead of Arnie’s face melting and triple-breasted ladies, Disney gives us some guy running around with his top off breathing the air on the red planet. Oh well, buff John could be in a worse situation. He could be stuck in the actual film Red Planet. It sucked the air out of the atmosphere quicker than you can mumble, ‘Quaid… shut the reactor!’
Name: John Connor
Being a John in: Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
Arc of John: Come on, when we think of John Connor, none of us picture Christian Bale, never mind Nick Stahl. Cute little Eddie Furlong will always be the person with the fate of the world in his hands. Truth be told, his John Connor is a whiny little brat, but then so would you be if some guy had come back from the future just to sleaze over your ‘oul wan, help create you, only to tell you that you were the only person who could save Earth from Microsoft or IBM or something.
Name: John McClane
Being a John in: Die Hard (1988)
Arc of John: All he wanted was to go to the coast to have a few laughs. Instead he ends up getting blood all over his nice white vest. Welcome to the John party, pal.
Name: John Rambo
Being a John in: First Blood (1982)
Arc of John: In the most wanton act of bullying until Johnny Lawrence came along to make Daniel Larusso’s life hell two years later, Brian Dennehy’s sheriff treats poor old John Rambo like absolute dirt for absolutely no reason. In return, mild-mannered John beats up helicopters with his bare hands.
Name: John Hammond
Being a John in: Jurassic Park (1993)
Arc of John: Poor John Hammond. He brings all these scientists down to defend him against some characters and the only one on his side is the blood-sucking lawyer. Just don’t get him started on sexism in survival situations.
Name: John Merrick
Being a John in: The Elephant Man (1980)
Arc of John: Not only does this John have to deal with the cruel discrimination dished out to him by Victorian society in David Lynch’s tremendous film, he has to put up with the fact his name isn’t actually ‘John’ at all. The real Merrick’s first name was actually Joseph. It takes a John though to portray him brilliantly here, however, John Hurt the unlucky Oscar loser who gave the performance of his life the same year De Niro did his La Motta.
Name: John Anderton
Being a John in: Minority Report (2002)
Arc of John: Tom Cruise just doesn’t look like a ‘John’, does he? But then De Niro (him again) is the most unlikely ‘Neil’ in cinema history – thanks, Heat. For this John, the eyes have it. Or don’t have it, as he switches them for someone else’s after he gets framed for a crime he hasn’t yet committed. Because this John is Tom Cruise, he likes running. A lot.
Name: John Shaft
Being a John in: Shaft (1971)
Arc of John: They say this cat John is a bad motha… well, he is in the original, where Richard Roundtree makes him look cool just by walking down a street. In the remake, SAMUEL L JACKSON!! just makes him shout very loud.
Being a John in: Wall-E (2008)
Arc of John: He goes from red. To blue. Then back to red. Okay, so changing your tracksuit colour isn’t much of an arc, but we love this rather round John as much as he loves Wall-E. He’s voiced by a John too, Ratzenberger.
Name: John Book
Being a John in: Witness (1985)
Arc of John: Goes from being a tough cop who thinks the Amish are weirdos but thinks Kelly McGillis is hot to becoming a tough cop who learns to adapt to the Amish way of life while still thinking Kelly McGillis is hot. Also good at fixing cars and dancing. A woman’s John if ever there was one. Great surname too.
Name: John Horatio Malkovich
Being a John in: Being John Malkovich (1999)
Arc of John: Goes from unknowingly letting people delve inside his own head to delving inside his own head himself. If only he had delved inside his own head and told himself not to sign on for Mutant Chronicles. Or Transformers 3. Malkovich’s real middle name is Gavin.
Name: John Lillison
Being a John in: The Man With Two Brains (1983)
Arc of John: Doesn’t actually physically appear in Steve Martin’s finest hour and a half, just has some of his poetry read out at the bedside of Kathleen Turner’s ‘scum queen’. And as the finest one-armed poet England has ever produced, that is some poetry…
Name: Captain John Miller
Being a John in: Saving Private Ryan (1998)
Arc of John: Goes in to World War II to save some guy he doesn’t know. Guy he doesn’t know is really ungrateful. Not the smartest John in the box, but probably the most noble.
Name: John Constantine
Being a John in: Constantine (2005)
Arc of John: This John goes through changes before he even gets to the screen, morphing from hell-bothering, blond-haired Brit to the guy from Bill And Ted’s Bogus Journey. Say what you like though about Keanu Reeves, he is a great John Constantine. And Constantine is a great film. A great underrated gem.
Name: Little John
Being a John in: Robin Hood (1973)
Arc of John: Most. Fun. John. Ever. Definitely the cuddliest. Okay, so he’s just Baloo in a green shirt, but that just makes him all the more endearing. Brill singer too.
Name: John Matrix
Being a John in: Commando (1985)
Arc of John: Not so much an arc as an excuse to quip and scythe his way through gazillions of disposable henchmen, John Matrix could be the toughest movie John around. With the ability to outwit McClane and the firepower to outgun Rambo, he’s one John you wouldn’t mind letting off some steam with.
WHO IS YOUR FAVOURITE CINEMATIC JOHN?