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40 Years, 40 Essential Man Movies You Must See

Categories Lifestyle

How many of these definitively masculine movies have you seen?

June 8 marks the 40th anniversary of the Australian release of Taxi Driver, the Martin Scorsese-directed NYC psychodrama that gave Robert De Niro one of his signature roles. To celebrate, we’re counting down the other Top 40 must-see man movies made since 1976. Our definition’s pretty simple: they’re flicks that guys love even if their girls roll their eyes. Some are classics, some are lesser known. Here’s the first of our four-part series…

40. Shoot ‘Em Up (2007)
This tongue-in-cheek action flick delivers what the title says: it’s a wild bullet-ridden ride as Clive Owen’s tough guy with a gun has to save Monica Belluci’s “milk maid” prostitute from Paul Giamatti’s evil assassin. Dripping with sarcasm and style, Shoot ‘Em Up is crazily kinetic and plays like a Warner Bros. cartoon on meth.

39. Repo Man (1984)
Emilio Estevez stars as an LA punk who gets mixed up in the car repossession business with Harry Dean Stanton’s grizzled old bastard. Eminently quotable, Repo Man also has a cracking soundtrack, featuring Iggy Pop singing the title song, along with contributions from Fear and The Circle Jerks.

38. Lone Survivor (2013)
Mark Wahlberg stars with Taylor Kitsch and Ben Foster in this gripping true story about Navy SEALS chased by approximately half the Taliban during an op gone wrong in Afghanistan. Director Peter Berg does the action so well you’ll be ducking for cover on your couch.

37. Escape From New York (1981)
Kurt Russell kicks all sort of arse as Snake Plissken, soldier-turned-criminal who has to rescue Donald Pleasance’s weasel-like US president from the maximum security prison that is the futuristic walled-off Manhattan (of 1997).

36. The Boondock Saints (1999)
Before he was a stringy-haired zombie killer on The Walking Dead, Norman Reedus teamed up with Sean Patrick Flanery to play vigilante brothers ridding Boston of organised crime. Intensely violent, wildly funny and eye-poppingly stylish, this became an instant cult hit, not least for its wicked supporting work from Willem Dafoe as a cross-dressing FBI agent and Billy Connolly as an old hitman with a secret connection to our Irish-American antiheroes.

35. The Grey (2011)
Liam Neeson is on superb form as an Alaskan oil-rig worker who has to lead his mates to safety when their plane crashes in the snowbound wilderness and they’re stalked by wolves. The Grey is incredibly tense, intellectual searching and relentlessly brutal in its depiction of man against nature—and human nature. Consider it a crash course in macho existentialism.

34. Deadpool (2016)
We’ve seen so many Marvel movies run to the same family-friendly formula that is was a delight to see Ryan Reynolds subvert all expectations in this kinky, foul-mouthed and insanely violent comic-book adaptation. He’s the former special-ops soldier on a kill-crazy rampage to find the man who disfigured and mutated him. You won’t find a smarter-arsed flick that’s also made a squabillion dollars at the box office.

33. Gran Torino (2008)
Clint Eastwood takes his tough-guy act in a new direction in this flick that has him as a grizzled old racist who reluctantly helps his young Asian neighbour. Just when you think you know where this is headed, it sucker punches you big time.

32. The Departed (2005)
Martin Scorsese’s epic story of an undercover cop and crim is among the best films he’s ever made. Leonardo Di Caprio is the deep-cover lawman embedded with Jack Nicholson’s Boston mafia crew, while Matt Damon turns on his charm in chilling fashion as his opposite number: the mob soldier wearing the blue uniform to do the devil’s work. There’s also awesome support work from Mark Wahlberg and Martin Sheen.

31. Beverly Hills Cop (1984)
Eddie Murphy is at his fastest, most frantic and foul-mouthed in this buddy cop gem, which pairs him with whiter-than-white comic Judge Reinhold. Murphy is Axel Foley, Detroit wise-arse detective, who lands in fancy-pants Beverly Hills and proceeds to turn the joint upside down in his pursuit of the crims who murdered his best mate. Side-splittingly funny and crunchingly violent, it also boasts one of the most indelible themes in Harold Faltermeyer’s electro-classic Axel F.

30. Casino Royale (2006)
No matter that SPECTRE and Quantum of Solace weren’t all that great because we’ll always have Daniel Craig’s killer reboot of the Bond franchise Casino Royale. He took 007 to new gritty places, and the film also gave us a superbly sexy Bond girl in Eva Green’s Vesper Lyn. Skyfall is also a must-see (but we’re only going to be counting the best man-movie from each franchise).

Tomorrow, we count down 29-20…