Happy Father's Day!
Being a dad is tough, but being a movie dad is really tough. The chances that your offspring are going to be put in mortal peril by terrorists or mercenaries or sex traffickers are much, much higher than they would be in real life.
Luckily, movie dads tend to have the confidence, courage and hand-to-hand combat skills required to rescue their children when the bad guys strike.
In honor of Father's Day, we want you to help us figure out the baddest badass of a dad in recent film history. Below are the nominees, plus the details of their extreme feats of parenting. At the bottom, take part in our poll to help select movies' Most Badass Dad. hr class="grayBreak" /> Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson), 'Taken'
As retired CIA enforcer Bryan Mills is having a long-distance phone conversation with his daughter, she is kidnapped by sex traffickers.
The Dilemma: Mills needs to get to France and rescue his daughter within 96 hours, or else she will be sold into sex slavery and disappear forever.
The Badass Dad Solution: After quickly arranging a flight to Paris, Mills embarks on a systematic search for his daughter that involves him punching or kicking 18 people, stabbing two more and shooting 14 others. He also conducts a memorably torture-filled interrogation and makes verbal threats against the Eiffel Tower. Oh yeah, and he saves his daughter.
Badass Dad Quote: "If you let my daughter go now, that'll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don't, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you."
President James Marshall (Harrison Ford), 'Air Force One'
The president of the United States has his famous plane taken over by terrorists who want him to negotiate the release of their imprisoned leader.
The Dilemma: President James Marshall's wife and daughter were also on the plane, so at 30,000 feet, the leader of the free world has to practice international diplomacy while making sure his family -- whom the terrorists are holding hostage -- remains safe.
Badass Dad Solution: Although his advisers try to get him off the plane in an escape pod, Marshall tricks them and remains. Then he goes about methodically killing all six terrorists, often armed with only his bare hands. He also pilots the plane out of peril, saving his wife and daughter, maybe even the world.
Badass Dad Quote: "GET OFF MY PLANE!"
Benjamin Martin (Mel Gibson), 'The Patriot'
Mel Gibson has starred in a trio of movies in which he seeks vengeance for wrongs visited upon his children. We're going with the Revolutionary War flick 'The Patriot' because Gibson inflicts the highest body count.
The Dilemma: British soldiers have taken Benjamin Martin's oldest son and plan on executing him for being a spy. The Redcoats also shoot and kill Martin's second-oldest son in cold blood.
The Badass Dad Solution: Martin and two of his younger sons ambush the Redcoats holding his missing son and are able to free him after slaying 20 of his 21 captors with extreme prejudice. During the battle, Martin displays other-worldly skills with both his musket and hatchet.
Badass Dad Quote: "I'm a parent. I haven't got the luxury of principles."
John Quincy Archibald (Denzel Washington), 'John Q'
John Quincy Archibald's son Michael needs a heart transplant or he will die.
The Dilemma: The HMO that Archibald's employer just switched over to doesn't cover heart transplants, and Archibald can't raise the $250,000 required to get Michael on the donor list.
The Badass Dad Solution: Armed with a handgun, Archibald takes over the hospital where Michael is staying and demands that he be put on the donor list. A SWAT team sniper tries to put an end to the standoff, but Michael takes a bullet, then beats the sniper up. Finally, he tells hospital staff he will shoot himself so they can transfer his heart to his son. Luckily, it doesn't come to that.
Badass Dad Quote: "I am not going to bury my son, my son is going to bury me!"
John Matrix (Arnold Schwarzenegger), 'Commando'
Retired special forces operative John Matrix is captured by agents of a Central American rebel leader who wants Matrix to perform an assassination for him
The Dilemma: The agents also capture Matrix's daughter as leverage.
The Badass Dad Solution: Matrix frees himself, then searches for and finds his daughter. Along the way he uses his fists and feet to take on an entire squadron of mall cops; uses an assault rifle, rocket launcher and other small arms to defeat a medium-size private army of highly trained mercenaries; and finally uses a stray steam pipe to deliver a death blow to the mercenary leader.
Badass Dad Quote: "Remember when I said that I'd kill you last? I LIIIIIEEED!"
Vader is certainly a badass, with his foreboding breathing, flowing black cape, and intergalactic reputation as a stone cold killer. And he is certainly a father, even though he spends much of his Star Wars trilogy screen time either trying to kill his children or convert them to evil.
The Dilemma: Vader's boss, Emperor Palpatine, is slowly and painfully killing Vader's estranged son Luke Skywalker, who begs his father to help him.
The Badass Dad Solution: In a surprise attack, Vader picks up Palpatine and tosses him into the Death Star's reactor shaft, killing Palpatine and saving Luke's life.
Badass Dad Quote: "Perhaps you think you are being treated unfairly?"
John McClane (Bruce Willis), 'Live Free or Die Hard'
Once again, grizzled cop John McClane finds himself facing off against a sophisticated band of miscreants hell-bent on mayhem. Foolishly, the bad guys kidnap McClane's estranged daughter.
The Dilemma: Cyber-terrorists are holding his daughter hostage in an attempt to control McClane.
Badass Dad Solution: Yes, there is a bunch of henchmen-killing and snappy catch phrases, but McClane would likely do that even if his progeny weren't at risk. However, he does step it up a notch in the end, saving his daughter from her impending execution by nimbly directing a gun that was pointed at him by one of her captors in a way that the bullet goes through McClane's own shoulder and then kills the bad guy.
Badass Dad Quote: "You know what you get for being a hero? Nothin'. You get shot at. You get a little pat on the back, blah blah blah, attaboy. You get divorced. Your wife can't remember your last name. Your kids don't want to talk to you ..."
Big Chris (Vinnie Jones), 'Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels'
The only thing mob muscle-man Big Chris cares about more than settling outstanding debts is his son Little Chris, whom he takes along with him on jobs.
The Dilemma: While Big Chris was involved in some negations, a low-level thief has taken Little Chris hostage by knife-point inside Big Chris's car, of all places.
The Badass Dad Solution: Big Chris calmly thinks of a reason to drive the car, then strategically crashes it which allows him to separate the thief from his son. Then Big Chris viciously bludgeons the poor-decision-maker to death with the car door.
Badass Dad Quote: "Mind your language in front of the boy."