Marsellus Wallace – Pulp Fiction
Outside of one extremely unfortunate incident in a pawnshop, Marsellus Wallace lives the good life. With loyal henchmen at his side, this crime boss rules Los Angeles with an iron fist, freely taking away “L.A. Privileges” from anyone he wishes. Commanding the respect and fear of anyone who encounters him, Marsellus is basically a god amongst men. Even the cool and laid back Vincent Vega is petrified by what he’s capable of.
We don’t get to see much of Marsellus’ life in the actual film, but there are enough glimpses for us to want to be like him. Not only does he get to lounge poolside while hit men do his dirty work, Marsellus is close to the ultimate “Get Out of Jail Free” card – The Wolf, who is handy in any sticky situation.
Unlike the other entries on our list, we never see if there is a fall for Marsellus (though his abuse during “The Gold Watch” is nothing to sneer at), meaning that he very well could have spent the rest of his years living large, being untouchable, and going medieval on his enemies.
Tony Montana – Scarface
In one of the finest rags-to-riches stories told on film, Cuban immigrant Tony Montana arrives to the States with nothing and ultimately becomes one of the premier drug kingpins. Played with gusto by Al Pacino, Tony symbolizes the American dream and what it’s like to be on the top of the world – something we would all aspire to do.
Pushing it to the limit, he acquires a lifestyle of fame and fortune by gradually building a multi-million dollar drug empire. Living in a mansion, owning a pet tiger, marrying the woman of his dreams, and continually bringing in profits, Tony feels invincible as the luxuries keep piling up. The world is his.
Of course, Scarface also illustrates the downsides to being in Tony’s situation. In the film’s tumultuous third act, his life crumbles around him via feelings of paranoia, deteriorating relationships with those closest to him, and mountains of cocaine. Like Goodfellas, the film operates as a cautionary tale to anyone who may find the life of a criminal appealing. However, since we’ve seen Tony’s exploits, we would know what pitfalls to avoid and would try to keep the charmed life going as long as we could.
They don’t have wizards, dragons, or Hobbits, but the entries in the crime genre work as their own fantasy films. They give viewers a peek into a whole new world and allow them to live vicariously through characters that do truly despicable things. One of the reasons why these films are so popular is because they let us dive into our imaginations and live out our craziest dreams while we still operate as law-abiding citizens in the real world. Jordan Belfort won’t be the last time we see an example of this in the movies.
Of course, our list is not meant to be all-inclusive, so be sure to name the criminals you would like to live like in the comments below. Whether it’s the prosperous business of American Gangster’s Frank Lucas or the hyper-intelligence of Professor Moriarty, there are a number of lifestyles to choose from.
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The Wolf of Wall Street is in theaters December 25.