4 Tough Guy Movies With Surprising Amounts Of Heart

Baby Driver photo

4 Tough Guy Movies With Surprising Amounts Of Heart. By George Bate.

Movie genres have their cliches. Rom-coms have the will-they/won’t-they relationships, sci-fi has the neon spacesuits and in horror films, everywhere seems to be haunted. But tough guy movies (the action/crime thrillers where everything explodes on cue) are perhaps the worst offenders.

Audiences love an easy cliche, it makes us feel secure while we watch our comfort movies. But what happens when a genre flips the script? Sometimes, it can create a cinematic experience even better than we could expect.

An element that is notoriously missing from these tough guy movies is the heart, the emotion.

Where is the pain, the loss, the anguish? Where is the love that isn’t just reserved for an over sexualised damsel in distress?

These movies keep your adrenaline pumping but your heart warm and they are a must-watch for any tough guy fan.


Creed was the sequel to the Rocky franchise that no-one asked for but everyone loved. The classic boxing saga was revived after Rocky Balboa hung up his gloves in the ill received 2006 sequel.

Michael B. Jordan (Black Panther, Just Mercy) played Adonis Johnson, the illegitimate son of Apollo Creed, the legendary fighter from the previous films. Throughout Creed, age old Rocky fans are treated to the same cliches, from sweaty training montages to the exciting brass fanfare in the final bout.

However, director Ryan Coogler, hid away some truly emotional moments in what everyone expected to be a mindless grab for nostalgia at the box office. Creed explored Adonis’ damaged relationship with his biological father and the shadow of his legacy. Sylvester Stallone shines in his returning role and gives a surprisingly nuanced performance as Rocky battles with cancer and his own past.

Creed is full of high stakes fights, both in and out of the ring.

Mad Max: Fury Road

The revival of the Mad Max franchise was met with critical acclaim and smash hit responses from fans. Tom Hardy was a perfect replacement for Mel Gibson’s iconic role and it brought back the same campy adrenaline fueled mayhem of the previous three films.

But hidden away in the gunning engines and gun toting drivers were some truly impactful performances from the film’s real hero. But that wasn’t the titular character. Charlize Theron plays Furiosa, a general to a warlord who escapes with his sex slave ‘wives’.

While escaping, they all seek a far off paradise, an oasis of green in the middle of the scorched desert. But when they realise that their haven is nothing more than desolate scrubland, Furiosa breaks down in a ferocious scream. It is a deeper moment than anyone expected from the Aussie revival, full of anguish and hopelessness that the audience could not take their eyes off.

I Am Legend

In the mid 2000s, the iconic sci-fi thriller I Am Legend brought Will Smith into one of his most iconic roles. Adapted from a novel, Smith played Dr. Robert Neville, a military virologist who believes he is the last human alive after a zombie outbreak.

Dr. Neville fortifies his house and uses several big guns and explosions to hold back the hordes of zombies. But secluded behind the flames and bullets was a genuine struggle against loneliness and isolation. Smith delivers a genuinely heart-wrenching performance as his mind cracks more and more.

But the truly gut punching moment came from Neville’s only companion, a German Shepherd named Sam. When Sam is bitten while defending her owner, audiences are left with one of the saddest animal deaths in cinema. Sam was Neville’s only comfort in his loneliness and when he is forced to snap her neck, we see him fall deeper into his madness. As unmissable as the movie is, bring some tissues because it will leave you blubbing.

Baby Driver

Baby Driver was the first feature film from writer/director Edgar Wright since he finished the iconic ‘Cornetto’ Trilogy. With more influence from Hot Fuzz, Wright brought back the firepower and did it with style.

With plenty of tire screeches, bullets and a prominent soundtrack, it had all the elements of being a standard action/crime flick. But Wright flipped the script, delivering a heartfelt script about family, love and entrapment.

Baby’s budding romance with Debora and his loving relationship with his deaf foster father deliver some of the most heart-warming and heart-wrenching moments from a heist movie. Baby Driver kept the action extreme but the emotions paramount and delivered some true moments of warmth that every action fan should see.

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