Cinema’s best booted and suited butt-kickers

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To mark the release of John Wick: Chapter 4, Dominic Corry cites cinema’s most kick-ass suit-wearing badasses.

We can thank the John Wick franchise for many things—platforming Keanu for modern audiences, returning action cinema to its grounded roots, revealing that all hitmen in the world are in a special club with weird rules—but something we should especially be grateful for is how it brought sartorial elegance back to big screen ass-kicking.

Apart from his love for his pets, the thing we know most about John Wick is that he likes to wear a nice suit. Mr. Wick isn’t cinema’s first besuited ass-kicker, but he currently stands as its most stylish.

To celebrate just how classy Keanu looks while tending to violent business in the John Wick films, please consider these notable predecessors.

All the James Bonds (1962 -present)

When you hear the words “suit” and “action movie” together, the first thing that comes is of course the James Bond movies. All five official Bonds—Sean Connery, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig—cut very fine figures in a nice tuxedo. Although he’s my least favourite Bond overall, I think Brosnan probably rocks a tuxedo the best.

Unlike John Wick, however, the James Bonds rarely actually throw down while wearing their Sunday best. A hazy mental survey tells me that Craig has probably spent the most time in a suit while engaging in ass-kicking action scenes.

The importance of the tuxedo to the Bond franchise is such that it is written into each portrayer’s contract that they’re not allowed to wear a full tuxedo in any other movie during their tenure. Which is why, in the 1999 remake of The Thomas Crown Affair, Brosnan had to have his collar loose while wearing a penguin suit.

James Bond himself is rarely the only badass wearing a suit in his movies, and special mention should be paid to Harold Sakata’s hat-throwing Oddjob in Goldfinger (1964), and Dave Bautista’s well-dressed henchman Hinx in Spectre (2015).

🤵 Dress the look with Barkers.

Sylvester Stallone in Tango & Cash (1989)

Cast against type as a yuppie cop Ray Tango in this late ’80s semi-classic, Sly looked surprisingly at home with the requisite Armani suit, complete with Gordon Gekko suspenders.

He loses the suit rather early in the film when he and Cash (Kurt Russell) are framed and sent to jail. But the opening set piece when Tango has a showdown with a giant truck on an open road is one of the all-time great suit-wearing badass moments.

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The whole cast in Reservoir Dogs (1992)

When Quentin Tarantino’s debut feature became the coolest thing out, it changed the cinematic lexicon for gangsters. With its defining imagery comprising a gang of crooks in suits, it suddenly meant any aspiring filmmaker just needed to chuck his friends in formalwear and he had a gangster movie on his hands.

In the ’90s, video store shelves were overflowing with films that tried to capitalise on this style, but few of them could hold a candle to Tarantino’s first flourish. Although we didn’t see everyone actually kicking ass in their suits (we mostly got Tim Roth, Steve Buscemi, Harvey Keitel and Michael Madsen in action, with the latter looking especially dapper), the whole affair brought a long-lasting sense of style to indie crime cinema.

🤵 Dress the look with Barkers.

Christian Bale in The Dark Knight (2008)

After James Bond, the most famous fictional suit-wearer might just be Bruce Wayne. Michael Keaton gave good tuxedo in 1989’s Batman, and Ben Affleck’s broad shoulders filled out some very nice suits in Batman v Superman and Justice League, but neither looked as dashing as Christian Bale in his second Batman movie. Something about the shape of Bale’s face just suits a suit.

Robert Pattinson’s Bruce Wayne seems less interested in looking sharp in his downtime than his predecessors, but at least he wore a suit to that funeral.

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Colin Firth in Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014)

This nascent British spy franchise owes much to the Bond series, and seems to wish to acknowledge that upfront by centering the entire… outfit… around a Savile Row tailor. Although Taron Egerton’s Eggsy, the protagonist, does eventually don some very nice suits, it is his recruiter/mentor Harry Hart (Firth) who really rocks the ‘fits.

In the film’s most memorable set piece, Firth gives us what is perhaps cinema’s greatest non-Wick instance of besuited ass-kicking, violently dealing to a church full of crazies while dressed appropriately for the location.

🤵 Dress the look with Barkers.

Jason Statham in Wrath of Man (2021)

The British bruiser may be famous for his predilection for cardigans, but when he chooses to rock a suit, things go up a notch. He wears a nice John Wick-ish all-black suit for a spell in the crazy cult actioner Crank (2006), but more recently sported a number of fine suits for the dark thriller Wrath of Man—the three-piece on the poster is to die for.

Heck, even the security guard uniforms in this film have a fine-dining quality to them.

🤵 Dress the look with Barkers.

To check out the full range of suits and accessories – visit the Barkers website