A lot of times your favorite heroes are loners: John McClain, The Man with No Name, James Bond, Jason Bourne – and I’m sure you can think of many, many more. However, sometimes you just can’t go it alone. Sometimes you need a #2 – a Hardy to your Laurel, if you will. But like all things, it’s about compatibility – just throwing two people together does not a good partnership guarantee.
The best action movies or dramas or even sci-fi films that feature a duo is all about how comfortable they work together. There’s two kinds of partners: those who have been together for a long time and those that are thrown together and yet somehow click. In either scenario, it’s all about how the two interact and that’s why these are my favorite on-screen duos:
5) Han Solo & Chewbacca: A cocky pilot with a shit-eating grin and a giant, furry “walking carpet” – only in a galaxy far, far away could this pair work better than most human partnerships. Despite the fact our Wookie friend never speaks a word of English, and looks the world’s best talking dog, I have to hand it to Harrison Ford, his interaction with what amounts to the world’s best Halloween costume feels genuine. He makes it feel like the two have been partners for a long time and been through enough to know each other’s quirks. I’d like to think these two are a big part why Star Wars became as popular as it did.
4) Martin Riggs and Roger Murtaugh – No list would be complete without the “buddy cop” entry and no one has managed to do it better than Mel Gibson and Danny Glover. You take your by-the-books veteran cop and your hot-headed loose cannon – throw ’em together and see what sticks. In this case the action and comedy deftly work together and work so well, they decide to go along for the ride three more times (with varying success). Still, you wouldn’t have half of these buddy cop films out today if it wasn’t for Lethal Weapon – for better or for worse.
3) Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow – Partners don’t just have to be two guys (or a guy and his hairy companion). In the case of Bonnie and Clyde all it takes is for a slick bank robber to sweep a bored small-town gal off her feet and go on a nation-wide crime spree. Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway are simply right for the plot. Turning criminals into heroes is a sticky business sometimes – Oliver Stone tried to update the idea in Natural Born Killers and I just couldn’t buy it – but Bonnie and Clyde get it right, even if they fudge the facts along the way.
2) Vincent Vega and Jules Winnfield – Certainly the most articulate hit men ever to grace the screen, John Travolta (in a career-reviving role) and Samuel L. Jackson (helping to solidify his position as “Bad Motherf@*er” forevermore) just seem tailor-made for this film – so much so, it’s hard to imagine anyone else playing the roles. Whether discussing French cheeseburgers, accidentally shooting Marvin in the head or making a life-altering decision in a greasy-spoon diner, the two simply mesh. Quentin Tarantino’s ear for rapid-fire, witty dialogue helps, but the actors truly know how to spin it as well.
1) Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid – Nobody quite captures the spirit of crime in the Old West like Paul Newman and Robert Redford. With a deft mix of action and comedy, the two actors are perfecto compliments to each other – so much so, they would team up again in The Sting (which I could have put in this spot, but I just personally prefer this film over it). Everything from the swift kick to the jewels, the slight over-use of dynamite, all the way up the final freeze-frame ending, this is the quintessential film partnership everyone else should aspire to emulate.
I’m sure you can come up with your own duos that make films truly dynamic. Maybe you prefer Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones in the Men in Black films or Chris Tucker hamming it up with Jackie Chan in the Rush Hour series. Wherever your taste lies, finding that perfect match isn’t always easy, but when two people come together and make you believe they actually belong together, that’s truly movie magic indeed.
Chris Kavan is the Community Manager for FilmCrave.com and he’s not getting too old for this shit, and would never turn down a royale with cheese.