The Best They Ever Looked: Christian Bale with a Beard in “Reign of Fire”

It’s a big argument when it comes down to where an actor looked their best, especially since it has a lot to do with the preferences of those that are in on the argument. In terms of Christian Bale, some might say he looked his best in American Psycho when he was all slick, polished, and clean, but others would contend that he looked absolutely stunning in Reign of Fire with a beard, mustache, and in grungy, survivalist clothing. That might seem a bold statement but let’s take a look at things before making any final decisions about it. The two movies couldn’t be more different, just as the characters are. Where Patrick Bateman is cool, polished, slick, but sometimes scary to look at, Quinn is just flat out rough and tough. He’s the leader of the ragtag band of survivors that call Northumberland Castle their home, and in terms of being a leader he’s not terrible but he’s a bit over the top at times. Of course they live in a world where dragons have taken over and there’s no more time for being anything but extremely cautious.

As Quinn he tends to be extremely intense and not always entirely hygienic, but he does have an air of authority that no one questions until Van Zan and his small army of Irregulars arrive. Then it’s shown that Quinn is less than the powerhouse that so many think him to be since Van Zan is just flat out crazy and always ready to fight. But when it comes to still being a leader and a person of importance to his people Bale still manages to project himself as a calm point in the storm. His role as Quinn is that of a protector, a leader, and when possible an educator as well. He doesn’t suffer foolishness all that well but he also knows that he can’t push his people too hard or they’ll snap.

This is film in which the world is on the verge of forgetting what the human population even was, as the dragons have killed off so many that only pockets of humanity still exist. Those that have survived have done so largely because they’ve ran and hidden wherever they possibly could. Only those like Van Zan, who are dedicated to taking their world back, are willing to stand and fight. But the losses are heavy, as both Quinn and Van Zan know. Fighting against an opponent that doesn’t fear them or even acknowledge that their place in the world was earned is difficult enough, but trying to fight an enemy that is so much stronger and far more deadly is considered suicidal by many.

Bale managed to shine in this movie largely because he stuck to his character and didn’t roll over so easily when it came to trusting Van Zan. Once the castle had been attacked and decimated Quinn knew that the only chance to save what was left of his people was to follow Van Zan and do what he said. But all throughout the film he’s the hardcase that just won’t crack.

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