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Corrupt Corporate Executive / Live-Action Films

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Corrupt Corporate Executives in live-action films.

  • Older Than Television: A Corner in Wheat (1909) is about a Corrupt Corporate Executive who monopolizes the wheat market and then jacks up prices, victimizing both the poor farmer trying to sell his wheat crop, and the urban poor who can't afford to buy bread.
  • Astro: Alexander Biggs, who offers Jack a chance to come with him into space. When Jack turns down the offer, Biggs decides to bring him by force.
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  • Another early cinematic example of this trope are Five Brains and Checkbooks from Frau im Mond. They are a mysterious international cabal of capitalists who are trying to hijack the upcoming Lunar spaceflight to control Moon's supposed gold reserves in order to take over world's economy.
  • Unstoppable — There's a train going at full speed with no one driving it. It's filled with toxic, dangerous chemicals and eventually, it will crash. What does the head honcho guy (whose company is responsible for the train) say about this? "I'm not gonna put the company at risk just because some engineer wants to play hero!"
  • Gordon Gekko of Wall Street being the most obvious. The man believes in becoming rich at any cost, including destroying the livelihoods of hundreds of people.
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    • The sequel has Bretton James, who puts Gekko to shame (and, in fact, put him in prison for many years).
  • In the first RoboCop (1987) movie, Richard "Dick" Jones is an Evil Chancellor form of the Corrupt Corporate Executive, since he is only the vice-president of OCP under the seemingly benign "Old Man". In the sequel, the Old Man takes to the corruption like a duck to water. Seemingly the only remotely honest person working at OCP is Johnson, who was Bob Morton's #2 at Security Concepts, and he has some morally ambiguous dealings.
    • In the live-action series, the Chairman, the equivalent of Old Man, is considerably more well-meaning and altruistic; still expects a profit margin, but not willing to cause undue suffering to get there. His company, however, is crawling with CCEs on every level, providing handy throwaway villains for every episode. The Chairman is constantly surprised that someone with a Harvard education could be so corrupt. That said, even the Chairman has had his moments as he's willing to rush products and initiatives out in the first place without testing them and the episode "When Justice Fails" reveals he's engaged in insider trading.
    • The remake has Raymond Sellars, the CEO of OmniCorp (a subsidiary of OCP). He sees Murphy as nothing more than a machine that is the property of OmniCorp. Thus, he sees nothing wrong with overriding Murphy's will with the machine components and then kidnapping and threatening his wife and kid.
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  • Lord Cutler Beckett of the second & third Pirates of the Caribbean movies is one.
  • A shtick of many, if not all James Bond villains.
    • Hugo Drax in Moonraker. Doesn't gets more corrupt than using your company's resources to orchestrate a plan to annihilate all human life on Earth.
    • Elliot Carver in the James Bond flick Tomorrow Never Dies is a corrupt media mogul who has no problem with covertly starting a war between China and the UK to jack up his ratings.
    • Gustav Graves in Die Another Day is a billionaire diamond magnate and snobbish British playboy who seems to be interested in alleviating world hunger with his new solar satellite, but is actually Colonel Tan-Sun Moon, a renegade North Korean colonel who hopes to use the solar satellite to invade South Korea. And the wealth he "gained" was actually done by using a mining company as a front for illegally laundering conflict diamonds from Sierra Leone. He's also a Spoiled Brat (as his father had sent him to the West in hopes of bridging North Korea to the rest of the world, but when he learns that his son actually used plastic surgery to become Gustav Graves, he promptly disowns him), as though he was Western-educated and claims to despise the West for dividing Korea, he blatantly abuses foreign aid to finance a personal collection of sports cars, undergoes plastic surgery to become a British playboy, and is extremely corrupt and dictatorial.
    • Elektra King in The World Is Not Enough, daughter and heir to her father's Mediterranean oil pipeline, seduced her captor, murdered her father, kidnapped M, and plotted to destroy Istanbul so her pipeline would get more use. She's so much of a twisted villain, she's currently the only Bond Woman 007 himself has killed in cold blood.
    • Auric Goldfinger. A proper Bond villain. If you can't have the United States' gold reserves, you can always just destroy them. Wiping out the entire population of Fort Knox (civilian and military alike), and creating economic chaos in the West in the process is just collateral damage.
    • Max Zorin from A View to a Kill. How do you effectively corner the microchip market? Destroy Silicon Valley with a massive man-made earthquake. And if much of the West Coast has to go with it? So be it.
    • The whole American government in Quantum of Solace.
    • SPECTRE and its mysterious leader Ernst Stavro Blofeld are behind many criminal schemes involving Evil Plans of the Take Over the World variety. And its ruling council is a behind-the-scenes cabal of corrupt officials, politicians, terrorists and businesspersons — SPECTRE is essentially a shadow government, whose members choose to operate in the dark.
  • Carter Burke from Aliens. Though not a CEO, he's the only member of The Squad who answers directly to the Mega-Corp that owns the infested colony and constantly endangers everyone by putting his own agenda (capturing and weaponizing the eponymous aliens for profit) ahead of everyone else.
    • Peter Weyland from the semi-prequel Prometheus makes clear that he will do anything to become great (as in "godlike"), or die trying... and when he's actually dying? He funds an expedition to planet where Ancient Precursors supposedly lived in the hopes of finding a way to extend his life, without caring about the possibility of everybody else in the expedition dying in horrible ways. Which isn't too shocking, given that his last name is half of the Mega-Corp's (Weyland-Yutani).
  • The entire Nemoidian leadership of the Trade Federation in The Phantom Menace, and they only get worse when they become part of the leadership of the Seperatist Army. (Many sources reveal that greed and selfishness - not to mention cowardace - are very common among Nemoidians.) Other factions that lead the Seperatist Army, like the Banking Clan, are cut from the same cloth.
  • Everyone at the Unexploited Land Development Corporation in The Bad Sleep Well is this, especially the high-level executives like Iwabuchi who are willing to order people's deaths to maintain their position and stay out of prison.
  • Noah Cross from Chinatown is one of the greatest examples in cinema. A cunning, ruthless, and perverse sociopath, Cross, already the richest and most powerful man in Los Angeles, renders vast farmlands arid by illegally dumping their irrigation water into the ocean, thus causing their prices to plummet to next to nothing. After forcing the farmers to sell their land to his cabal of corrupt business partners, Cross intends to develop his newly acquired land by irrigating it with the water supply diverted from the city itself, through a new aqueduct and reservoir built from $8 million of taxpayer money. His only gain from this elaborate swindle is "The future!" What's worse, this doesn't even include his more...shocking crimes.
  • Judge Doom from Who Framed Roger Rabbit?... And how! Being the sole stockholder of Cloverleaf Industries, he murders Marvin Acme, the owner of Toon Town (framing Roger for it in the process) and then tries his hardest to make certain that Acme's will is never discovered so that Cloverleaf can win the bidding war to buy Toon Town, so that he can demolish it and build a freeway. (And as if that weren't enough, his plan involves murdering every toon living there.)
  • The plot of Fun with Dick and Jane kicks off with such a CEO destroying his company through fraud, Enron-style, and leaving his second in command and his head of PR to take the heat while he himself goes on to enjoy his millions.
  • The Godfather movies have quite a few. The Godfather himself could possibly count as this too since its all just business for them. And those businesses, casinos, are slightly shadier than others but its the official rule that violence is an accepted form of competition that leads to the worst of it. Despite this, the Godfather is important enough to be recognised and accepted by Senators and other politicians.
  • Conal Cochran from Halloween III: Season of the Witch, who planned to kill innumerable people through rigged Halloween masks simply For the Evulz, and because he's the descendant/reincarnation of an ancient evil Druid.
  • Mr. Potter in It's a Wonderful Life. He owns the bank, and eventually almost every business in Bedford Falls, excepting the Bailey Building and Loan. In the reality where he really owns everything, general conditions in town are horrific.
  • The board of directors of the toy company in The Santa Clause are a mild example — not violently corrupt or even being jerks, but rather they are highly apathetic about selling nothing but violent toys to kids. Tim Allen's character only realizes there's a problem after he starts turning into Santa Claus.
  • Arnold Royalton from the live action Speed Racer movie. He is part of a great, multi-generational corporate conspiracy to manipulate international racing competitions in order to manipulate motor company stock prices, and he's not adverse to join forces with the Mafia to commit murder off the track and ordering his drivers to cause 'accidents' on the track to get what he wants.
  • In Santa Claus: The Movie (1985), the evil CEO B.Z. (John Lithgow) is firstly vilified as an evil CEO who knowingly produces unsafe toys for children. (Why he would make teddy bears stuffed with sawdust and nails when presumably other metal things that WEREN'T construction nails (or just plain sawdust) probably would be cheaper isn't elaborated on... he's evil, get it?) When he gets the chance to market candy that will allow those who eat it to temporarily float or fly, he leaps at the chance to make millions and save his reputation, despite the fact that he has to (with no compunctions) Kick the Dog by shrugging off the knowledge that many children are likely to die due to the second, stronger version of the candy exploding if it gets too hot; he intends to take the money and escape to Rio before people find out about the danger.
  • Daniel Plainview of There Will Be Blood is a sociopathic oil baron.
  • Paul F. Tomkins from Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny who turns out to actually be Satan.
    • Although he isn't a corporate executive so much as a stage compere (Open Mike Guy).
  • J.K. Robertson in the MST3K-fodder movie Time Chasers. He starts developing the protagonist's time machine as a weapon, destroys the future, refuses to not destroy the future for some reason, and eventually just starts shooting people in the Revolutionary War. Riffing was pretty harsh on the character.
    Mike (as Robertson): Hi, I'm Bob Evil!
    • "I leave for ten minutes, and Evil Co is in shambles!"
  • Played for laughs with Tom Cruise's character from Tropic Thunder. The man is willing to allow one of his studio's most profitable stars to die at the hands of Vietnamese drug lords solely because his box office revenue is starting to decay.
  • Batman Returns has the aptly named Max Shreck who also fittingly enough dresses and looks like a vampire, since he secretly drains the city of its energy, and not so fittingly puts a convincing act as a benefactor to Gotham. While also whoever is too close to him mysteriously disappears like his wife and his business partner Fred Atkins.
  • Rutger Hauer's Richard Earle, from Batman Begins. Rapacious, cold, ruthless, swapping out philanthropy for weapons sales — definitely not true to Thomas Wayne's legacy. (And demoting Morgan Freeman's Lucius to the basement!) Must have been the role model for Iron Man's Obadiah...
  • Repo! The Genetic Opera has Rotti Largo, who used his corporation's wealth to push a bill legalising organ repossession through parliament.
  • As mentioned above, Joseph Pulitzer in Newsies. He raises the wholesale price of his newspapers by 10% because he wants more money (and who cares about the starving homeless orphans who have to pay for it?). Later, when his actions have provoked a strike that actually costs him money, he still won't back down, because giving in to demands from ragged street kids would make him look weak.
  • Ian Hawke from the Alvin and the Chipmunks film series. In the first film, he discourages Dave from furthering his music career at the beginning, then once the Chipmunks get famous, he proceeds to spoil them, distance them from Dave, and tire them out from constant tours. It wasn't until the Chipmunks see Dave infiltrating one of their concerts that they realise Ian's a bastard in sheep's clothing. In the sequel, he is jobless, but plans to get his revenge by adopting the Chipettes and putting their Battle of the Bands audition on the Internet. They end up getting the opportunity to open for Britney Spears, and Ian puts it in top priority over the actual Battle of the Bands concert, threatening to barbecue them if they don't comply.
  • William Easton in Saw VI seems to be this, but he doesn't quite fit the mold as shown each time he has to let someone die.
  • Daniel Clamp, the Donald Trump parody in Gremlins 2: The New Batch is a subversion; he's no great intellect and is more than a little thoughtless, vain, superficial and shallow, but underneath it all he seems to have a genuinely good heart. Reportedly he was supposed to be one of these played straight, but John Glover — no stranger to playing villains — was reportedly sick of doing the same thing and decided to play against the script.
  • Jack Bennett, the CEO of Northmoor in Edge of Darkness. Not only is he secretly working to make dirty bombs for the US government under the guise of nuclear disarmament, he does not hesitate to fatally irradiate environmental activists or even his own employees to keep it quiet.
  • In Dogma, Bartleby and Loki visit a board of executives and reveal each and every one (save for one female board member) to be guilty of something horrible. The worst of them has more skeletons in his closet than the rest of the board put together. After messing with their heads, Loki kills them all except the aforementioned woman (and he nearly offs her for not saying 'God bless you' when he sneezed).
  • Subverted in Inception where Saito may be willing to use corporate espionage and screw with his business opponent's mind, but he's a man of honor through and through. When faced with one of Cobb's partners trying to sell him out, instead of taking the guy up on his offer, he has him restrained, tells Cobb what the guy tried to do, and gives Cobb the chance to have revenge. In that same scene, he has Arthur and Cobb cornered, but he still gives them the choice to work for him or walk away instead of blackmailing them as you would expect from any other corporate hack in movies these days. Right before The Caper begins, Saito dismisses Cobb's worries that he'll be arrested as soon as the plane lands by saying that as soon as the job is done, he'll make a single phone call which will get Cobb past Immigration. At the job's end, despite having just spent decades of subjective time in Limbo and finally returning to reality... the first thing he does is pick up the phone, just as promised.
  • The Net has Bill Gates Captain Ersatz Jeff Gregg, who uses the Batman Gambit of a cyberterrorist ring to convince the US Government to use his anti-virus program — which is programmed with a backdoor to allow those in the know easy access.
  • Al Pacino's character John Milton in The Devil's Advocate is not only evil, he is actually Satan.
  • Really averted in Local Hero - an American oil company is planning to buy a coastal village in Scotland to turn into a refinery/distribution center, and the villagers are all delighted at the prospect of selling out. Meanwhile, the CEO's main interest seems to be what's in the night sky there.
  • RoboGeisha: Both Hikaru Kageno and his father, Kenyama, heads of the Kagano Steel Manufacturing corporation. They kidnap and force young women into becoming their personal assassins, attempt to murder anyone and everyone who gets in their way, and they ultimately desire to destroy Japan to achieve their goals.
  • Travis from Congo is so obsessed with making money that he sends out multiple expeditions into the dangerous African jungle to search for diamonds that will make his company billions of dollars. When the members of the expeditions keep dying off, he doesn't care. He just sends more people out in the hopes that at least one of them will retrieve the diamonds.
    • Then there's the fact that one of those people is his own son. And no, he doesn't care.
  • Gary Winston in Antitrust. He tries to justify his actions (which include stealing others' work and outright murder) by claiming that any startup company in a garage can put his software giant NURV out of business.
  • Averted in Irish Jam, where the Japanese businessman Mr. Suzuki, seeking to build an amusement park on a small Irish island is, in fact, an honorable man. It's Lord Hailstock, the local landlord, who is the corrupt one.
  • Transformers: Dark of the Moon has Dylan Gould, who willingly helps the Decepticons. While it initially seems like he's under duress, it later becomes clear that he is, in some respects, more evil than the Decepticons.
  • The Big Bad in The Tuxedo is Dietrich Banning, who owns a bottled water company. His plan is to infect the US water reservoirs with deadly bacteria in order to be the sole supplier of drinking water in the country. He also offers the deal to the heads of the heads of the other major bottled water companies, in exchange for 50% of their income.
  • Pretty much everybody in Miss Nobody has some personal corruption, but for the top spot, it's a duel between two of the executives at Judge Pharmaceuticals: Nether, who tries to push a clearly dangerous drug onto the market to make money, and Sarah Jane, who is a Serial Killer trying to get herself one Klingon Promotion after another.
  • Sam Neill's character Bromley is every bit of this in Daybreakers. Even after a synthetic blood substitute is developed, he still won't release the captive humans from the blood farms. Why? Because rich vampires will pay top dollar for the real thing.
  • John Carlyle from Elysium. He is such a bastard that he is more concerned about the cost of replacing a set of sheets than the man lying on them being fatally irradiated thanks to Carlyle's factory having No OSHA Compliance.
  • Piet Smit from the film District 9 meets much of the criteria. Executive for a Mega-Corp arms manufacturer. Check. Abusing the refugee aliens you've been contracted to care for. Check. Experimenting on them to gain control of their weaponry. Check. Allowing your son-in-law to be dissected live just to gain control of these weapons, and then lying through your teeth to your heartbroken daughter about what's happening. Double Check.
  • The Wolverine:
    • Shingen Yashida from is a rich businessman with ties to the Yakuza.
    • Ichirō Yashida, in the end of his life. He secretly ran his company's finances to the ground to purchase everything he needed to try to steal Logan's Healing Factor and regenerate his body with it.
  • Judah Clark from Dead in Tombstone is the mine owner who happily cuts a deal with Red and the Blackwater Gang to keep the money flowing into his coffers.
  • In Champagne for Caesar evil and possibly insane soap company CEO Burnbridge "Dirty" Waters (Vincent Price) attempts to sabotage the genius who is using his own game show to bankrupt the company. When the genius gets a cold he sends a beautiful woman pretending to be a nurse in order to fog his mighty brain. Of course, the genius figures it out and uses it against him.
    • At one point his secretary asks Waters why he just doesn't throw the genius off the show. Waters takes her hands and gently explains his thinking. "You see, my dear, if we throw his off the show our viewers won't like it. If they don't like it they won't watch the show. If they don't watch the show they won't buy our soap. If they don't buy our soap, our sales will drop to nothing AND WE'LL LOSE MONEY!"
  • Eric Sacks from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014). His Evil Plan amounts to releasing a lethal biotoxin upon New York just so he can profit from making an antidote.
  • Archie Channing from Quigley was this at first. He had a lack of goodness and understanding, which was the reason why he treated all of his employees with contempt, along with the fact that he also hated dogs. However, that all changes when he ends up in a car crash and ends up in heaven, but after the angels there tell him that he never did a good deed in his life, they decide that he must be sent back to Earth in the form of an adorable Pomeranian named Quigley, all while supervised by his guardian angel, Sweeney. At the end of the film, Archie is able to amend his unforgiving ways and is able to make amends with his brother Woodward.
  • The Lazarus Effect has Mr. Wise, the owner of the rival pharmaceutical company and the Dean of the school. The latter allows the former to take all the protagonists' research, and the former spied on the team and sabotaged their research once they got results.
  • Billy Madison: Eric is this Up to Eleven. He blackmails Billy's principal into failing him so he can take control of the company. At the academic decathlon, he bombs a question on business ethics.
  • Scanners III: The Takeover: When Helena takes over her father's pharmaceutical firm (after murdering him in cold blood), she takes the company in ethically dubious directions he would have objected to, uses her psychic powers to kill her professional rivals, and eventually tries to brainwash the world.
  • In Jurassic World Hoskins is convinced that Masrani is one of these. Nope, it's a Subverted Trope: Masrani is indeed an Honest Corporate Executive. Bone-headed, sometimes, but honest. The ironic part is Hoskins himself is arguably a Corrupt Corporate Executive (ok, chief of security but he does take over the park after Masrani's death). How corrupt is he? He and Mad Scientist Dr. Wu had deliberately engineered the Indomitus Rex to be intelligent and vicious, then ordered the raptors to attack her, as a field test. Turns out they're trying to breed dinosaurs to replace conventional weapons in warfare.
  • The antagonist, Mr. Jeffries, from Amazing Grace and Chuck. He's essentially a stand-in for the more nebulous concept of the military-industrial complex as a whole: rich, powerful, ruthless, and not happy that some "wild cards" are messing with the system that he derives his wealth and influence from.
  • Bartholomew Bogue, the Big Bad of The Magnificent Seven (2016), is the 'Robber Baron' version; driving homesteaders off their land so he can mine it for gold. Farraday even refers to him as 'Robber Baron' Bogue.
  • Hot Fuzz: Subverted with Simon Skinner. Nicholas initially connects the series of murders to him and a land deal but it turns he and the NWA were murdering people in a twisted attempt at winning a community award. His business tactics were quite ethical.
  • In The War Wagon, Frank Pierce runs the Pierce Mining Co. He attempted to murder Taw Jackson and, when that failed, had him framed and sent to prison so he get control of Jackson's land.
  • In Deewaar, a mine owner puts an end to a strike by kidnapping the union leader's family and threatening to kill them unless he signs an agreement that's very unfavourable to the miners.
  • Rampage (2018) has Claire and Brett Wyden, who have their company undertake illegal research into weaponizing genetic manipulation. When this creates the giant mutant animals that the movie focuses on, their reaction is to lure them to Chicago (putting countless innocent lives in the process) just for a chance to get DNA samples from them, while at the same time trying to frame their former employee Kate for their own actions. And during the climax, they take her hostage at gunpoint (while trying to kill Davis in the process) to try and force her to continue her research for them.
  • Vice has Julian Michaels, the greedy head of the titular company, who allows customers to use, abuse and murder thousands of androids with human thoughts and feelings, just to fill his own wallet.
  • In Tall Tale, evil coal-mining magnate J.P. Stiles wants to turn Paradise Valley into a coal mine and will let nothing stand in his way.
  • Jupiter Ascending: Kalem Abrasax is the head of the inter-galactic company Abrasax Industries, whose purpose is to harvest entire planets of life to create a rejuvenation drug. He also doubles as a Evil Overlord, due to being King of the Universe thanks to his status as Entitled.
  • Max Fairbanks in What's the Worst That Could Happen?. Amongst the corporate malfeasance seem in the film are declaring bankruptcy as an expediency to avoid corporate responsibility, and attempting to bribe a senate subcommittee.
  • In Goldstone, Jimmy is the local manager for the Furnace Creek Mining Group. He is lying to his superiors in order to push through a crooked land deal; bribing local officials; turning a blind eye when one of his partners sanctions a murder; is importing Sex Slaves to work in a quasi-legal brothel; etc.
  • Record executive Reginald Charming from Tricky People is a pedophile who tells children he's going to help them get famous in order to trick them into coming to his studio.
  • In Shandra: The Jungle Girl, Travis Fox is a businessman who funds the expedition to locate Shandra so he can capture her, bring her back to the States, and sell her to the highest bidder.
  • In The Chain Reaction, the head of the Western Atomic Long-term Dumping Organisation, or WALDO, is only interested in protecting himself and believes that an accident at one of their facilities should be covered up despite the potential radioactive contamination putting thousands of lives at stake, and will stop at nothing to silence the protagonists.
  • Iron Man: Obidiah Stane has no problem selling Stark Industries weapons to Ten Rings under the table. Or hiring Ten Rings to kill Tony Stark to advance his position in the company.

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