Vincent Vega - Worst Criminal Ever?

by Matt Cates 19 days ago in movie review

Pulp Fiction's beloved bad guy might have made a poor career choice

Vincent Vega - Worst Criminal Ever?
Vincent Vega and Jules from Pulp Fiction

Recently a Quora user inquired if real-life criminals might hold intellectual interests similar to Vincent Vega's? As you may recall, Vega, the hitman played by John Travolta in Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction, certainly had some interesting conversations with his partner Jules (played by Samuel L. Jackson). But classifying feet tickling and cheeseburgers as intellectual interests? That seems like a stretch.

My take on Vega is a bit less rosy-colored than most, perhaps. I love the character, but let's face facts. He was a two-bit goon.

A very entertaining one, granted. But this is a character written by a young Quentin Tarantino, who spent years working at a video store watching movies. It's not exactly realistic.

Vincent Vega tries to be smooth and badass, and to a limited degree he is at least smooth. But badass? No way. He's a clown amateur at best. The thing is, he's supposed to be! That's what is so funny about him, he's a total fuck up, as intentionally written.

Consider the opening scene. Vega and Jules go into the apartment to confront a gaggle of young men in possession of something that belongs to their boss, Marsellus Wallace. Vincent Vega is goofing around in the kitchen instead of clearing the rooms, and he fails to see the obvious gunman hiding in the bathroom! Almost gets himself and Jules killed. Unprofessional.

And BTW, they were in the building way too long, chatting and shooting people with no disguise? Unprofessional. After the first shot they should have gotten out of Dodge. Instead they just hung out and kept chatting while the police were undoubtedly on the way.

Next, Vega accidentally shoots a guy while in a car driving in public, splattering the window with blood. Finger on the trigger while pointing gun at a person's head, gun accidentally goes off? It doesn't get more unprofessional than that. Yet the dynamic duo kept driving down the road instead of just pulling over immediately and at least wiping the blood off the window.

And where were they taking their prisoner to? Wallace! Driving a witness to murders right to the crime boss's office? Seems like a bad idea. Middle men are hired for a reason, to serve as a buffer.

After cleaning up the blood and brains from the backseat, Vega clearly needs to unwind, so he goes to buy heroin. Instead of taking it home, he shoots up at the dealers and goes driving along while high as a kite to pick up his boss's wife Mia. That's asking for trouble. And he almost certainly had an unregistered weapon in the car with him.

Vega and Mia have a nice dinner and dance-off before going back to her place. He lets his boss's wife wear his coat which has more heroin in the pocket, which she mistakes for cocaine and overdosed on. Panicked, Vega drives to his drug dealer's home, crashing the car and making a scene in a quiet suburb that should have brought the police and gotten them all thrown in prison.

Can things get any worse? Of course they can! This is Vincent Vega we're talking about. After being assigned to kill Butch for not taking a dive in a boxing match (thus costing Wallace a ton of money), Vega leaves his weapon on a counter while he's in the bathroom of Butch's apartment.

Let me say that again. He's on the job, sitting at the apartment of the guy he's waiting to kill, knowing he could turn up any minute. And what happens? He goes for a leisurely bathroom break, leaving his weapon unattended and out of reach. He's got no positive control of his own firearm.

So who winds up with it? Butch! Yes, Vega ends up getting killed with his own weapon. That's got to be the worst Darwin award move.

And all this in 24 hours? To me that puts Vincent Vega as literally the worst criminal in film history! Likeable, yes. Great dancer. Check. But clearly he made a bad career choice.

Oh, before I forget - bonus unprofessional move: trying to pick a fight in a bar with Butch in the first place, for no reason and after he'd already fucked up for the day. The man's a semi-pro boxer after all. Not someone to call "palooka" lightly. Well, Wallace was a pretty forgiving boss, I guess, to keep this guy on the payroll.

It's just a movie but Vega was begging to get arrested or killed throughout the film. He is not an intellectual, he's a goon, like his brother Vic (Mr. Blonde) in Reservoir Dogs. No real criminals could be as dumb and reckless as those Vega brothers and ever find consistent work. I don't think Tarantino really meant for them to seem like pros, just to be amusing to watch.

movie review
Matt Cates
Matt Cates
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Matt Cates

Retired Air Force Vet; former admin at Oregon State University; author of Haveck: The First Transhuman; GI Jobs contributor and admin at Amazing Turkey!

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