I love a good villain. Truly. A quality villain drives the plot, forces the hero to grow, and stokes the audience in ways the hero can’t, by giving us someone we love to hate. I submit that The Adventure of Tintin‘s Ivan Sakharine deserves to join the ranks of the villainous elite.
As antagonists go, Sakharine has it all. He’s arrogant. He’s driven by greed and a thirst for revenge. He’s stylish and he motivates his subordinates with fear… What could he possibly be missing?
Not much. What I appreciate about Sakharine is that he seems to be perfectly balanced as a character: single-minded without being two-dimensional, and sophisticated without being an over-complicated mess. Let’s take a closer look, shall we?
Deliciously voiced by Daniel Craig, Ivan Sakharine arrives on the scene moments after a stranger warns our hero, Tintin, that dangerous men are after his newly-bought model ship. Enter Ivan, who proves to be very dangerous indeed.
A fan of the classic villainy tropes, Ivan is precise, intelligent and ruthless. He has no problem ordering his men (hired away from Captain Haddock) to try to kill Tintin.
He maintains at least one separate identity– to the Milanese Nightingale and Omar Ben Salaad, he might be nothing more than an enthused patron of the arts with the .
While his resourcefulness and cunning already make him a dynamic figure, his balanced flair for theatricality add volumes to his appeal. Of course his cane conceals a steel blade. It’s only natural that he’d travel with a trained hawk to do his bidding from afar. He does all this while still abstaining from becoming a complete ham.
What’s more, Sakharine is motivated by revenge. He holds a deep vendetta against Captain Haddock, for reasons that only become clear in the third act. It’s glorious.
I’ll refrain from saying more, to avoid giving away too much. Still. In the annals of truly great villains, Ivan Sakharine’s earned his rightful place.