by Aaron Peck
One of my favorite films from last year is hitting the Blu-ray shelves this week. It's a pretty sparse week for big releases, so hopefully quite a few people will pick up 'Rabbit Hole' and find the greatness therein. To celebrate the release of 'Rabbit Hole' we've put together another one of our Top 5 / Bottom 5 lists. This time 'Rabbit Hole's star Aaron Eckhart goes under the microscope. Which movies are his best, and which ones could have been better?
Eckhart caught his big acting break when director Neil LaBute met him and began casting him in his plays and movies. He graduated from BYU as a film major and even served a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
Since being discovered by LaBute, Eckhart has gone on to build up his acting career in Hollywood. In the past couple of years he's become a recognizable Hollywood face. He's headlined a few big blockbusters, but hasn't forgotten his indie roots. Such a career is bound to produce some highs and some lows. Lets go through them, shall we?
Like many, when I first heard that Aaron Eckhart was going to be playing Two Face in Nolan's new Batman movie I was a bit skeptical. Sure, Eckhart can pull off a smarmy lawyer, but would he be able to dive into the complete insanity that is Two Face's signature? I just didn't see it happening, but it did. Kudos to Christopher Nolan for working Two Face into the movie like he did. He didn't start out as Two Face, but as Harvey Dent. A good man trying his hardest to make his city safe. With Dent's ambitions laid out, it was even tougher to watch the man spiral downward so quickly with the Joker's help. Eckhart's few scenes as Two Face are brilliant. They could have easily gone way cheesy, but they didn't.
"A pair of literary sleuths unearth the amorous secret of two Victorian poets, only to find themselves falling under a passionate spell." If I gave you that synopsis, straight from IMDb, truthfully what would you think about this movie? Corny right? Something straight from the Lifetime channel. A movie that sounds so silly that you wouldn't even want to sit down and spend your time heckling it. What's surprising is how good Neil LaBute's 'Possession' really is. A movie premise that's so close to teetering on the edge of ridiculousness, instead winds up being an engaging and exciting movie. Eckhart's performance here only helps the movie work. Now we need it on Blu-ray.
Grief dramas are a dime a dozen, so, what makes 'Rabbit Hole' stand apart from the rest? Its stars' virtuoso work. The acting performances from Nicole Kidman and Eckhart are devastatingly real. This is one of Eckhart's very best. He suffers in almost absolute silence. One poignant scene really sticks out to me in that movie. That's when Howie (Eckhart) stares into his smart phone watching a movie he recorded of his son before his tragic death. It's a beautiful scene. No talking, but the look on his face is heart-breaking.
Yes, I know about 'Suspect Zero's whopping 18 percent rating on the TomatoMeter. I know that most people thought it was a wannabe 'Seven'. I know I'm going to get skewered for putting this one in Eckhart's top five best movies, but it's my list and you can count me in as part of the 18 percent that actually enjoyed this movie. Yes Sir Ben Kingsley steals the show, but I love how straightforward Eckhart is in playing the role of FBI investigator Thomas Mackelway. I don't care what anyone says, I'll always enjoy this movie and Eckhart's performance.
'Thank You for Smoking'
Looking back over Eckhart's filmography it's pretty obvious that his role in 'Thank You for Smoking' solidified his status as a leading man in Hollywood. Even though the movie only made a paltry $24 million domestically, it still was able to showcase Eckhart's broad range of acting skill. It showed that not only could he carry a movie effectively, but he had deft, deadpan comedic timing. Also, another Eckhart performance that we sorely need on Blu-ray.
I thought I was in a first person shooter game for most of the movie. Even though there are some decent scenes o alien destruction, and it was an okay enough distraction at the cinema, this was still a pretty bad movie. Especially when it came to its human characters. Eckhart's character Sgt. Michael Nantz is given this complete backstory about how he got his men killed in combat and now the men he's leading don't trust him. Let's be real here. Aliens are attacking the Earth and these soldiers are still holding onto something that petty? Aliens, guys. ALIENS!
Brian De Palma's 'The Black Dahlia' just didn't have it. It came across like it was trying way too hard. "Look this movie is so noir!" Not many people bought into it. Perhaps the worst part is that Eckhart's performance just isn't that good. Definitely not up to his 'Thank You for Smoking' or 'Rabbit Hole' standards.
I do owe the cheesy disaster movie 'The Core' something. It started a movie night with my college roommates which we called Super Seismic Sunday. Every Sunday we'd pick a new, ridiculous disaster movie to watch and riff on. 'The Core' started it all. That said, there's nothing redeemable about the terrible film. It's another disaster movie where apparently a nuclear bomb is going to fix everything if detonated in just the right spot. This time they've got to drill to the center of the earth and set it off. Hilarity ensues.
Shouldn't there be some kind of unwritten rule amongst lead actors that if you hear Jennifer Aniston is going to be playing opposite you in your upcoming romantic comedy that you immediately turn tail and run? I'm sorry, that seemed a little harsh, but Aniston has yet to show that she can actually be a romantic force in the movies. Eckhart kind of gets lost in another Aniston vehicle and never finds his way out.
There was a brief time in Hollywood where people actually thought that Ben Affleck could be a true action star. After 'Daredevil' and 'Paycheck' people pretty much wised up. Now before I get a ton of angry emails saying that Affleck was great in 'The Town,' I'd argue that 'The Town' wasn't an action flick. It was a drama that just happened to involve guns. The hilarious thing about 'Paycheck' was that it thought it was so smart, but instead of keeping the same spirit of Phillip K. Dick's short story, Jon Woo turned 'Paycheck' into just another tepid thriller with a few average chase scenes.
Eckhart's career took a huge leap after 'Thank You for Smoking' and has never looked back. He's continuously starred in some of the biggest blockbusters to hit cinemas, and even held his own alongside Heath Ledger's historic performance in 'The Dark Knight'.
Now feel free to chastise me in the forums for leaving out your favorite Eckhart movie, or (as I know will most likely happen) ridicule me for putting 'Suspect Zero' in his top five.