by Aaron Peck
Russell Crowe's filmography is an interesting one. Up until ‘The Insider’ Crowe was a relative unknown. He made appearances here and there, and was even in ‘L.A. Confidential,’ but it wasn’t until after ‘The Insider’ that Crowe solidified himself as an A-list actor. After that, he’s starred in almost nothing but blockbuster hits which were either tentpole releases or close to it. Whatever movie he appears in now features his name in big bold letters and he’s the force behind the movie’s marketing engine. Plain and simple, Crowe puts butts in the seats at theaters. Now we take a look back at Crowe’s career and define which roles were great, and which ones weren’t.
Joining up with director James Mangold and actor Christian Bale, Crowe and company set about remaking a Western classic, and they succeeded. Crowe played the slimy, yet reasonable Ben Wade, who led a crew of outlaws across the wild west. A breakout performance by Ben Foster steals many of the scenes, but Crowe still holds his own in this action-packed, thrill ride of a modern western. Also, a great bargain on Blu-ray!
A lot of people love it, some absolutely loathe it. I’m on the love it side, and find Crowe’s performance as Maximus intriguing. That moment where he rides back to his home and finds his wife’s and son’s charred bodies hanging there is a moving, emotional scene, to put it mildly. Crowe pulls it off magnificently.
Indeed ‘The Insider’ seemed to thrust Crowe into stardom. Playing pudgy tobacco whistle-blower, Jeffrey Wigand, Crowe really proved his dramatic acting chops were up to snuff. Garnering a Best Actor nomination from the Oscars, Crowe instantly showed us that he was among Hollywood’s leading dramatic men. As a sidenote, we really need a Blu-ray release of this one.
Another dramatic role and yet another acting Oscar nomination. Playing John Nash, Crowe delves into a part that has him dealing with an inner battle with his own mind. Is what he’s going through real? Or is it all a figment of his wondrous, but terrifying imagination?
Yes, I know the movie is slightly cheesy and takes the true-life events of Mr. Braddock and embellishes them a bit, but I love Crowe’s performance here. He’s able to perfect the everyman role, all the while staying stoically heroic. A hero for the working class. He pulls it off well.
Forget about the Robin Hood you knew. Forget about the stories of Robin Hood that you’ve read. This Robin Hood is just like any other generic medieval hero out there. He’s devoid of personality, or enthusiasm for what he’s doing. He’s called upon to dispatch bad guys with swords and arrows, and that’s about it.
I admit that the failing of this movie shouldn’t be squarely placed on Crowe’s shoulders. As a matter of fact, he’s pretty good here, along with his co-star Elizabeth Banks. The by-the-numbers movie however drags their performances down like someone single-handedly trying to keep the Titanic afloat. It’s just not working here, no matter how well done his performance is. It’s sad when a bad movie tears down a good performance, but this is the perfect example.
'Proof of Life'
Flying high on his success in ‘Gladiator’ Crowe took on another high-profile job in a kidnapping thriller called ‘Proof of Life,’ which was co-written by Tony Gilroy. Asked already to play the cardboard character of Terry Throne, counter kidnapping expert, Crowe didn’t really stand a chance. Paired alongside an insufferable Meg Ryan, the two of them run around for much of the movie avoiding clichéd danger at every turn. Definitely not one of Crowe’s best.
'A Good Year'
Yeesh! This is probably the scariest of Crowe’s bad films. Sporting a dismal 25 percent on the TomatoMeter at Rotten Tomatoes, ‘A Good Year’ is simply not good at all. Pairing up again with director Ridley Scott, Crowe takes on a rom-com that clearly shows two things. Scott should stick to directing what he knows best, fast-paced action films and Crowe should continue to act in them. He should never do another rom-com. Never.
I’ve always got to stick an “I’ve never heard of that” movie on the list. Would you believe that ‘Tenderness’ is actually one of Crowe’s newer movies? Sandwiched between big movies like ‘State of Play’ and ‘Body of Lies,’ ‘Tenderness’ is a head-scratcher. A movie that somehow Crowe was contractually obligated to do, IMDb.com states that Crowe finished filming all of his scenes in nine days. Apparently even he wanted to leave as soon as possible.
Like any big actor out there, Crowe has had his hits and misses. Which ones did we leave off the list that you'd like to see added? Or which inclusions do you disagree with? Let us know in the forums!