10. Three Kings (tie) – A great cast, an exceptional director, and an intriguing premise all add up to what some critics called at the time – a ‘modern classic’. The film, released in 1999, works as an action/adventure, a comedy, and a wonderfully subversive lesson in recent political history. The film set during the aftermath of the Persian Gulf War is at heart a story about helping people. Ice Cube and Wahlberg surprised audiences by just how good they were here, and the film moves along at such a quick pace, that when it ends – you don’t want it to. You want more. This would be Mark’s first time working with Clooney, proving that they are good working together in movies. They would join forces again the following year in The Perfect Storm. Mark will join forces again with director David O. Russell in this December’s The Fighter. Rating:
10. Shooter (tie) – I honestly didn’t think much of the trailer for this film prior to its release, but I took a chance on it anyway, being a fan of Wahlberg. I must say that I was pleasantly surprised with the result. Mark plays Bob Lee Swagger (great name!), a marksman living in exile is coaxed back into action after learning of a plot to kill the president. Ultimately double-crossed and framed for the attempt, he goes on the run to track the real killer and find out who exactly set him up, and why. Some elements of the film are reminiscent of Clint Eastwood’s In the Line of Fire. Add the high octane action provided by director Antoine Fuqua, mixed with a clever script, and the believability of Wahlberg in the lead role and you have a film that provides very solid entertainment. Rating:
9. The Italian Job – A marvelous cast and a director at the top of his game. Edward Norton, Charlize Theron, Jason Statham, Donald Sutherland and Wahlberg as the mastermind behind the heist, Charlie Croker. A remake of a 1969 film that starred Michael Caine, this updated version is very slick, very cool, and very well cast. What separates this heist film from most others are the great landscapes, great special effects, and a stylish bit of direction from F. Gary Gray, in what I still consider to be his best film. The movie is fun to watch and the pacing of the it keeps your attention throughout. Rating:
8. Four Brothers – A film that far exceeded my expectations, this revenge drama that starred Wahlberg, Tyrese Gibson, Andre Benjamin, and Garrett Hedlund (TRON) as four brothers who seek out those responsible for the murder of the lady that raised them. As the Mercer brothers, these guys do a great job of making you want them to get their revenge, and the bad guys in the film are cast well too. By the end of the picture, you hate them so much, that watching them get justice handed to them by the brothers is the icing on the cake. Wahlberg, as the hot headed Bobby Mercer, seems perfectly at ease in his role. You get the feeling that Bobby Mercer represents a younger Mark Wahlberg – pre-family Mark, that is. Mark has begun pre-production work on the sequel Five Brothers. Rating:
7. The Other Guys – check out my full review at The Other Guys review Rating:
6. FEAR – The premise of this film is familiar, as the good little daddy’s girl hooks up with the ultimate control freak of a boyfriend. But what makes this drama different is a true credit to the actors involved. William Petersen nails the role of the father who thinks he’s in total control of his family, and Reese Witherspoon is perfectly cast as the naive 16 year old daughter who think she knows everything. This film is one of my favorites, though, due to the over the top psychotic portrayal of the crazy boyfriend David McCall, played by Wahlberg. I can’t imagine the film being as entertaining without Mark in the role. This came out in 1996, and Mark had still yet to do anything really big in the industry. This was it for me – the first great performance by him. And a sign of great things to come. Side note – this film has a great soundtrack as well. Rating:
5. We Own the Night – The brilliant cast, the well written story, and the tense direction of James Gray combine to make one of the best surprises of 2007. The film is really more about Joaquin Phoenix’s character, Bobby Green, however, the family drama that plays out between Bobby, his brother Joseph Grusinsky and his father Burt Grusinsky is the main focus of the plot. The believability of what unfolds is what makes this a must see. I do think the film could have had a better title, but that’s really my only flaw with it. Duvall shines as the father who is just trying to protect both of his sons – one of which is the up and coming officer portrayed by Mark, and the other who is a club owner who gets caught up in the Russian mob, portrayed by Joaquin. Eva Mendes is also good, as are the rest of the supporting cast. The action sequences are well shot, but in the end, this is a family drama – that has a truly satisfying ending. Rating:
4. The Perfect Storm – A true story about the disappearance of the “Andrea Gail”, which left Gloucester, Mass. and headed for the fishing grounds of the North Atlantic. In the fall of 1991, an event took place that had never occurred in recorded history. The reason why this film resonates with audiences is the believability of what we’re watching. You feel like George Clooney and Wahlberg are really fisherman, and the way the characters are developed makes you really feel for them when their boat ultimately goes down. I enjoyed everything about this film. Wolfgang Petersen’s amazing direction, along with some top notch special effects, makes this film a true standout among true life disaster pictures. The true feat of the film – the development of the characters. All of the supporting players are perfectly cast, from John C. Reilly to John Hawkes. The real life people they are playing would have been proud of the performances given, and none better than Wahlberg, who gives heart and sadness to his portrayal of Bobby Shatford. Rating:
3. Boogie Nights – Drugs, parties, porn. A film that’s not for everyone. The subject matter is too much for some audiences as the film pulls no punches about things that transpired in the Californian porn industry back in the 1970’s-1980’s. A showcase of great performances from Mark, a rejuvenated Burt Reynolds, Heather Graham, Julianne Moore, and John C. Reilly, Boogie Nights gets the best out of its actors. A very well written script, plus marvelous direction by Paul Thomas Anderson, the film is now what I consider a modern classic. You get involved by watching the story of these characters play out, and it never lets you down. You begin to care about what happens to them despite the lifestyle they chose for themselves. It is a true testament to the material, and Mark nails his role as the lead character – Dirk Diggler. Once again, a performance that I can’t imagine anyone else doing. Wahlberg was – Dirk Diggler. Rating:
2. THE FIGHTER – Read my full review of this great sports film here. Full review of The Fighter
1. The Departed - No shock here. If you read my top 10 list for Leonardo DiCaprio, this film would be at the top of that list as well. If Leo’s Billy Costigan was the glue that held all of the characters together, then Mark’s Sgt. Dignam provided some key moments of levity and comedy that helped the film become in my opinion, the best of 2006. Mark steals every scene he is in, and this is the reason he was nominated for a Golden Globe and an Oscar. Martin Scorsese assembled one of the best casts for any film ever when he put this one together. Wahlberg, DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Martin Sheen, Vera Farmiga, and Alec Baldwin are perfectly cast – and it is fitting that Mark’s Sgt. Dignam is the last man standing at the end of the film. Rumors swirled that there would be a spinoff film for his character. Haven’t heard anything recently about that, but I would love to see it. Rating:
*Honorable mentions – The Basketball Diaries, Invincible, and The Lovely Bones
Future projects include The Brazilian Job (sequel to The Italian Job), Five Brothers (sequel to Four Brothers), and a big budget redo of Cocaine Cowboys. His other big role is serving as executive producer and co-creator of the HBO hit show Entourage.
Mark “Marky Mark” Wahlberg was joined by his family yesterday – his wife Rhea Durham and their four kids — Ella Rae, 6½, Michael, 4, Brendan Joseph, 22 months, and Grace Margaret, 6 months — and was all smiles as he posed for pictures while receiving a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame. A well deserved star it is, and I see definitely see an Oscar in his future…believe it.