Total Recall: Mark Wahlberg's Best Movies
We count down the best-reviewed work of the Other Guys star.
Part of the wave of heist flick remakes that gave us new versions of The Thomas Crown Affair and Ocean's Eleven, F. Gary Gray's "homage" to the 1969 Michael Caine caper The Italian Job put Wahlberg in the middle of a double-crossing, gold-thieving band of criminals that included Charlize Theron, Jason Statham, Mos Def, and Seth Green. Though critics were quick to point out that the new Job didn't really add much to the original -- and the movie was arguably better-known for its heavy use of trendy Mini Coopers than anything that actually transpired in the plot -- it offered 111 minutes of agreeably undemanding action thrills. As Jon Niccum of the Lawrence Journal-World wrote, "Filled with easy-to-like characters, innovative action sequences and a story rife with momentum, the movie is as endearingly zippy as the BMW MINIs the heroes use to pull off their scam."
Truly entertaining stories about con men are difficult to come by -- and even the best of the bunch tend to focus on the thrill of the grift, leaving the characters themselves in the background. 1997's Traveller reversed the formula, examining the knotty feuds and traditions of a tight-knit clan of small-time North Carolina con artists, in particular Bokky (Bill Paxton), a Traveller whose life is thrown out of balance when he crosses paths with the son of an exiled member (Mark Wahlberg) and develops an honest emotional attachment to one of his victims (Julianna Margulies). It isn't one of Wahlberg's better-known movies, but it was a hit with critics like ReelViews' James Berardinelli, who wrote, "The script is smart and sneaky -- by never telling the audience more than is necessary, it develops a keen sense of suspense that persists until the gritty final reel."
A year after terrorizing Reese Witherspoon in Fear, Wahlberg made the leap to Serious Actor territory with the starring role in Paul Thomas Anderson's ensemble opus about life in the porn industry, Boogie Nights. As the genitally gifted Eddie Adams, a.k.a. Dirk Diggler, Wahlberg took a character that could have been a cheesy joke and imbued him with palpable emotion. One of that year's biggest critical winners, Boogie Nights started Anderson'a and Wahlberg's careers in earnest, earned co-star Burt Reynolds some of the best reviews of his career, and enjoyed a thumbs up from Roger Ebert, who wrote, "As a writer and director, Paul Thomas Anderson is a skilled reporter who fills his screen with understated, authentic details."
2. The Departed
We love to hate remakes, but not all of them are created equal; for proof, look no further than The Departed, Martin Scorsese's expertly cast treatment of the 2002 Hong Kong hit Infernal Affairs. On the surface, it might look like just another crime thriller where no one is who or what he seems -- but this kind of story is all in the telling, and Scorsese had a tightly wound William Monahan screenplay to work from, as well as a bruising set of leads in Matt Damon, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jack Nicholson, and Wahlberg. A four-time Oscar nominee, The Departed finally earned Scorsese his long-overdue Best Picture and Best Director honors, and triggered an avalanche of praise from critics like Terry Lawson of the Detroit Free Press, who applauded, "It's a thinking fan's thriller, a movie involving multiple fully dimensional characters, multiple story lines and edge-of-your-seat twists and swerves, stylized to just the edge of believability."
1. Three Kings
Anyone who wonders why audiences refuse to see movies about the wars raging in the Middle East would do well to study the example set by David O. Russell, who waited eight years before making the Gulf War picture Three Kings -- and even then, the conflict served mainly as grist for a heist storyline involving a trio of U.S. Army Reservists (George Clooney, Ice Cube, and Wahlberg) making plans to steal plundered Kuwaiti gold. Widely recognized as a sharp, stylish satire today, Kings wasn't a huge commercial success during its initial theatrical run, but it earned instant admiration from critics like Sean Means of Film.com, who called it "Possibly the best wartime comedy since Robert Altman's M*A*S*H."
In case you were wondering, here are Wahlberg's top 10 movies according RT users' scores:
1. The Departed -- 92%
2. Boogie Nights -- 84%
3. Four Brothers -- 83%
4. Shooter -- 82%
5. The Italian Job -- 79%
6. The Basketball Diaries -- 78%
7. I Heart Huckabees -- 75%
8. Invincible -- 75%
9. Three Kings -- 70%
10. Fear -- 66%
Finally, here's Mr. Wahlberg bringin' some good vibrations to the entire nation: