Total Recall: Best Joel Silver Productions

We count down the best-reviewed work of the Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows producer.

Joel Silver

This weekend, Robert Downey, Jr. and Jude Law return to theaters in Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, reuniting the duo that sleuthed up more than $520 million in worldwide box office receipts during their 2009 debut. But it isn't just Robert and Jude who deserve credit for all this blockbuster detecting -- there's a whole team behind Hollywood's latest incarnation of Holmes and Watson, including director Guy Ritchie and screenwriters Kieran and Michele Mulroney (not to mention the characters' creator, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle). But today, we're here to pay tribute to someone else: Joel Silver, a co-producer on the Holmes franchise and someone whose instinct for developing major movie hits has made him one of the industry's most sought-after talents for the last 30 years. You know his name, you've seen it on the credits of countless films, and now it's time to take a look at some of the most critically successful of the bunch. It's time for Total Recall!


70%

10. Sherlock Holmes

Over 100 years after he made his debut on the printed page, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's famous detective got the big budget Joel Silver treatment in the aptly titled Sherlock Holmes, starring Robert Downey, Jr. as the intrepid sleuth and Jude Law as his faithful sidekick Watson. Joined by Rachel McAdams as the mysterious Irene Adler and assisted by Guy Ritchie's action-heavy direction, Holmes made solving 19th-century mysteries cool again -- and entertained critics such as Bill Goodykoontz of the Arizona Republic, who wrote, "Playing literature's greatest detective as a sort of self-loathing action hero, Downey has an absolute blast. And thanks to his performance in Sherlock Holmes, so do we."

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73%

9. V for Vendetta

The famously cantankerous Alan Moore disavowed the Hollywood version of his graphic novel, taking issue with the way the Wachowski-produced V for Vendetta used the political subtext of the book -- which was written in the 1980s -- to frame an argument against neoconservatism. And Moore probably had a point, too -- but as hard as it is to begrudge an author his criticism of an adaptation of his work, it's also easy to understand why the gripping, stylish Vendetta was a critical and commercial hit when it reached theaters in early 2006. James McTeigue's direction is at its most thrilling here, and the Wachowskis' script manages to incorporate thought-provoking themes with good old-fashioned action. And then there was Natalie Portman, who had her head shaved on camera for her role as Evey Hammond, the ordinary citizen driven to vigilantism by a totalitarian political regime (as well as some remarkably persuasive speeches from a masked, yet still utterly charismatic, Hugo Weaving). V for Vendetta was so dark, and so unapologetically political, that it's still a little hard to believe it was a $100 million-plus hit -- but it certainly didn't hurt that it provoked eloquent praise from critics like Jonathan R. Perry of the Tyler Morning Telegraph, who wrote, "V screams loudly and long, with visceral, kinetic fury and with style to burn. It's so brazen, it's kind of brilliant."

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73%

8. The Matrix Reloaded

Four years after The Matrix earned $463 million at the box office, Silver and the Wachowskis got the band back together for The Matrix Reloaded, in which Neo (Keanu Reeves) starts getting to the bottom of the conspiracy that has enslaved humanity -- and introduces audiences to the Merovingian (Lambert Wilson) and Persephone (Monica Bellucci). Though it didn't offer quite as many paradigm-shifting thrills as the original, Reloaded outgrossed the first installment by a few hundred million -- and impressed critics like Colin Covert of the Minneapolis Star Tribune, who wrote, "For sheer exhilarating spectacle, The Matrix Reloaded is the film to beat this year."


78%

7. Predator

Like any great blockbuster producer, Silver knows how to smell a hit -- and during the 1980s, that scent was Eau de Schwarzenegger. Silver and Ahnuld teamed up twice during the decade, and the results -- Commando and Predator -- are among any action fan's favorites from the era. Here, Schwarzenegger must lead a team of tough-as-nails soldiers into the jungle on what's believed to be a rescue mission for prisoners of war -- but which quickly turns out to be a bloody fight against a dreadlocked interstellar hunter (played to perfection by the late, lamented Kevin Peter Hall). Silver's pictures from the period tended to follow a certain formula, but at this point, familiarity hadn't yet bred contempt -- and anyway, if Predator lacks a surplus of moving parts, it does what it's supposed to with cool precision. "It achieves a sort of sublime purity," sighed an appreciative Tim Brayton for Antagony & Ecstacy. "It is Action Movie, nothing more and nothing less."

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83%

6. Lethal Weapon 2

After the immense success of 1987's Lethal Weapon, and the enduring popularity of the buddy cop genre it helped define, it came as no surprise to anyone when a sequel surfaced two years later. What was shocking, however, was just how much fun Lethal Weapon 2 turned out to be. Boasting further opportunities for Gibson to test the limits of action-hero funny business as nutty LAPD sergeant Martin Riggs, some of the nastiest bad guys in any late 1980s action thriller, and rapid-fire comic relief in the form of Joe Pesci, the second Weapon flew in the face of conventional wisdom by scoring with filmgoers and critics alike. In fact, some preferred it to the original -- including scribes like Brian Orndorf, who called it "One of the finest examples of the genre, and, in my humble estimation, one of the greatest sequels put to film. Perhaps deranged hyperbole, but rarely does a follow-up outgun the original film as swiftly as Lethal 2 does."

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84%

5. Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang

There's no surefire way for an actor to guarantee that any given project will be a hit at the box office, but having Joel Silver attached certainly doesn't hurt a movie's chances for success. As evidenced by most of the other entries on this list, Silver is mostly known for his commercial instincts -- which is why 2005's Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang, a skewed noir comedy directed and adapted by Shane Black (The Last Boy Scout) came as such a pleasant surprise for critics. Downey, who worked with Silver on 2003's Gothika, is squarely in his wheelhouse here, starring as a two-bit hood who repeatedly breaks the fourth wall as he stumbles from one circumstance (accidentally landing a movie role) to another (discovering a murder mystery) while trading quips with the private investigator (Val Kilmer) who's helping him research his character. Kiss Kiss saw only limited release during its brief theatrical run, but it earned high praise from the likes of the Washington Post's Desson Howe, who called it "the first movie since 1994's Pulp Fiction not just to understand movie violence as a pop cultural form... but to play it like a virtuoso violinist."

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Comments

Dave J

Dave J

I only liked his action films and his drama ones not so much!

Dec 14 - 04:16 PM

Movie Monster

Bentley Lyles

The only Silver productions I've only seen The Matrix Trilogy, V For Vendetta, Speed Racer, and Sherlock Holmes. Plan to see Die Hard and Predator soon. Speaking of Bruce Willis, the GI Joe: Retaliation trailer was epic. It'll probably get bad reviews but it already looks better than Rise of Cobra. They got the Zombieland writers behind it so let's see how that turns out. Head on over to my profile and click on my Insidious review. Click on Marc L.'s comment and find his blog entitled "Like my script so far?". He plans to pitch it Joel Silver.

Dec 14 - 04:55 PM

King Crunk

King Crunk

You haven't seen Predator or Die Hard and you're talking about action movies?!?!? Get off the computer and see them immediately, man! So many action movies have stolen from or been inspired (different sides to the same coin, right?) by those flicks. Predator is really almost two action flicks in one. The first half is like every other action movie from the '80s with really buff commandos killing guys, and then it sort of devolves into a horror flick, and finally climaxes in an awesome showdown at the end, where who's the predator and who's the prey keeps shifting. Brilliant movie.

Dec 14 - 06:25 PM

DKUK

Derrick Wong

haha.... 'get off the computer'...In fact, stop everything and WATCH THOSE GODDAMN MOVIES.....

Dec 14 - 09:15 PM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

It's hard to appreciate the impact of a movie like "Die Hard", except if you can remember that before it came out, Bruce Willis was just a chubby, smug TV funnyman. Afterward, he became the coolest guy on the planet.

Dec 15 - 04:56 AM

bigbrother

Bigbrother .

LOL, I still remember my older brother squinting at the screen while I was watching it and saying in awed tones "Is that the dude from Moonlighting?"

Dec 15 - 05:43 AM

Manuel G.

Manuel Granados

He and Cybil Shepard did have a lot of chemistry but he was just this super dorky dude who I would have never imagined would end up being THE Bruce Willis. Would be kind of like seeing Christopher Walker for the first time ever in Hairspray and then seeing him be a badass in...well,everything else.

Dec 15 - 11:06 PM

bamb0o-stick

Jonathan Y

Die Hard is worth it now just to watch all the antiquated technology shown in the film. The touch screens, cell phones, CB radios, portable TVs, the list goes on. Other than that Die Hard is such a classic movie, the action is just timeless. I recently got the Quadrilogy for $20 on Blu-ray and loving every second of explosions in it.

Dec 15 - 07:08 AM

infernaldude

Infernal Dude

Not sure if I could admit that I've never seen Predator or Die Hard. Those movies are sooooooooooooooooo good.

Dec 15 - 02:39 PM

dethburger

dethburger hates Flixster

My favorites in order...

Die Hard
The Matrix
48 Hrs
v for vendetta
Predator
Lethal Weapon
The Warriors
Streets of Fire
Commando
Demolition Man

Dec 14 - 05:11 PM

Swampfox

Pat Marion

Demolition Man is such an awesome movie. I used to watch that movie 3 times a week when I was younger. It's so awesome seeing Wesley being the bad guy. The humor in that movie cracks me up.

Dec 15 - 12:34 PM

dethburger

dethburger hates Flixster

Sandra Bullock looked pretty nice in those skin tight pants too.

Dec 15 - 06:25 PM

King Crunk

King Crunk

I've always been mixed on V for Vendetta, but Hugo Weaving is superb in it. I'm surprised the second Matrix film is rated so high, because other than the great highway chase/fight, it was severely lacking the magic of the first movie. On the other end of the spectrum, I am baffled that Predator is rated so low; one of the finest action flicks out there. Die Hard, Lethal Weapon, and 48 Hours are classics, and deservedly so. Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang is one of the most unique films Silver has produced, and is criminally unknown to most people.

Dec 14 - 06:21 PM

justjoustin

Joshua G

I like V for Vendetta, it's an enjoyable film. I find it interesting the flak it cops for trying to be "this" or "that". I actually find it interesting how few films go there.

I agree Hugo Weaving is fantastic, as is Stephen Fry & the use of "Cry Me A River" by Julie London.

Great action flick.

Dec 15 - 12:56 AM

King  S.

King Simba

Yeah, I'll agree it lacked the magic of the first film, but as far as action movies go, it was pretty damn entertaining, though I don't think it should be rated higher than V for Vendetta (though that has more to do with V being underrated by critics in my opinion than Matrix Reloaded being overratted)

Dec 15 - 03:39 AM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

I didn't like the action sequences in "V". The violence in the book was no-nonsense and brutal. I think the film tried to glam it up a bit, fitting the typical 'young male' demographic need for flash and elaborate fighting. Actually, that's part of the weakness of the "Matrix" movies. I don't usually sit through the entire shootout at the end of the first one. It gets boring to me.

Dec 15 - 05:00 AM

bigbrother

Bigbrother .

Hmmm, I thought they did a wonderful job blending the two styles. If you watch closely V isn't doing anything overly elaborate with his fighting style (He kills like 12 guys in 15 seconds in the showdown at the end) it's just the way it's filmed that makes it look so stylish with the Matrix film tricks and such. I though the brutality was still conveyed especially in the Frye sceen when he gets bagged by Creevy and lets face it, a graphic novel format leaves a lot of room for interpretation.

Dec 15 - 05:49 AM

infernaldude

Infernal Dude

I thought the shootout at the end was fantastic. That scene is pretty much the boilerplate for every action movie that followed The Matrix for the next 10 years. From the lobby to the office to the helicopter to the roof top to the subway to the grimy abandoned building was action gold.

Dec 15 - 02:43 PM

Manuel G.

Manuel Granados

My first thought seeing the list was "What universe is this where Predator is rated lower than Matrix Reloaded?". Just getting to the highway scene, that is semi salvageable and doesn't have the raw action of the first Matrix, is a drag; the movie is all kinds of bad and trying to be super complex, but coming off as a lazy attempt to cash in on the success of the first. And the third...well that was just the Wachowski's swimming on gold and not giving a shit anymore.

Dec 15 - 11:09 PM

King Crunk

King Crunk

You haven't seen Predator or Die Hard and you're talking about action movies?!?!? Get off the computer and see them immediately, man! So many action movies have stolen from or been inspired (different sides to the same coin, right?) by those flicks. Predator is really almost two action flicks in one. The first half is like every other action movie from the '80s with really buff commandos killing guys, and then it sort of devolves into a horror flick, and finally climaxes in an awesome showdown at the end, where who's the predator and who's the prey keeps shifting. Brilliant movie.

Dec 14 - 06:25 PM

DKUK

Derrick Wong

haha.... 'get off the computer'...In fact, stop everything and WATCH THOSE GODDAMN MOVIES.....

Dec 14 - 09:15 PM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

It's hard to appreciate the impact of a movie like "Die Hard", except if you can remember that before it came out, Bruce Willis was just a chubby, smug TV funnyman. Afterward, he became the coolest guy on the planet.

Dec 15 - 04:56 AM

bigbrother

Bigbrother .

LOL, I still remember my older brother squinting at the screen while I was watching it and saying in awed tones "Is that the dude from Moonlighting?"

Dec 15 - 05:43 AM

Manuel G.

Manuel Granados

He and Cybil Shepard did have a lot of chemistry but he was just this super dorky dude who I would have never imagined would end up being THE Bruce Willis. Would be kind of like seeing Christopher Walker for the first time ever in Hairspray and then seeing him be a badass in...well,everything else.

Dec 15 - 11:06 PM

bamb0o-stick

Jonathan Y

Die Hard is worth it now just to watch all the antiquated technology shown in the film. The touch screens, cell phones, CB radios, portable TVs, the list goes on. Other than that Die Hard is such a classic movie, the action is just timeless. I recently got the Quadrilogy for $20 on Blu-ray and loving every second of explosions in it.

Dec 15 - 07:08 AM

Gordon Franklin Terry Sr

Gordon Terry

DIE HARD, 48 HRS, PREDATOR 2, LETHAL WEAPON, LETHAL WEAPON 2 . . . STREETS OF FIRE!!!!!!

THE WARRIORS (CYRUS!!!)

CYRUS!!!! CYRUS!!! CYRUS!!!!! STICK IT TO THE MAN, BRO.

Can you count, suckers?
I say the future is ours...
...if you can count.
- Come on, Cyrus. We're with you!
- Go ahead, bro!

Look what we have here before us.
We've got the Saracens sitting next to
the Jones Street Boys.
We've got the Moon Runners,
right by the Van Courtland Rangers.
Nobody is wasting nobody.
That...is a miracle.
And miracles is the way things ought to
be.
- Yeah!
- All right.
I heard that!
You're standing right now with nine
delegatesfrom a hundred gangs.
And there's over a hundred more.

That's over a thousand hard-core members -
counting affiliates,
and more not organised, but ready
to fight.
There ain't but three hundred police in the
whole town. Can you dig it?
Can you dig it?
Can you dig it?
Now, here's the sum total; one gang could run this city. One gang!
Nothing would move without us allowing it to happen.

We could tax the crime syndicates, the police,
because we got the streets, suckers.
Can you dig it?

The problem in the past has been The Man turning us against one another.
We've been unable to see the truth, because we've been fighting for ten square feet of ground - our turf, our little piece of turf.

That's crap, brothers.
The turf is ours by right because it's our turn.
All we have to do is keep up the general truce.

We take over one borough at a time. Secure our territory,
secure our turf, because it's all our turf.

BANG!
(CYRUS GETS SHOT!)
------
CYRUS is gunned-down by a gun given to a gang member (David Patrick Kelley) by The Man!

STICK IT TO "THE MAN" . . .

The Man's Day is just about OVER . . . .

We have to UNITE to KILL The Man.

"Cut him open while he sleeps;
watch him drown in his own blood"

Dec 14 - 06:27 PM

Gordon Franklin Terry Sr

Gordon Terry

The Man couldn't suffer Cyrus to live and The Man silenced Cyrus. GANG POWER! GANG POWER! GANG POWER! (Stick it to The Man, TONIGHT!!!!!!!)

Dec 14 - 06:29 PM

Gordon Franklin Terry Sr

Gordon Terry

The Man couldn't suffer Cyrus to live and The Man silenced Cyrus. GANG POWER! GANG POWER! GANG POWER! (Stick it to The Man, TONIGHT!!!!!!!)

Dec 14 - 06:29 PM

DKUK

Derrick Wong

haha.... 'get off the computer'...In fact, stop everything and WATCH THOSE GODDAMN MOVIES.....

Dec 14 - 09:15 PM

Myron

Myron Kinsey

Great movies, love all of them (well some of them I just like such as V for Vendetta), but Silver has produced some magnificent films, most of them are classics as well.

Dec 14 - 10:51 PM

justjoustin

Joshua G

I like V for Vendetta, it's an enjoyable film. I find it interesting the flak it cops for trying to be "this" or "that". I actually find it interesting how few films go there.

I agree Hugo Weaving is fantastic, as is Stephen Fry & the use of "Cry Me A River" by Julie London.

Great action flick.

Dec 15 - 12:56 AM

LirianB

Lirian Berisha

The Matrix Reloaded

Dec 15 - 02:17 AM

King  S.

King Simba

Yeah, I'll agree it lacked the magic of the first film, but as far as action movies go, it was pretty damn entertaining, though I don't think it should be rated higher than V for Vendetta (though that has more to do with V being underrated by critics in my opinion than Matrix Reloaded being overratted)

Dec 15 - 03:39 AM

King  S.

King Simba

That guy has definetely produced some great action movies. Out of all of these, my favorite would be The Matrix (great blend of action, philosophy, science fiction and even a little bit of horror, all in a classical hero's journey story) closely followed by Die Hard.

Dec 15 - 03:44 AM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

It's hard to appreciate the impact of a movie like "Die Hard", except if you can remember that before it came out, Bruce Willis was just a chubby, smug TV funnyman. Afterward, he became the coolest guy on the planet.

Dec 15 - 04:56 AM

bigbrother

Bigbrother .

LOL, I still remember my older brother squinting at the screen while I was watching it and saying in awed tones "Is that the dude from Moonlighting?"

Dec 15 - 05:43 AM

Manuel G.

Manuel Granados

He and Cybil Shepard did have a lot of chemistry but he was just this super dorky dude who I would have never imagined would end up being THE Bruce Willis. Would be kind of like seeing Christopher Walker for the first time ever in Hairspray and then seeing him be a badass in...well,everything else.

Dec 15 - 11:06 PM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

I didn't like the action sequences in "V". The violence in the book was no-nonsense and brutal. I think the film tried to glam it up a bit, fitting the typical 'young male' demographic need for flash and elaborate fighting. Actually, that's part of the weakness of the "Matrix" movies. I don't usually sit through the entire shootout at the end of the first one. It gets boring to me.

Dec 15 - 05:00 AM

bigbrother

Bigbrother .

Hmmm, I thought they did a wonderful job blending the two styles. If you watch closely V isn't doing anything overly elaborate with his fighting style (He kills like 12 guys in 15 seconds in the showdown at the end) it's just the way it's filmed that makes it look so stylish with the Matrix film tricks and such. I though the brutality was still conveyed especially in the Frye sceen when he gets bagged by Creevy and lets face it, a graphic novel format leaves a lot of room for interpretation.

Dec 15 - 05:49 AM

infernaldude

Infernal Dude

I thought the shootout at the end was fantastic. That scene is pretty much the boilerplate for every action movie that followed The Matrix for the next 10 years. From the lobby to the office to the helicopter to the roof top to the subway to the grimy abandoned building was action gold.

Dec 15 - 02:43 PM

bigbrother

Bigbrother .

LOL, I still remember my older brother squinting at the screen while I was watching it and saying in awed tones "Is that the dude from Moonlighting?"

Dec 15 - 05:43 AM

bigbrother

Bigbrother .

Hmmm, I thought they did a wonderful job blending the two styles. If you watch closely V isn't doing anything overly elaborate with his fighting style (He kills like 12 guys in 15 seconds in the showdown at the end) it's just the way it's filmed that makes it look so stylish with the Matrix film tricks and such. I though the brutality was still conveyed especially in the Frye sceen when he gets bagged by Creevy and lets face it, a graphic novel format leaves a lot of room for interpretation.

Dec 15 - 05:49 AM

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