The Hits and Shits of…Denzel Washington

The Hits and Shits of…Denzel Washington

Written by, produced by, directed by, wardrobe by, sound editing by, starring Denzel Washington. Ok, so he doesn’t do all of these things, but let’s face it, most of the time he just wanders onto set, usually not having gone into hair or make up, wearing his own Hawaiian shirt and khaki pants. The guy looks like he calls the shots. He comes, he spouts a few lines, probably his own, and then pisses off, to get a back rub or something. He has a commanding presence on screen; but I reckon he really is like that. Denzel enters the room and people piss their pants. Ergo he does whatever the hell he wants. Some of what he wants though has resulted in some shitty movies, but also some fine ones. The following is The Hits and Shits of…Mr. Denzel Hayes Washington Jr. Sir!

The Hits

Man On Fire (2004)

Denzel is a washed up grumpy drunken bastard, but he has some skills from when he was in the CIA. Reluctantly he takes a job protecting a little precocious Dakota Fanning from Mexican kidnappers. In my humblest of opinions this was the last good movie that he was in. He found himself in a role where he executed the depth that he finds in his characters, (usually when there is none). He was still himself, but we’ll forgive him because he was kick-ass in this. Although, I’m pretty sure that the running title for this was ‘Denzel On Fire’.

Malcolm X (1992)

Ok, so it’s a biopic. But this was before you could whore yourself out to the Academy by playing an historical figure.  He played the titular character whose life was a troubled one. Petty thief finding Islam in jail and then trying to change a nation, only to get shot, because that’s what happens when you try to do that.  A proud black man (Spike Lee) directing a proud black man playing a proud black man was always gonna get the board’s attention. The gold man deserved. (Plus, no matter how hard he tried, they wouldn’t change the title)

Training Day (2001)

The gold man not deserved, but still a good movie. ‘Denzel Day’ is all about a slightly unhinged cop cleaning up the streets of L.A. in his own way. Along for the ride is the goodie-two-shoes rookie, Ethan Hawke, who has to decide whether Denzel’s way is right or wrong. Ooooh. An unbalanced Washington here is pretty good in this, but the accolades were misplaced for the awards season that year. Thumbs up, anyway.

The Bone Collector (1999)

At this point, I’d like to point out it’s my goddamn list. I know it’s not the best movie in the world, but I like this ‘hunting-down-a-serial killer-who-leaves-clues-and-collects-bones malarkey. Plus, Denzel was a quadriplegic in this, which meant he couldn’t do his usual lean to the side strut down the street like he usually does; you know when it looks like he’s carrying something really heavy in his shirt pocket. You know, like it’s an effort just carrying the weight of his body, but making it look cool. Plus, it would’ve raised a few eyebrows as to whether he was an authentic disabled person. ‘Denzel Undercover’ – like coz he was in a bed n’ all, like all the way through the movie. Ah, shut up!

Déjà vu  (2006)

Yes, mock me all you want, but I like this movie.  Using time and space folding technology, of course, Denzel can go 4 days into the past to prevent a boat from being blown to smithereens. It’s got loads of innocent people on it, but not only does he wanna save those poor bastards, he wants to stop the murder of a murdered woman…because she’s special n’ all. Remember the big D does call the shots. If he wants to save the girl, then he gets to save the girl. No questions. He went back in time to change the title of this to ‘Denza Vu’, but he got caught up on a boat, saving some girl and got blown up. Not really.

The Shits

The Taking of Pelham 123 (2009)

I fell asleep at the end of this movie. I think that Denzel and Johnny Trav were running around outside with guns n’ stuff before the credits rolled. Anyway, he’s an average Joe working for the city’s train system. Travolta is a complete nut job intent on blowing shit up on a train in an attempt to get some dollar in his pocket. Their worlds collide. Duh duh duh. Two actors who can act, in a movie that proves even caliber actors can’t make shit shine. It’s got paycheck movie written all over it. As do most of these on the shit list.

The Book of Eli (2010)

A movie about a lone warrior trudging a post-apocalyptic landscape, kicking ass to protect a sacred book should’ve been good. When you throw Gary Oldman in the mix, it should’ve been better. But it wasn’t. It was religious nonsense, shoving faith down our throats. The book of course is a bible, but I wonder if in the eyes of the lord, it’s ok to kill a ridiculous amount of people over a 30-year period. I think, sometimes, that’s called being a serial killer.

Crimson Tide (1995)

I’ve seen the start of this movie like 7 times. Denzel’s saying goodbye to his wife and kids, it’s raining outside. He’s going on a long trip underwater in his massive ass submarine. We meet Gene Hackman. Aaaaaaand sleep. I’ve fallen asleep in maybe 5 movies ever; two of which just so happen to be the ones Denzel Washington’s in. That’s gotta say something about him and/or his choice of movie. And apparently it’s a big no no for a seaman to up against a sub’s captain, even if he is a wackjob. Now, if you’re gonna break the rules with your subject matter, you go all out, and break dem dere rules, and make something better than the really real world, right?! Not make a film, that’s not only boring as sin, but is also nautically inaccurate.

John Q (2002)

Denzel Q’s son all of a sudden comes down with a slight case of needing a transplant, but his insurance doesn’t cover it. Would do you do? You hold up a hospital, waving a gun around until they do the operation. I get that the writer of this had some beef with the American health system (which does suck), and yes, wouldn’t it be great to go shove your gun in someone’s face when you don’t get what you want, but this doesn’t make for a sympathetic protagonist. I guess this movie is in the shits list for this reason only. You. Have. To. Like. Your. Main. Character. And John Q was a douche.

Safe House (2012)

Ex-CIA Denzel here; and he’s got the 411 on his old employers. But he’s a convict wanted all over the world. And so he’s caught and held in a safe house for all of about 11 minutes. Babysitting him is Ryan Reynolds, but Denzel ain’t having that. He’s suppose to be all menacing and an evil genius n’ stuff, but there was no evil or menace, apart from some eloquent dialogue and annoying smiling. And then he gets shot and proceeds to mumble the rest of his lines for the rest of the film. Dunno whether I’m suppose to like him because he’s good, like him because he’s bad or think he’s just a twat in another paycheck movie. Oh and you can guess who the bad guy is in the first 4 minutes.

A very Heavy Gun


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17 Responses to The Hits and Shits of…Denzel Washington

  1. Filmfella Darren says:

    Well done Lozz – very amusing. You’ve missed the absolutely best Denzel film out though, the film he really should have won an Oscar for and he surely would have if that pesky Kevin Spacey hadn’t popped up with American Beauty, the Denzel film in question being The Hurricane. I’m convinced the Academy only gave him an Oscar two years later for Training day because they felt guilty about over-looking him in The Hurricane for his career best performance. In regards to the shits, it could easily be extended to include, Fallen and that awful Manchurian Candidate remake. I think he is a very limited actor, but he does have a magnetism about him and he gets by on swagger and charisma.

    • Filmfella Lozz says:

      Thanks Mr. Darren. Obviously I have to watch The Hurricane. I haven’t avoided it. Just never got around to watching it. But as you, James and Mark have all pointed out that it’s missing from the hits list, I will endeavor to give it a go. Should he have won over Spacey that year though? I forgot about The Manchurian Candidate remake; that can be an honorary shit.

      • Mark Walker says:

        As good as Denzel is in The Hurricane I don’t think He was Spacey’s main contender for the Oscar that Year. I think Russell Crowe in The Insider was unlucky to miss out. And I totally agree about the Training Day award… What the f**k was all that about?

  2. filmfellajames says:

    Nice blog. I laughed a few times reading that…however…I would like to know your thoughts on the following Denzel films that made me a hardcore Denzel loyalist.

    He got game

    Cry Freedom

    Mo Better Blues

    Philadelphia

    The Hurricane

    And American Gangster. ( next time I see you tho.) (lol).

    P.s I hold no malice for your blog, as your long time compatriot, I can say I could punch you for some of your back slaps in that one, but wouldn’t, nevertheless I think Denzel would like it too. Though you and I both know you probably wouldn’t say it to his face whereas I would relish the opportunity to punch Stephanie Meyer, let alone tell her stuff. I really would! Yo

    • Filmfella Lozz says:

      Right, I’m gonna show myself as someone who obviously shouldn’t have written this blog. Haven’t seen He Got Game, Cry Freedom, Mo Better Blues or The Hurricane. Jim loves this man, no denying. But can anybody else vouch for his choices. Should I give them a watch? Or does Jim just want Denzel’s babies?

  3. Mark Walker says:

    Haha. Great blog. I have to say though, I actually liked Crimson Tide and as Filmfella Darren says, The Hurricane is one of his best. I know it didn’t have a lot of fans but I liked Fallen also. Well, at least the premise (and the actors, Goodman, Gandolfini, Koteas and of course Denzel)

    • Filmfella Lozz says:

      Thanks for reading, Mark. So, I should give Crimson Tide an 8th go? And yes, by the sound of it, I am an awful human being having never watched The Hurricane. My bad.

      • Mark Walker says:

        After so many attempts at Crimson Tide maybe you should give up but I actually found it to be quite tense. Apparently Tarantino done some uncredited rewrites on the script. And yes, it is rather bad that you haven’t seen The Hurricane. Although, if you’ve heard the Bob Dylan song, then you’ll know exactly what happens. Denzel is great in it but Dylan condenses the whole story in a 5min song.

  4. filmfellahenry says:

    Nice blog Lozz, cracked me up. Like Mark, I’d put Crimson Tide in the hits, as I think it’s a decent thriller, though Denzel does yet again play Denzel. As for Training Day… hated that crap. Admittedly I may be biased by the undeserved Oscar issue, but I really did feel his character was a shambles. And not in a good way.

    I’d also chuck Philadelphia in the hits and the incredibly drab American Gangster in the shits.

    Good stuff.

  5. Filmfella Lozz says:

    Denzel is never anybody other than Denzel, except for once upon a time he was some guy called Malcolm. Training Day was alright, man. I considered Philadelphia; but it was really a Tom Hanks showcase. American Gangster very nearly made it into the shits.

  6. Steve says:

    What about Inside Man? nobody has mentioned it. Brilliant film

    • Mark Walker says:

      This is true Steve. The inside Man was a cracker. Being a Shakespeare fan, I also liked Much Ado About Nothing. Washington is hardly in it but a good film and where else would you find him playing the brother of Keanu Reeves? 😉

  7. Curt says:

    Déjà vu in the hits and The Book of Eli in the shits? Id consider reversing those two. Even though Denzel has George Clooney syndrome ( he always plays himself in every film) at least he played a blind Denzel Washington in The Book of Eli. Then again I thought American Gangster was enjoyable, i think i was one of the few people in the world to purchase that movie.

    • Filmfella Lozz says:

      Who came first though; Denzel right? So, maybe George Clooney has The Denz. A terrible illness, only cured by a great character and director who gives you a shot…to establish you again as an actor once more. I think the blind thing in The Book of Eli was suppose to be the surprise ending.

  8. Mark Walker says:

    Another that I really enjoyed was the very underrated Devil In a Blue Dress and I’m astonished that the brilliant Glory, hasn’t been mentioned. I think you may have opened up a can of worms here Lozz 😉

    • filmfellahenry says:

      Yeah, totally forgot about Glory: great film which had a surprisingly competent performance from Broderick too. Good call Mark. I’d definitely add this to the hits.

    • Filmfella Lozz says:

      God dammit, Mark. Yes, Glory should’ve been in the Hits list. Completely forgot about it. I’ve just slapped myself in disgust.

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