Posts Tagged ‘the hurricane’

Top Three Denzel Washington Performances

June 17, 2009

The Taking of Pelham 123 is due to hit the big screens soon, and we’re getting you ready by dedicating a podium to Denzel Washington.

Honourable mentions for this list include; Inside Man, Crimson Tide and American Gangster. And it was very, very tough for me to leave He Got Game off this list as well. Great character, great performance, great flick.  

Denzel Devil in a blue dress

 3. Devil in a Blue Dress – Easy Rawlins

Based on the novel by Walter Mosley (if you haven’t read this book then do yourselves a favor and hit the book store ASAP), Denzel Washington plays the lead character, Easy Rawlins – an out of work  WWII veteran who accepts a job from a shady underworld figure to find a missing woman. The story twists and turns from there, and features undertones of race and class politics, but it is the outstanding performance from Washington that lifts moves this film from within the confines of the well established private eye genre and into one of the best movies of 1995. Don Cheadle is perfect as Easy’s accomplice Mouse, a cold blooded killer with a gift for violence, and the interactions between the two capture to mood of the book perfectly. Easy Rawlins is heroic, flawed, noble and untrustworthy all at the same time – a complex, layered character with a great deal of depth, and Denzel nails the brief perfectly. Not his biggest hit at the box office, but an outstanding performance from Denzel nonetheless.

2. The Hurricane – Rubin Carter

The Hurricane is the story of Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, a professional boxer and middleweight contender, who was wrongly imprisoned for murder in the 1960’s. The heart of the movie however lies in Washington’s enthralling portrayal of one man’s unrelenting courage in the face of oppression, and the fight against injustice that eventually became known to the rest of the world. The movie focuses mainly on the emotional and mental anguish Carter undergoes in jail, and it’s a journey which Washington guides us through with heartfelt aplomb. He is raw and gritty in this, at times bordering on desperate as he tries to keep hope alive in a place completely devoid of the concept. The movie itself may have had its problems with some one dimensional supporting characters and at times comes across as a little corny – but it is a tour de force performance from Washington that keeps it firmly on track, and makes for an engaging film. The look on Washington’s face as his character is sentenced to life in prison was worth the price of admission alone.

1. Malcolm X – Malcolm X

The stand out effort of Washington’s career thus far, in which he plays the title character, Malcolm X, who’s life we follow from his troubled childhood, to small time hustler, to inmate, to religious convert, to spokesperson for the Nation of Islam, to outcast, to figure for change and finally, to victim of assassination. Director Spike Lee operates on a grand scale here in terms of both chronology (the film spans several decades) and length (at an intimidating 200minutes). Washington meanwhile runs the full gamut of character emotions, reckless in his early life; persuasive and confrontational during his period as a political orator, and wizened, deliberate and thoughtful toward the end. In this one film he shows the sort of range most actors don’t manage throughout an entire career, and he is absolutely convincing and believable throughout. An amazing performance – and he was straight up robbed for the best Actor award in the Oscars as well (it went to Al Pacino for Scent of A Woman…right man, wrong time).

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