As the month of Thanks gives way to Christmas cheer, let’s give credit to one of my heroes of film: Joe Carnahan.
Here is how I was planning to start this:
“Joe Carnahan doesn’t set out to make great films.”
Which is complete and utter nonsense. The more I thought about it, the more I came to the realization that Joe Carnahan’s biggest strength as a filmmaker is that he intentionally sets out to make great films-great, fun, exciting and dangerous films. Every time. His safest film(The A-Team) may be a bit unrealistic, but guess what? It’s one of the easiest films to watch. It doesn’t aim to confuse you, but merely entertain the hell out of you. What more could you want from a movie where they steer a tank as it falls from the sky by using it’s turret? That sentence should have secured sequel rights into the next decade. Who doesn’t want to see the promise of Jon Hamm as Lynch 2.0 fulfilled? What world exists where Shartlo Copley isn’t the absolute BEST choice to play Murdock?
This kind of stuff is why Joe Carnahan is a genius filmmaker. Yes. Genius. His casting is impeccable, having really found a way to bring out great performances. Narc is a brutal introduction to Joe Carnahan. When was the last time you heard “Jason Patric was great in that?” It was probably someone talking about Narc. Ray Liotta’s best work that isn’t called Goodfellas? Narc. And it was only the beginning.
In 2006, there weren’t many people who wanted Ben Affleck in their movie. JC was not one of those dummies. He took a chance and we are so, so much better for it. Smokin’ Aces could be some people’s best work. It is Carnahan’s third best. And, it shows off his propensity for crazy. Chris Pine. Dear God, Chris Pine. This film made me fan, and Stretch sealed the deal. You could call them ludicrous, but his performances in these two films are the mark of true greatness. JC pulls such wicked craziness out of Pine, you simply have to sit back, drink it all in and bask in it’s glory. And is it a sight to behold. We should live in a world where Pine is a two-time best supporting actor winner. That we don’t is our loss. It bears mentioning that this film contains Ryan Reynolds best performance, to date, as well.
The Grey is one of the best movies ever made. There. I said it. Sue me. I fully intend on giving a Perfect Film™ write up in the future. If there is a more powerful movie on what it means to be a man who has lost everything, I haven’t seen it. It reaches an emotional depth that is rarely seen in “guy movies.” It cut me to the core the first and 10th and every time since that I’ve watched it and will probably keep doing it until the day I die.
Here’s the thing…Joe Carnahan just seems to understand what we
like love about movies. He has some show called The Blacklist that is only one of the most fun shows on TV, but we don’t like to talk that stuff here, so let’s stick with movies. If you haven’t, you should give his movies a chance. They will surprise you. Everything he’s made has singular devotion to telling the best story in the most riveting way possible.
This year, I am thankful for Joe Carnahan.