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The Good, The Bad & The Badass: Ben Affleck

01.09.2017

In our last column, we examined the career of actor Brian Cox. This week’s subject is one of the biggest actor/directors of our era, but a controversial figure to be sure...

 Ben Affleck

ben affleck batman v superman dawn of justice

For some reason, people seem to hold major grudge against Ben Affleck, and around the time his career as a young, twenty-something lead went kaput, people seemed to really wish the guy ill. I never got why. Sure, his time as a tabloid fixture opposite JLo didn’t do him any favors (people just got sick of him), nor did a string of terrible vehicles like SURVIVING CHRISTMAS, PAYCHECK, the infamous GIGLI and more. Even still, given the right role Affleck could be great, as in CHANGING LANES and CHASING AMY, and while many mocked his portrayal of Matt Murdock in DAREDEVIL, I’d say he was perfectly adequate considering the kind of film it was.

ben affleck good will hunting

It had been a quick rise to the top for Affleck, and part of the reason his career went awry early on may be the way people resented his success as a co-writer/co-star of GOOD WILL HUNTING, as if somehow he hadn’t earned it. Of course, Affleck proved all the naysayers wrong big time with his directorial vehicle, GONE BABY, GONE, which proved his bona-fides as a writer-director, with his follow-up, THE TOWN, giving him the ideal opportunity to reinvent himself as a mature actor, which he did, and with ARGO and GONE GIRL minting him as a reborn superstar.

ben affleck argo

Even still, when he got hired to play Batman, people mocked the choice and took pleasure in the scathing reviews the movie earned (unfairly in my opinion), making “Sad Ben” memes, and the like. No wonder he’s wary of the press when people seem out to get him. Hate BATMAN V SUPERMAN all you like, but Affleck’s performance is right-on. A similar thing seems to be happening with LIVE BY NIGHT, a movie WB may have, unwisely, rushed into Oscar-season, when a lower-key release like the successful one they plotted for THE ACCOUNTANT, might have made more sense. Critics have been rough on it, even though it’s an ace-period action flick (read my review). In an era of big tent-pole movies, Affleck uses his clout to make adult dramas which, more often than not, are terrific. And if that’s not bad ass, I don’t know what is.

His Best Work
ben affleck casey affleck gone baby gone

For this, I’m choosing GONE BABY, GONE, even though GOOD WILL HUNTING is the better film. My reasoning is that Affleck didn’t have Matt Damon or Gus Van Sant to lean on, with it likely a particularly tough production as his star was at an all-time low when it was made. Based on Dennis Lehane’s novel, Affleck pumped-out a thought-provoking thriller that also gave his brother, Casey Affleck, one of his first big lead roles. It’s a gem that’s too often overlooked when examining Affleck’s career, and in my mind it’s a mini-masterpiece.

His Most Overrated Work
ben affleck the sum of all fears

I’d argue THE SUM OF ALL FEARS is the true nadir of Affleck’s “young lead” career. While he made far worse movies, his performance as Jack Ryan is abysmal, which is a shame considering how well-made a thriller it is otherwise. Liev Schreiber all but walks away with the movie as Tom Clancy’s John Clark (I wish they’d do a spin-off of the Clancy canon with him), and Affleck seems totally un-engaged. The movie was still a success at the box office, but a Jack Ryan franchise for Affleck was not to be, and to be sure he didn’t earn it (although I think he’d be a good Jack Ryan now). As a side note, I was an extra in this movie and I’m even on-screen! I’m the kid in the middle with the goofy parted-in-the-middle haircut.

chris bumbray the sum of all fears
His Most Underrated Film
ben affleck the company men

John Wells’s THE COMPANY MEN should have been a much bigger deal than it was. A fantastic drama centered around the financial crisis, the movie suffered a bit after being acquired at Sundance in 2010, when the ending was softened a bit to give it a cheerier resolution. Even still, Affleck’s performance as a laid-off white collar boss forced to scale-back his lifestyle and re-prioritize ranks among his best-ever, while Tommy Lee Jones, Kevin Costner and (especially) Chris Cooper are similarly good.

His Best Scene

Outside of GOOD WILL HUNTING and CHASING AMY, the first time I really realized Affleck had chops was in his BOILER ROOM cameo. While it’s imitative of Alec Baldwin’s Mamet-monologue in GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS, it’s still a seriously great, charismatic piece of acting.

His Five Best Films

5. THE TOWN
4. GONE GIRL
3. ARGO
2. GONE BABY, GONE
1. GOOD WILL HUNTING

Up Next

Affleck’s probably going to be playing Batman for quite awhile, with JUSTICE LEAGUE due out in November, and theoretically THE BATMAN (which he should be directing) out sometime in 2018. Hopefully he’ll squeeze in some non-DC parts as well, as he’s too good to stick to one thing only.

 

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Source: JoBlo.com

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9:26AM on 01/10/2017
Badass indeed. I think he learnt a lot from Gigli and he's been improving ever since. As far as acting goes, I like his Matt Murdock / Daredevil portrayal whereas the Director's Cut gives him more justice than theatrical one. For directing gig, Argo is his best work. If nothing changes, I really want to know how his Batman-directed movie will be.
Badass indeed. I think he learnt a lot from Gigli and he's been improving ever since. As far as acting goes, I like his Matt Murdock / Daredevil portrayal whereas the Director's Cut gives him more justice than theatrical one. For directing gig, Argo is his best work. If nothing changes, I really want to know how his Batman-directed movie will be.
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1:54PM on 01/09/2017

Overrated?

If I had a nickel for every time someone told me how great Sum of All Fears was, (or even mentioned it anyone after 2003) I'd have one nickel.

As for underrated, I would have went with Jersey Girl. Company Men was a good call though.

I do like that Boiler Room is getting some love. That movie is tight.

If I had a nickel for every time someone told me how great Sum of All Fears was, (or even mentioned it anyone after 2003) I'd have one nickel.

As for underrated, I would have went with Jersey Girl. Company Men was a good call though.

I do like that Boiler Room is getting some love. That movie is tight.

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5:58AM on 01/10/2017
I think that's what Chris was trying to say: None of his movies really fit the bill, so SUM OF ALL FEARS is the closest thing he has to an overrated movie.
I think that's what Chris was trying to say: None of his movies really fit the bill, so SUM OF ALL FEARS is the closest thing he has to an overrated movie.
1:14PM on 01/09/2017
Affleck, you the *bomb* in Phantoms yo!
Affleck, you the *bomb* in Phantoms yo!
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12:29PM on 01/09/2017
Dude deserves this. I found his career in the early oughts to be infuriating at best. I knew he had talent. Dazed and Confused, Kevin Smith, Good Will Hunting and Boiler Room proved that. And occasionally he'd demonstrate something on SNL (ever see his James Carville impersonation?), but for a time it seemed Affleck was playing things safe. Between his later performances in movies like Hollywoodland and Extract, and his decidedly mature directing choices, he's clearly interested in complex
Dude deserves this. I found his career in the early oughts to be infuriating at best. I knew he had talent. Dazed and Confused, Kevin Smith, Good Will Hunting and Boiler Room proved that. And occasionally he'd demonstrate something on SNL (ever see his James Carville impersonation?), but for a time it seemed Affleck was playing things safe. Between his later performances in movies like Hollywoodland and Extract, and his decidedly mature directing choices, he's clearly interested in complex stories and characters, but perhaps he was afraid before, or didn't want to get in the way of his buddy Matt Damon's meteoric rise. There used to be jokes about how Damon wrote Good Will Hunting and just let Affleck share credit on the script. Affleck has since proven to be a talented screenwriter in his own right, so it's nice to finally put that rumor to rest.
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-2
11:42AM on 01/09/2017
RUNNER RUNNER - 0/10
GIGLI - 1/10
PEARL HARBOR; SMOKIN' ACES - 3/10
DAREDEVIL; THE SUM OF ALL FEARS; THE TOWN - 4/10
THE ACCOUNTANT; ARMAGEDDON; JOSEPH: KING OF DREAMS; MAN ABOUT TOWN; PAYCHECK - 5/10
BATMAN V SUPERMAN; EXTRACT; GONE BABY GONE - 6/10
ARGO; HE'S JUST NOT THAT INTO YOU; SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE - 7/10
DAZED AND CONFUSED; GOOD WILL HUNTING - 8/10
GONE GIRL - 9/10
SURVIVING CHRISTMAS - Best bad movie

Best scenes:
-FRED O'BANNION threatens MITCH KRAMER outside his house...
RUNNER RUNNER - 0/10
GIGLI - 1/10
PEARL HARBOR; SMOKIN' ACES - 3/10
DAREDEVIL; THE SUM OF ALL FEARS; THE TOWN - 4/10
THE ACCOUNTANT; ARMAGEDDON; JOSEPH: KING OF DREAMS; MAN ABOUT TOWN; PAYCHECK - 5/10
BATMAN V SUPERMAN; EXTRACT; GONE BABY GONE - 6/10
ARGO; HE'S JUST NOT THAT INTO YOU; SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE - 7/10
DAZED AND CONFUSED; GOOD WILL HUNTING - 8/10
GONE GIRL - 9/10
SURVIVING CHRISTMAS - Best bad movie

Best scenes:
-FRED O'BANNION threatens MITCH KRAMER outside his house... and then his mother comes out.
-CHUCKIE SULLIVAN tells WILL HUNTING why he owns him to become "someone in life."
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4:54PM on 01/09/2017
How you give The Sum of All Fears and The Town the same score is truly one of the mysteries of the universe.
How you give The Sum of All Fears and The Town the same score is truly one of the mysteries of the universe.
5:53AM on 01/10/2017
I don't compare movies of different genres.
I don't compare movies of different genres.
11:15AM on 01/09/2017
Have always been a huge fan of Affleck despite the bad run of films he's had in the past and other than Downey and Keaton, his comeback story has been a fun one to watch.

Affleck has really matured in the last couple of years and it has really showed through his last couple of films; especially his directorial films which has lead to his biggest success. And because of that he's also become of the best, dedicated, and exciting directors working today. He's always seemed like a good guy who
Have always been a huge fan of Affleck despite the bad run of films he's had in the past and other than Downey and Keaton, his comeback story has been a fun one to watch.

Affleck has really matured in the last couple of years and it has really showed through his last couple of films; especially his directorial films which has lead to his biggest success. And because of that he's also become of the best, dedicated, and exciting directors working today. He's always seemed like a good guy who cares about his craft and it's just great to see him in a good place in his career where he has the power and freedom to pick his own projects and to even direct himself in his own films. And I consider Gone Baby Gone, The Town, and Argo all exceptional films and to be three of some of the best films to come out in the last decade. I also think he's easily the best live action Bruce Wayne/Batman we've had to date as well and based off his past four directorial films, I also think he has the potential in directing the best Batman film thus far as well.
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10:16AM on 01/09/2017

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My last pay check was $8500 working 1o hours a week online. My younger brother friend has been averaging 12k for months now and he works about 22 hours a week. I cant believe how easy it was once I tried it out.

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