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The Good, The Bad & The Badass: Clive Owen

Last time on The Good, The Bad & The Badass , we took a look at the big-screen career of (fictional) super-spy extraordinaire James Bond. This week, we go back to looking at the career of a real person, coincidentally one who came very close to playing 007 at one point...
Clive Owen

I've been a giant Clive Owen fan for fifteen years now. I was lucky enough to catch his turn in Mike Hodges' neo-noir CROUPIER early-on (during it's run on premium cable in 2000) and I knew right then and there that Owen was going to be a force to be reckoned with. That sense was only heightened by his iconic turn on the now-celebrated BMW Films series, “The Hire” where he played a nameless-driver transporting dangerous cargo in a series of shorts directed by heavy-hitters like John Frankenheimer, Ang Lee, Guy Ritchie, John Woo, Tony Scott, Joe Carnahan, Wong Kar Wai, and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu. The series made a big impression during its initial release, to the point that the series was ripped-off wholesale by THE TRANSPORTER, while Owen quickly shot-up to the top of everyone's list as the ideal new James Bond once it was announced Pierce Brosnan wasn't coming back.

While 007 never happened for Owen, his career still went full-steam ahead, with him playing the bad guy in THE BOURNE IDENTITY, and later landing an Oscar nomination for his scene-stealing turn in Mike Nichols' CLOSER. Since then, Owen's career on the big screen has been somewhat hit and miss. While his big-stab at stardom with KING ARTHUR didn't quite work out (it's actually not a bad movie at all), he made the perfect modern noir hero in SIN CITY, with the normally reliable Josh Brolin struggling to fill-in for him in the ill-advised (and far too late) sequel. Certainly he's had his ups and downs since then, with movies like the worthy BLOOD TIES and SHADOW DANCER struggling to find an audience (while turkeys like LAST KNIGHTS went straight-to-VOD), he's still one of the coolest, most talented actors in the biz. And with the right role, I'm still convinced super-stardom could happen for him, although it's more-than-possible that's not something Owen values at all.

His Best Work

CHILDREN OF MEN came out the same year as CASINO ROYALE, and the press was constantly snipping at Owen, saying that he had lost the James Bond role to Daniel Craig, even though it's never been confirmed that he tried out for the part or even wanted it. Whatever the case, if doing CASINO ROYALE would have meant Owen couldn't do CHILDREN OF MEN, in the end I'd say things worked out well. While not a financially successful film, CHILDREN OF MEN is a straight-up masterpiece. I consider it the best film of 2000-2010, and Owen is ideal as the cynical hero who finds his idealism rekindled through his unlikely role as the savior of mankind, being the last pregnant woman on the planet's protector. As much as I like Alfonso Cuaron's work on GRAVITY, this is his masterpiece.

That said, Owen's in the middle of one-heck of a run on Steven Soderbergh's The Knick. As Dr. John Thackery, a hopelessly drug-addicted surgeon working in New York circa 1900, Owen's got a role perfectly tailored to his talents. Owen's at his best when he plays tortured heroes, and certainly the hopeless but brilliant Thackery qualifies. Owen deserves an Emmy for this one – hopefully he'll get his due sooner-or-later.

His Most Overrated Film

As much as I love Clive Owen's work, one of the most disappointing vehicles he's ever been involved in had to be DUPLICITY. While I think Owen was miscast as the George Clooney-style romantic lead opposite Julia Roberts (the two had very little in the way of chemistry), in the end the fault lies with writer-director Tony Gilroy, who tried to make a lighthearted caper movie like TOPKAPI or CHARADE, but ultimately neglected to include any tension whatsoever. The film simply wasn't charming enough to make up for this. OCEAN'S 11 this is not. Critics seemed to like it though, possibly due to goodwill left over from Gilroy's admittedly amazing MICHAEL CLAYTON.

His Most Underrated Film

I was stunned when Michael Davis' SHOOT EM UP came and went without a peep. A heavily-stylized ode to John Woo, Davis' ninety minute thrill-ride was packed with literally non-stop action, as well as a cheeky sense-of-humor which gave the film a truly unique, unconventional, semi-satiric vibe that sadly, went way over-the-heads of the few people who turned out to see it. The silver lining is that SHOOT EM UP has started to pull together a cult following, but it's a shame Davis hasn't been given a chance to make more movies as the guy clearly has a lot of talent. Another underrated Clive Owen flick is I'LL SLEEP WHEN I'M DEAD, Owen and director Mike Hodges' violent and disturbing follow-up to CROUPIER, which, sadly, fared even worse than SHOOT EM UP at the box office.

His Best Scene

Tom Tykwer's THE INTERNATIONAL was only so-so. While Clive Owen was perfect as the rumpled, Interpol agent hero looking to take down a villainous international bank sponsoring terrorism, the movie itself was too draggy. However, there's one absolutely masterful scene that ranks with the finest action sequences of the last ten years – the Guggenheim Museum shootout. Now, even here there's an issue. The shootout is so amazing that everything that follows feels like an anti-climax, and sure enough the film ends on a quiet note of contemplation – which would have been fine if the script had been up-to-snuff. Still, this sequence is bloody brilliant.

His Five Best Films (as a lead)


Up Next

In addition to his ongoing part on The Knick, Owen's recently signed-on to co-star in Luc Besson's massive sci-fi tent-pole actioner VALERIAN opposite Dane DeHaan, Cara Delevigne and Rihanna.

Source: JoBlo.com



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