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The Good, The Bad & The Badass: Colin Farrell

08.01.2016
Last week, we took a look at the career of actor Ethan Hawke. This week’s subject is another star who’s managed to navigate the tricky jump from heartthrob to character actor/leading man...
Colin Farrell
colin farrell the recruit

Hype is a dangerous thing. When the Hollywood taste-makers or the media prematurely crown a hot young celeb the new king or queen of Tinseltown, they’re almost inevitably going to wind up knocked from their perch. Usually, this happens thanks to overexposure, after which time they’re replaced by some other hot young thing. If their talent is real, they’ll usually come back. It’s happened for Ben Affleck and it’s also happened for the “it” star who “replaced” him in the mid-2000’s (around the time they both made DAREDEVIL) - Colin Farrell.

colin farrell minority report

Following a turn in Joel Schumacher’s barely-seen TIGERLAND, Hollywood kingmakers got very hot on Farrell, to the extent that within a year he was leading his own studio action movie, the abysmal AMERICAN OUTLAWS, followed-by PHONE BOOTH and HART’S WAR in quick succession. None of these movies were successful, but a juicy supporting part as the sympathetic antagonist in Steven Spielberg’s MINORITY REPORT launched him into the stratosphere. Within a year, Farrell would be going toe-to-toe with Al Pacino in THE RECRUIT, and headline his first $100 million grossing movie, S.W.A.T.

colin farrell the new world

From there, Farrell was everywhere, with tabloids delighting in his bad-boy antics. It didn’t take long for audiences to get sick of him, and immediately following S.W.A.T he had a string of box-office disasters, including the mega-budget ALEXANDER and MIAMI VICE. Despite this, Farrell’s career went on, mostly due to the fact that even if the movies weren’t hits, no one could fault Farrell’s performances. Also important – despite his bad-boy antics Farrell was known to be a total professional on-set and directors have often been keen to re-use him.

colin farrell brendan gleeson in bruges

While he’s yet to really recapture his former glory, one could say that Farrell’s actually come-out ahead as he’s finally out from under the tabloid microscope, and is continuing to deliver stand-out work even if some of the projects are below him, such as the ill-advised TOTAL RECALL remake (although the FRIGHT NIGHT one wasn’t bad). While he’s had a couple of duds here and there (WINTER’S TALE) Farrell is capable of disappearing into a role with the best of them, and movies like THE LOBSTER prove his versatility and incredible talent.

His Best Work
colin farrell jamie foxx miami vice

The critical reaction to MIAMI VICE has always driven me crazy, specifically those who complained Michael Mann’s big-screen film version of MIAMI VICE was nothing like the TV show. People who said that obviously never watched the show as the movie was exactly like it thematically, just minus the pastels and eighties pop music. The movie was actually a remake of the episode “Smuggler’s Blues” and Farrell more than did justice to original star Don Johnson in his portrayal of undercover cop Sonny Crockett. Mann’s movie, like the show, is less concerned with narrative drive and more with a sense of mood, emphasizing the doomed relationship between Sonny and Gong Li’s Isabella, while Jamie Foxx takes something of a backseat as Tubbs. This actually may have hurt the film as Foxx, at the time, was riding a massive wave of popularity following his Oscar win for RAY so people probably expected more from him than playing second banana to Farrell. To me, it would have been impossible for Mann to have done a better reboot of Vice than he did here, but the fact that he dared challenge audiences meant that the movie could never recoup its massive budget (mostly spent on dangerous location photography) and killed any chance of this turning into a major franchise for grown-ups. In a perfect world, Farrell, Foxx and Mann would resurrect this as a HBO series, as that format would probably serve what they were trying to do here the best.

His Most Overrated Film
colin farrell samuel l jackson swat

While S.W.A.T remains one of Farrell’s most financially successful movies, it has not aged well. A remake of the old seventies TV series, Farrell stars as S.W.A.T team point-man Jim Street, while Samuel L. Jackson plays his boss, Hondo. Producer Neal H. Moritz was clearly interested in making this a FAST & FURIOUS-style series (before that series actually got good when Justin Lin came on-board) meaning it had a loud, obnoxious soundtrack, a super young cast (with a young Jeremy Renner unconvincing as the bad guy) and very little action, with most of the movie devoted to training and assembling the team. All-in-all it was a very boring movie, and while it made money I don’t think I’ve ever actually met anyone who liked it. Watching it now, it seems like just another clone of THE FAST & THE FURIOUS, no better than something like BIKER BOYZ or TORQUE.

His Most Underrated Work
colin farrell true detective

Colin Farrell has done a lot of underrated stuff, and in the interests of being controversial, my choice for his most underrated turn is the much maligned True Detective season two. Now, I get why people don’t like the season and while I enjoyed it more than most, it had some major problems. Most of that - however – came down to the writing. The acting was consistently good, particularly from Farrell, who’s tragic anti-hero anchored the show. It’s a shame so many people tuned-out after the first few episodes because Farrell’s performance in the finale was spectacular. His corrupt but ultimately heroic Ray Velcoro is probably one of his best-ever roles, but nobody really appreciated it. Oh well.

His Best Scene

It was tough deciding between IN BRUGES and MIAMI VICE for best film, but given how many times I’ve revisited it over the years, I had to give the edge to Michael Mann’s movie. That said, Martin McDonagh’s IN BRUGES is a masterpiece in its own right, and Farrell is mesmerizing as hit-man plagued by the accidental shooting of a child in a hit gone wrong. If by chance you haven’t seen this, it may surprise you to learn that despite that grim description, IN BRUGES is a comedy and a damn funny one at that. Farrell’s drunken encounter with a little person from America is one of the great highlights of a perfect little movie.

His Five Best Films

5. THE LOBSTER
4. CASSANDRA’S DREAM
3. THE NEW WORLD
2. IN BRUGES
1. MIAMI VICE

Up Next

Farrell’s got a big part coming-up in FANTASTIC BEASTS & WHERE TO FIND THEM, Warner Bros’s attempt to continue the Harry Potter franchise with J.K Rowling, in addition to a re-teaming with THE LOBSTER director Yorgos Lanthimos in THE KILLING OF A SCARED DEER. Farrell’s also the rumored lead for Sofia Coppola’s remake of THE BEGUILED, which would see him take-on the Clint Eastwood part.

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Source: JoBlo.com

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10:35PM on 08/01/2016
Dead Man Down is another gem.
Dead Man Down is another gem.
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7:31PM on 08/01/2016
One of my favorite projects that he's ever done is his guest appearance on Scrubs. It's one of my all time favorite shows and it was so cool to see him make in an episode.

But the man is one of the best character actors working today. I think he's boring as hell when it comes to action films (except SWAT), but think he's brilliant in dramas. He was easily my favorite part about True Detective Season Two and think he gave McConaughey a run for his money in best character performance.
One of my favorite projects that he's ever done is his guest appearance on Scrubs. It's one of my all time favorite shows and it was so cool to see him make in an episode.

But the man is one of the best character actors working today. I think he's boring as hell when it comes to action films (except SWAT), but think he's brilliant in dramas. He was easily my favorite part about True Detective Season Two and think he gave McConaughey a run for his money in best character performance.
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7:10PM on 08/01/2016
Farrell is extremely dull as a leading man in action films, which is why a lot of those (like SWAT, Recruit, Total Recall, etc.) are his weakest films. But the man is great at drama, comedy, and even a villain.
Also, I probably watched this guy in about 10 films before ever knowing he was Irish. Me and my roommate were completely shocked when we were watching a talk show and he was talking with an Irish accent. Can't think of too many other times that has happened with actors.
Farrell is extremely dull as a leading man in action films, which is why a lot of those (like SWAT, Recruit, Total Recall, etc.) are his weakest films. But the man is great at drama, comedy, and even a villain.
Also, I probably watched this guy in about 10 films before ever knowing he was Irish. Me and my roommate were completely shocked when we were watching a talk show and he was talking with an Irish accent. Can't think of too many other times that has happened with actors.
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4:58PM on 08/01/2016

Best scene ever

Colin Farrell's best scene, from one of his best roles, in one of the most underrated movies of all time, is the opening scene from the Irish film, Internission. Greatest opening scene to a movie ever. Hands down. Period. Watch it.

[link]
Colin Farrell's best scene, from one of his best roles, in one of the most underrated movies of all time, is the opening scene from the Irish film, Internission. Greatest opening scene to a movie ever. Hands down. Period. Watch it.

[link]
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5:01PM on 08/01/2016
P.S. This movie also featured Colm Meaney and Cillian Murphy.
P.S. This movie also featured Colm Meaney and Cillian Murphy.
6:19PM on 08/01/2016
I might just have to agree with you.
I might just have to agree with you.
3:49PM on 08/01/2016
Also, there are so many great quotes from In Bruges...and Brendon Gleeson is the man too!

"Midgets! They're filming midgets!"
Also, there are so many great quotes from In Bruges...and Brendon Gleeson is the man too!

"Midgets! They're filming midgets!"
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3:24PM on 08/01/2016
Colin Farrell has been my favorite actor since he came on to the scene with Tigerland. I hated that Hollywood had him pegged as the next it boy. He may not always have had the greatest filmography, but he isn't afraid to take challenges. I'd love to see him and Tom Hardy chew it up on the screen one day. I honestly think his best days are still yet to come...
Colin Farrell has been my favorite actor since he came on to the scene with Tigerland. I hated that Hollywood had him pegged as the next it boy. He may not always have had the greatest filmography, but he isn't afraid to take challenges. I'd love to see him and Tom Hardy chew it up on the screen one day. I honestly think his best days are still yet to come...
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3:05PM on 08/01/2016

Do your fucking research

Phone Booth had a tiny budget and made 5 times what they spent. It was a success.
Phone Booth had a tiny budget and made 5 times what they spent. It was a success.
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2:50PM on 08/01/2016
He made me cry in SAVING MR BANKS. I loved Phone Booth too.
He made me cry in SAVING MR BANKS. I loved Phone Booth too.
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3:25PM on 08/01/2016
I haven't seen that one yet...
I haven't seen that one yet...
2:08PM on 08/01/2016

Miami Vice

Yes Yes YES! This movie gets such a bad rap but it is underrated and completely friggin AWESOME!
Yes Yes YES! This movie gets such a bad rap but it is underrated and completely friggin AWESOME!
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3:28PM on 08/01/2016
Miami Vice imho was basically the "sequel", "follow up", "modern day" version of Heat. Very serious in tone and I thought Colin and Fox played very well off one another.
Miami Vice imho was basically the "sequel", "follow up", "modern day" version of Heat. Very serious in tone and I thought Colin and Fox played very well off one another.
10:20PM on 08/03/2016
100% Agreed. for me his trilogy of Heat/Collateral/Miami Vice are his masterpiece trilogy.
100% Agreed. for me his trilogy of Heat/Collateral/Miami Vice are his masterpiece trilogy.
-2
1:50PM on 08/01/2016

Miami Vice?

I know it's subjective, and I believe Chris liked Miami Vice, but for me, it is a very bad movie. I know the original series, and it may not be the best of cop-shows out there, but it had a charm and humor which the movie was lacking of. The story wasn't about Foxx, but it wasn't about Farrell either. They had lines, storylines, several scenes, yet the movie is not about them. And the action scenes were bad. And I'm saying this as a big fan of Mann's Collateral - a movie which had a better
I know it's subjective, and I believe Chris liked Miami Vice, but for me, it is a very bad movie. I know the original series, and it may not be the best of cop-shows out there, but it had a charm and humor which the movie was lacking of. The story wasn't about Foxx, but it wasn't about Farrell either. They had lines, storylines, several scenes, yet the movie is not about them. And the action scenes were bad. And I'm saying this as a big fan of Mann's Collateral - a movie which had a better story, better characters, and had a perfect gritty mood with some sense of art. Unlike Miami Vice.
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1:27PM on 08/01/2016
CF is the man. He is a great actor and I always dig his films. And yes, My name is Jason and I also enjoy swat. I'll admit that this came out when I was in middle school so much of my adolescence was spent watch films like Swat and 2 fast 2 furious. I'd say an underrated role is when he played the alcoholic dad in Saving Mr. Banks. Favorite would be In Bruges..
CF is the man. He is a great actor and I always dig his films. And yes, My name is Jason and I also enjoy swat. I'll admit that this came out when I was in middle school so much of my adolescence was spent watch films like Swat and 2 fast 2 furious. I'd say an underrated role is when he played the alcoholic dad in Saving Mr. Banks. Favorite would be In Bruges..
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12:38PM on 08/01/2016

Regarding SWAT

I just wanted to say, "Hello Chris, my name is Norm and I am a fan of S.W.A.T." I it is not the greatest movie ever made, but I find it a fun way to pass a lazy afternoon on a rainy day, and I have watched it a number of times. The rest of this article is right on target though.
I just wanted to say, "Hello Chris, my name is Norm and I am a fan of S.W.A.T." I it is not the greatest movie ever made, but I find it a fun way to pass a lazy afternoon on a rainy day, and I have watched it a number of times. The rest of this article is right on target though.
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12:16PM on 08/01/2016

He has better films

I agree he's a great actor but you have to shed more light on The New World which I consider to be Terrence Malick's masterpiece. Also The way back was phenomenal and phone both was a fascinating movie considering they shot it in roughly 10 days and it only involves a guy talking on a phone... and no seven phychopaths? Cassandra's Dream??
I agree he's a great actor but you have to shed more light on The New World which I consider to be Terrence Malick's masterpiece. Also The way back was phenomenal and phone both was a fascinating movie considering they shot it in roughly 10 days and it only involves a guy talking on a phone... and no seven phychopaths? Cassandra's Dream??
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1:12PM on 08/01/2016
Cassandra's Dream made #4 on his list.
Cassandra's Dream made #4 on his list.
11:39AM on 08/01/2016
I've always liked Colin Farrell. I first found out about him second-hand from my sister, who'd seen Tigerland and was smitten (I didn't see that movie until after his indie-comeback, but it's no wonder people saw something in him then, and the movie is arguably the best thing Joel Schumacher's done since Falling Down). For me, Minority Report aside, his best early work was an Irish comedy called Intermission.I remember getting pumped leading up to Alexander, and subsequently getting cold feet
I've always liked Colin Farrell. I first found out about him second-hand from my sister, who'd seen Tigerland and was smitten (I didn't see that movie until after his indie-comeback, but it's no wonder people saw something in him then, and the movie is arguably the best thing Joel Schumacher's done since Falling Down). For me, Minority Report aside, his best early work was an Irish comedy called Intermission.I remember getting pumped leading up to Alexander, and subsequently getting cold feet when the horrible reviews came in, so I've yet to see that one.

Miami Vice may be a good "Miami Vice" movie, but I thought, for a Michael Mann movie it was a little overstuffed. I haven't seen the TV episode it's based on, but I felt like there were too many characters with backstories we just don't get. However, certain sequences like the scene in the White Supremacist trailer, and John Ortiz's bad guy, stand out, but unlike Thief, Manhunter, Heat, or Collateral, Miami Vice is too busy with the plot and assumes we know the characters. That said, it's probably the closest a TV adaptation has come to classics like The Untouchables and The Fugitive.

For me, In Bruges is the best Colin Farrell has been. That, Seven Psychopaths, and his scene-stealing turn in Horrible Bosses have really highlighted his comedic abilities, and traded humorously on his bout with drug addiction. He's so self-deprecating now I can hardly believe this was the same heartthrob who starred in mediocre action faire like The Recruit and SWAT. He is also, in my opinion, one of the best actors working today, with an emotional range many actors wish they could have.
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+2
11:24AM on 08/01/2016
Nice one. However I would say his most underrated Gem is "The way back" as an Gulag escapee in 1941 alongside Ed Harris (another one for this column). Pretty good Performance, worth a watch.
Nice one. However I would say his most underrated Gem is "The way back" as an Gulag escapee in 1941 alongside Ed Harris (another one for this column). Pretty good Performance, worth a watch.
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11:41AM on 08/01/2016
I often forget about that movie. You're right, he's excellent.
I often forget about that movie. You're right, he's excellent.
3:40PM on 08/01/2016
Very underrated...The Way Back was awesome...
Very underrated...The Way Back was awesome...
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