5 Roles of Ben Affleck that don't suck
Writer: Casey Lee
Which is your favourite Ben Affleck role?
Since his breakout in 1997 after his appearance in "Chasing Amy" and "Good Will Hunting", Ben Affleck's career as an actor has been one of the most watched of his generation, and it has had its moments. From upcoming actor in major blockbusters, diving down to some poor decisions in his career and life, to establishing himself as a force behind the camera, Affleck's name is now one of the most talked about in the industry of late.
Say what you will about Ben's performance as the Batfleck in "Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice", but it has certainly put him back to the acting radar, and we can only see him taking back his acting strides with later roles in "The Accountant".
With "The Accountant" possibly becoming the title that finally marks Affleck's 'return to form' as the bankable star he once was, here are five other roles done by Ben Affleck that didn't suck as bad as we remembered.
Holden McNeil in "Chasing Amy" (1997)
To remember why Ben Affleck was once a bright star, is to start from the beginning. Despite entering the acting business since he was 8, Ben Affleck truly came to being in the 1997 indie love dramedy "Chasing Amy" by director Kevin Smith. As a comic artist, Holden McNeil, who at first has naive standards of love and sex, comes to meet Allysa; a self-proclaimed lesbian.
Their tumultuous relationship breaks down McNeil's holding on to the cliché definitions of a 'normal couple', only to find out that love is an often serious but messy business when Allysa's previous sexual exploits come to light. Ben Affleck came into the role as suitably naive, but one that eventually matures into realisation; a progression on screen that shows the young actor has range for some serious fare. Of course, it shouldn't be discounted that 1997 was more than just a breakthrough year for Affleck as an actor, with him appearing in his co-written work with best bud Matt Damon in "Good Will Hunting". His role there while small, is one that we wished we had if growing up in a hard blue-collared life, and seeing the best part of his day by finding an empty home makes us want to give ourselves a fist pump.
George Reeves in "Hollywoodland" (2006)
Ben Affleck has long been called into the world of superheroes before they were the craze. It was after all the reason why his detractors had little faith for him to be the Batfleck when it was initially announced. But not only has he personified as the Devil of Hell's Kitchen in the abysmal "Daredevil" of 2003, Affleck had also wore the red capes of the more beloved Superman. Well, sort of, in 2006's "Hollywodland".In the fictionalised retelling of the murder mystery of actor George Reeves, who played as the iconic superhero throughout the television series in the 1950s, Affleck serves as a stand-in for the real Reeves, whose supposed suicide is being investigated by a private investigator played by Adrien Brody.
After coming down from the crash of his career when he mixed his relationship with Jennifer Lopez with his career (that gave us "Gigli, one of the lowest points of his performances), "Hollywoodland" is often credited as his resurgence as an actor before disappearing. In some ways, "Hollywood" would seem like an ironic parallel to what Affleck was going through in his career at the time, being stuck in a terrible limbo for bad outings after bad outings, and eventually cornered to do the unspeakable. But in "Hollywoodland", it brought out a side of Affleck that was forgotten since "Armageddon" and "Pearl Harbour"; that underneath that charismatic charm is a serious actor capable of managing a man with broken emotions as Reeves.
Doug MacRay in "The Town" (2010)
Disappearing from the front of the camera after "Hollywoodland", Affleck took a change in gears to be calling shots behind it as a producer, director and screenwriter, which he has proven to be more than adept with his screenwriting Oscar for "Good Will Hunting". "Gone Baby Gone" was a revelation to those who hadn't known about his off-screen talents, but he really went to "The Town" with them in his next off-screen outing.
Writing, directing and even starring as the band leader to a gang of bank robbers from the titular Charlestown, it was already too much to ask from any other actor before expecting it to collapse under its own weight on one person, but Affleck carried those responsibilities to create not only a functional movie, but packing it with a stronger punch than "Gone Baby Gone". Though Jeremy Renner was given the heavy lifting to steal the show, Doug MacRay is still a compelling character that needed steady and nuanced control to pull off. While we don't know if director Affleck was distracted by the camera position when saying his tough lines as actor Affleck, he made it looked easy and it still works on many levels.
Tony Mendez in "Argo" (2012)
Adapting from stories of the unconventional hostage rescue of the American embassy staff after the Iranian revolution, exfiltration expert Tony Mendez is tasked to rescue the trapped embassy staff with a fake cover of a Hollywood production being shot in Tehran. Weaving between the silly notion of using a fake Hollywood movie, and training his 'crew' to adopt their Hollywood identities, Affleck wears the beard as a confident, no nonsense hard-hitter who does whatever it takes to get the job done. Fiercely a more animated role than the others mentioned here, but together with his performance is his pulsating pace in the directing that keep "Argo" beating.
With a larger budget, a stronger cast and a more complex story to tell, "The Town" felt more like a practice round to make "Argo". In more ways than one, "Argo" seemed like the culmination of all the good things Affleck has done right up to making "Argo". Playing as a real person. Checked. Do directing duties. Checked. Win an Oscar. Checked. Deliver a performance that stands on its own. Checked and done with in the presence of a cast that has Bryan Cranston, Alan Arkin and John Goodman. "Argo" is not only another strong performance from Affleck, but the swan song to his achievements both on and off the screen.
Nick Dunne in "Gone Girl" (2014)
After reaching the pinnacle as a filmmaker with an Oscar recognition for Best Picture, Affleck started going back into the acting game and straight into serious business. Being an actor for a David Fincher film can be a daunting challenge for any less experienced actor, but it was one that Affleck needed to re-establish any acting credibility he had lost. Although the show belonged to Rosamund Pike, Affleck's unsuspecting Nick Dunne was still needed to be a foil to match with the complexity of Pike's Amy. Affleck brings a transformation of Nick from suspicious victim, masked performer, to perfect husband that requires a piling of layer after layer as a character and a performer, and there are some pretty high standards to meet when playing in the game that Amy had set up for him.
Cinema Online, 09 October 2016