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The Best and Worst of Mark Wahlberg

Nathan is a film critic and aspiring author with a true passion for the film industry who hopes his writings will help launch his career.


Actor Mark Wahlberg

Mark Wahlberg has come a long way in his life. He started as a punk and has now become one of the most well-known names in Hollywood. He may be an action and drama superstar, but that doesn't necessarily mean he hasn't had some bad films. Below I have listed the 5 best and 5 worst films of Mark's career. As always, I have included a complete filmography with my ratings of each film.

Here are 5 films containing his best work:

  1. Deepwater Horizon (2016)
  2. The Fighter (2010)
  3. Lone Survivor (2013)
  4. Patriots Day (2016)
  5. Boogie Nights (1997)

And here are five films containing his worst work:

  1. The Big Hit (1998)
  2. The Truth About Charlie (2002)
  3. The Happening (2008)
  4. Contraband (2012)
  5. Broken City (2013)

Best #1: Deepwater Horizon

Deepwater Horizon follows the true story of the explosion of the oil rig and the problems which led up to that point. The disaster caused the deaths of 11 people and also caused one of the biggest oil spills in history. How did the movie itself hold up? Trust me, it perfectly held its own.

Mark Wahlberg led an awesome cast which included such stars as Kurt Russell, John Malkovich, Dylan O'Brien, and Kate Hudson. Everyone pulled their own weight and really dug deep in order to give the best performances they could. Director Peter Berg (who previously worked with Wahlberg in Lone Survivor), did an excellent job making sure every incident, every death, every moment, and every prop looked as realistic as possible. Matthew Carnahan and Matthew Sand wrote one amazing screenplay, divulging the information necessary so we as an audience would understand just what happened, even if you don't remember the actual incident reports. It was an especially nice touch for Berg to include actual footage and updates of the survivors during the credits.

Could the explosion have been prevented? Yes, it could have. During the court proceedings, which weren't in the film, it was discovered that there were several issues with regulations and disregard for safety measures by the higher-ups. There were mistakes made in the heat of the moment as well, which is shown in the film. Here is the website detailing all the issues if you wish to know more:

In conclusion, the film dealt closely with the events, the trauma, and the effects it had on the survivors. I give this film a 4 out of 4 with a high recommendation to see it in theaters. It's emotional, intense, and full of heart-wrenching moments that will make even the toughest people shed tears.


Best #2: The Fighter

The Fighter is the true story of Micky Ward as he rises from amateur boxer to a true legend. The film doesn't just focus on the boxing, however. It keeps the focus on Micky's personal life and really gives the audience an emotional story and a reason to root for Micky. The film gets a 4 out of 4.


Best #3: Lone Survivor

The gripping true story of Operation Red Wings is not for the faint of heart...or for the weak of stomach, for that matter. Marcus Luttrell and his team went into Afghanistan on a mission to capture a known highly dangerous terrorist. The mission seemed to be going as planned until something completely random happens. A herd of goats along with the herder and his two kids are wandering the mountain and stumble upon the Navy SEALs team. After much debate, they decide to let the man and the kids go, then fall back for extraction. The herder and the youngest child were both grateful, but the eldest child was filled with too much hatred. He ran to the very terrorist the SEALs were hunting. What followed was an impossible situation, one that would shatter so many lives.
If you haven't read the book, I certainly recommend it. There's so much information about the military's rules and the vigorous training the SEALs undergo. But, to see marcus Luttrell's words about the actual mission that killed his team is absolutely haunting. I can't imagine what Marcus goes through mentally day in and day out because of this.
In conclusion, the film will render you speechless and shocked, but the book will surprise, inform, and haunt you. The only issue I had with the film is that it felt like director Peter Berg put in a bunch of "fu--" words just because he could. I normally don't have a problem with language, but this seemed excessive to me. I still gave the film a 3.5 out of 4 because the meaning most definitely outweighs the language.

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Best #4: Patriots Day

Patriots Day is yet another masterpiece from director Peter Berg who once again pairs up with Mark Wahlberg to tell the story of the Boston Marathon Bombing in 2013. The intensity builds up perfectly even from the opening scene and keeps you on edge the whole time.

The film opens with Tommy Saunders, played by Mark Wahlberg, responding to a call for a domestic disturbance. He injures his leg kicking in the door which, adding on his previous suspension from the force, puts him on guard duty at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. He thinks that's an embarrassing assignment but follows his orders and reports to his station. That's when everything goes wrong. Two bombs went off on the sidelines of the race, killing 3 and injuring at least 264 others, some even needing amputations and other life-or-death surgeries. The FBI is soon brought in to investigate alongside the Boston Police Department. What then followed was one of the most intense manhunts in history.

The directing was remarkable. There were times when you wanted to scream at the screen or warn officers of upcoming danger. Director Peter Berg did an astounding job at putting the audience in the center of it all, making you feel like you were right there alongside Tommy and the others trying to catch these bombers.

The acting was intensely emotional, some scenes hard to watch, some even unbearable, others humorous and tension-easing. Mark Wahlberg has come a long way in his career and continues to get better and better with each performance.

In conclusion, I wholeheartedly loved and enjoyed this film. In some ways, it opened my eyes and in other ways it helped me understand what went on behind the scenes. The only issue I had was that there was very little lead up. Within 30 minutes, the bombs go off which doesn't give you a lot of time to get attached to the characters who are about to come face to face with death and loss. Other than that, the film was perfect. I give it a 3.5 out of 4.


Best #5: Boogie Nights

Boogie Nights is a gritty and disturbingly realistic depiction of just what the life of porn stars is like. I know, many of you are probably gasping and cringing, but it's not what you might think. The film covers many events that people might not have thought could happen to a porn star. All people see are what's shown on-screen. They don't understand what goes on behind the scenes, and just how much torment some go through. I give the film a 3.5 out of 4.


The "Worst" section actually lives up to its name this time. These selections range from horrible to below average, but thankfully they didn't slow Mark down. Here are my picks for the worst of Mark Wahlberg.


Worst #1: The Big Hit

The Big Hit had a fun concept. It was the story of a skilled hitman who falls in love with his kidnapping victim, making his life and his job far more complicated than he ever expected. The film's problem is that it can never decide whether it wants to be a deep dramatic tale or a screwball comedy. It's clunky and falls flat on its face. The film gets a 1 out of 4.


Worst #2: The Truth About Charlie

This film is proof that sometimes you just shouldn't remake classics. The Truth About Charlie reimagines the original Audrey Hepburn film Charade, updating it for modern times. Thandie Newton and Mark Wahlberg have good chemistry together and would make a great duo in a better film, but these two are certainly no Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn. Wahlberg and Newton do the best they can with the script they were given, but ultimately, it turns out horribly. I give it a 1.5 out of 4.


Worst #3: The Happening

The Happening had promise. It gave the audience enough suspense and sparked enough curiosity to keep the film interesting. What really killed it was the explanation to the events. *SPOILER ALERT* They found out it was the trees and plants all working together to take revenge on humanity. I mean, really? That's a bit ridiculous, don't you think? It just felt like a huge cop out, or even an environmentalist agenda film. It tried, but it faltered. I give it a 2 out of 4.


Worst #4: Broken City

Broken City had an electrifying trailer and really got me hopeful for it. It seemed like it'd be an incredible, intense, riveting thriller. Plus, how can you go wrong with Mark Wahlberg and Russell Crowe? Well, normally you wouldn't but the writers just couldn't keep the story moving along very well. The pacing was off, the thrills were dulled, and even the acting wasn't up to par compared to Mark and Russell's other brilliant performances. I have to give the film a 2 out of 4.


Worst #5: Contraband

Contraband essentially has a good plot, but it's nothing we haven't seen before. It's basically Gone in 60 Seconds only with drugs and counterfeit money instead of cars. The ironic part? Giovanni Ribisi was in both films. If you're looking for an action-packed thriller, you're looking in the wrong place. It's different, and that's okay, but it fails to deliver the power that it continues to hold back. I give the film a 2 out of 4.

Complete Filmography

  • Renaissance Man - 3 out of 4
  • The Basketball Diaries - 3 out of 4
  • Fear - 3.5 out of 4
  • Traveller - 3 out of 4
  • Boogie Nights - 3.5 out of 4
  • The Big Hit - 1 out of 4
  • The Corruptor - 3 out of 4
  • Three Kings - 3 out of 4
  • The Yards - 3 out of 4
  • The Perfect Storm - 3.5 out of 4
  • Planet of the Apes - 3 out of 4
  • Rock Star - 2.5 out of 4
  • The Truth About Charlie - 1.5 out of 4
  • The Italian Job - 3 out of 4
  • I Heart Huckabees - 2.5 out of 4
  • Four Brothers - 3 out of 4
  • Invincible - 3 out of 4
  • The Departed - 3.5 out of 4
  • Shooter - 3.5 out of 4
  • We Own the Night - 3.5 out of 4
  • The Happening - 2 out of 4
  • Max Payne - 3 out of 4
  • The Lovely Bones - 3.5 out of 4
  • Date Night - 3 out of 4
  • The Other Guys - 2.5 out of 4
  • The Fighter - 4 out of 4
  • Contraband - 2 out of 4
  • Ted - 3.5 out of 4
  • Broken City - 2 out of 4
  • Pain & Gain - 3 out of 4
  • 2 Guns - 3 out of 4
  • Lone Survivor - 3.5 out of 4
  • Transformers: Age of Extinction - 3 out of 4
  • The Gambler - 3.5 out of 4
  • Mojave - 3 out of 4
  • Entourage - 3 out of 4
  • Ted 2 - 3 out of 4
  • Daddy's Home - 3 out of 4
  • Deepwater Horizon - 4 out of 4
  • Patriots Day - 3.5 out of 4
  • Transformers: The Last Knight - 2.5 out of 4
  • Daddy's Home 2 - 3 out of 4
  • All the Money in the World - 3.5 out of 4
  • Mile 22 - 3 out of 4
  • Instant Family - 3.5 out of 4
  • Spenser Confidential - 2.5 out of 4
  • Scoob! - 3.5 out of 4
  • Infinite - 2.5 out of 4
  • Uncharted - 3 out of 4
  • Father Stu -

Closing Thoughts

Mark has been on a roll lately and I for one am looking forward to seeing what else he's got in store for us. So far, he's had mostly good movies and only a handful of rotten ones. Let's hope he continues to grow and gives us more incredible films.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2016 Nathan Jasper

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