The 411 Movies Top 5 09.27.13: Top 5 Jerry Bruckheimer Projects
Posted by Shawn S. Lealos on 09.27.2013
From Pirates of the Caribbean, Beverly Hills Cop and CSI to Con Air, Top Gun and more, the 411 staff counts down their top five Jerry Bruckheimer projects of all time!
Welcome to Week 393 of the Movie Zone Top 5. My name is Shawn S. Lealos and you have entered my world.
The 411mania writers were given the following instructions: Jerry Bruckheimer announced he is breaking off his long-time first look deal with Disney. The reason is because Bruckheimer says he is tired of making Disney movies and wants to make Jerry Bruckheimer movies again. With that in mind, this week let's count down our Top 5 Jerry Bruckheimer productions.
Honorable Mentions: Armageddon, Con Air, Top Gun, Close to Home, Cold Case, Enemy of the State
This action drama from 2010 only lasted 18 episodes, but I liked it quite a bit. It was a show about a badass female U.S. marshal, Annie Frost (Kelli Giddish), and her team of slightly less badass but still plenty badass marshals (one of them was Cole Hauser) tracking down and arresting bad guys. Some episodes were better than others, like any other TV show, but you tuned in for Frost's determination, icy stare, and need to catch bad guys. Jesse Metcalfe was even pretty good on this show. If Bruckheimer is looking to turn one of his former TV properties into a movie, Chase should be considered.
4. The Rock
For my money, this is the best collaboration between producer Bruckheimer and director Michael Bay. It's a big, badass action movie chock full of great characters, great actors (Sean Connery, Nicolas Cage, Ed Harris, Tony Todd, Michael; Biehn), and an elaborate, complicated story that makes sense, is shockingly easy to follow, and incredibly memorable. The music by Hans Zimmer is awesome, too (easily one of my favorite movie soundtracks of all time). I'm shocked that Bay, Bruckheimer, and company couldn't find a reason to make a sequel, as I know I would have been down for a second cinematic adventure featuring retired British spy John Mason (Connery). The movie made a ton of money, so what the heck happened there? Hopefully Bruckheimer starts making movies like this one again. A real event.
3. Beverly Hills Cop
This is one of Bruckheimer's early movies, and one of his first collaborations with fellow mega producer Don Simpson. It doesn't have the sheen of a Bruckheimer movie (the second Beverly Hills Cop, directed by Tony Scott, certainly did). In fact, it seems rather subdued. The movie did give us Eddie Murphy's smart ass Detroit detective Axel Foley, which is what everyone remembers. Perhaps that's the kind of thing Bruckheimer should talk about more often; he helped give the world Axel Foley, and he can do it again under the right circumstances. I bet Eddie would be up for it since the TV show isn't happening.
In terms of television, this is Bruckheimer's greatest achievement. It's a cop show that's all about the forensics team and how the team follows the evidence and builds a case against the killer/the criminal. The show is also one of the goriest in history. Without it, we wouldn't have Bones or, really, any show featuring forensics or people cutting open dead bodies to figure out how they died. The show also gave us one of the greatest characters of modern TV, Gil Grissom (William Petersen). The show also helped alter the way prosecutors present their cases in court in real life. No forensics, no conviction.
1. Days of Thunder
Bruckheimer, Simpson, and Tony Scott punched pop culture in the face with Top Gun, turning Tom Cruise into an action star. Days of Thunder upped the action, upped the badass quotient, and made people believe that Tom Cruise could be a race car driver. This movie is still insane twenty three years later, eventhough it doesn't make any sense timeline wise (the racing season is all over the map for one thing). Michael Rooker came into his own on this movie (I bet more people checked out his brilliant performance in Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer because of this movie), and Cary Elwes added one more classic douchebag character to his filmography. A classic through and through.
5. Remember the Titans
Bruckheimer may be known for wild action films but every now and then, his touch can work for a smaller project that works well. Such a case was this 2000 drama, a huge hit that tells one of those stories so amazing it has to be true. Set in 1971, Denzel Washington is the new coach for an integrated football team with Will Patton as the man whose job he inadvertely took now reporting to him. Together, they try to get the black and white players to work over their prejudices and be a true team. It's a fantastic drama with the great bits of how the team bonds over the summer only to face the problems of the rest of the school reacting to the two races working together. The football scenes are great and good stuff of Patton taking a stand against those wanting to get rid of Washington and a young Hayden Panettiere stealing every scene as the football loving little girl. For all his reputation for action, Bruckheimer shows he can work wonders for a smaller film (such as his idea to have the real coaches Washington and Patton play be on set to help the actors out) and why he's such an influential producer in Hollywood folks want to work with.
4. Top Gun
The movie that elevated Tom Cruise from just an actor to mega-stardom, this is the 1980's condensed into a single flick. How many young men joined the Navy hoping to be as good a cocky fighter as Maverick? Cruise's persona was well-suited for the role, arrogant as they come but humbled a bit by the loss of a friend even as he tires to live up to expectations. Sure, real Navy fliers sniff as the impossibility of the final dogfight scene but from its great soundtrack to the over-the-top male eye candy on screen, it's one of the must-see "guy flicks" that helped put Bruckheimer on the map.
3. Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl
It's become pretty common to slam Johnny Depp on his penchant for playing bizarre characters and how his Jack Sparrow has become a cliché. But then you'd forget how, in 2003, his performance was the talk of the movie industry. It was the reason the film became a massive success, you'd never seen a pirate, or any character, like this before and thus the word of mouth grew that made the film a must-see. It helped that it had a smart script, terrific special effects and Kiera Knightley in her star-making role. It may have been driven into the ground but the first film is a delight as the Bruckheimer touch helped turn a seemingly impossible project into a franchise starter that made its eccentric leading man a star.
What can you say about a show that's about to hit its 300th episode, that has outlived its two spin-off series and basically kick-started an entire genre that dominates TV today? Back in 2000, the show was something different, promising one-and-done stories with fanciful FX of the human body and showing how much crime scene work mattered. Even after all these years, the show can still come up with some compelling stories and backed by a cast that can make you buy it. It's endured the loss of William Petersen and Laurence Fishburne's tenure to be revitalized with Ted Danson and Elisabeth Shue and still remains a monster hit, something you have to give major props to Bruckheimer for bringing to the screen.
1. The Rock
Some argue this opened the door for more dumb action films in the '90's and paved the way for Nicolas Cage's transformation from serious actor to near-parody of himself. But the fact is that this is still a damn great action movie as Michael Bay hadn't quite entered his ludicrous over-the-top phase yet and fit well with a good plotline: Ed Harris as a general upset over the military refusing recognition of men who died on secret missions so he takes over Alcatraz and threatens to launch nerve gas on San Francisco. We get a classic teaming of Cage as a lab rat who's never fired a gun and Sean Connery doing a wonderful spin on 007 as a British spy who escaped from Alcatraz and now has to break back in. Sure, the mid-film car chase is a bit much but the tension when the two have to handle things on their own is wonderfully done and having Harris not be a cartoon villain but a compelling figure on his own is great too. Fantastic music score, Bay's direction fits the material well and good performances back up a great action film that was the swan song for Don Simpson but the start of a great solo career for Bruckheimer producing.
Honorable Mentions - A noticeable trend with all the Bruckheimer produced flicks are that they're all pretty much entertainment driven, action fests but what you may not realise straight away is the range you get. From comedy in Beverly Hills Cop and Bad Boys to straight action with a nod to political with Black Hawk Down and Enemy of the State, with a dash of adventure in National Treasure, Bruckheimer's resume can be labelled as anything but typecast.
5. Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl
Ignore it's diminishing return sequels, the first Pirates Of The Caribbean is a rip snorting and dare I say it fun adventure pirate fest. Curse Of The Black Pearl was propelled to the public eye thanks to a unique concept, a friendly cast and Johnny Depp in the role of a lifetime as Captain Jack Sparrow. Nautical nasties and niceties were abound over a chest of moody Aztec gold. Spanning three sequels (with a fourth on the way) which did not live up to the charm of the original, it's not bad going for a film based on a Disney ride really.
4. The Rock
The only Michael Bay film I will ever give a thumbs up to. Not a biopic about Dwayne Johnson to some of you young uns, but the tale of Nicholas Cage and Sean Connery teaming up to break into Alcatraz to stop a rogue US army outfit from nuking San Francisco with nerve gas… something like that. It's just details when you have Michael Bay at his least annoying. Sure we still have the "OH DAYUM!" black guy and ridiculous macho stereotypes but we get terrific one liners ("Only Heroes go home and fuck the prom queen") backed up by more ridiculous replies ("Carla WAS the prom queen!") with some sweet action thrown in. Oh and we get a guy melting to death due to some ridiculous nerve gas. Top fun.
3. Top Gun
The film to propel Tom Cruise to the A-List so you have Jerry to blame/love for this one. Cruise is Maverick, a tearaway but talented pilot, sent to the top level of air combat training - Top Gun. Ignoring the silly homosexual overtones and you're treated to a top draw slice of behind the scenes malarkey with the military. Made with the Navy's backing, we're given near pornographic shots of jets in action doing combat moves and tricks which is so freaking cool. Whilst there maybe not enough of the plane dog fighting action you want, the final scenes with Maverick overcoming his buddy's death to save Iceman in an aerial dogfight is still damn tense.
2. Con Air
This reviewer's favourite. Despite Poe being totally innocent when you think about it, it doesn't distract from Nicholas Cage's awesome adventure to secure the convict transport airplane from super evil John Malkovitch in Con Air. Where do I start with this? – "Put the bunny back in the box"? Steve Buscemi singing children's Christian prayers? Plane towing a car whilst flying? Landing a plane on the LV strip? The unnecessary but awesome tack on fire truck chase? It's all good. This is a desert island movie for me. An escape film from a moving prison wrapped up in a grimey feel good factor and plenty of Lynard Skynard… Seriously why didn't he put the bunny back in the box?
In terms of importance and recognition, it can't be anything else. The sprawling episodic adventures of numerous American forensic crime lab units have been going strong since 2000 with a total of nearly 730 episodes spread across New York, Miami and Las Vegas. Worldwide attention and praise/distain has been poured over the high special effect, glossy solutions to numerous crimes with a bit of drama with intended and unintended humour thrown in. You can't deny the format is basic as but Crime Scene Investigation is one of Bruckheimer's jewels in his resume and with a few "most watched TV show in the world" awards thrown in , it could be time he goes to reinforce his crown as the King of Blockbuster TV.
Honorable Mention: Bad Boys, Gone in Sixty Seconds, Crimson Tide, Con Air, Black Hawk Down
5. Coyote Ugly (2000)
You read that right. Now listen...when I look for a Bruckheimer film, I'm not looking for something of great quality. I'm looking for something that's fun and easy to watch, and for my money Coyote Ugly totally fits that bill. Piper Perabo is well-cast in the lead role, the supporting cast is fantastic (including John Goodman and Maria Bello in fantastic turns) and the humor is quite well-handled. By no means is it a "great" movie but it's one with a lot of rewatchability, and not just because of hot girls dancing on bars.
4. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)
This one had to make the list. It spawned a billion-dollar franchise that no one figured was possible and got Johnny Depp nominated for an Oscar in one of the roles I would have least expected him to be nominated for. Say what you want about the sequels (which I don't hate by any stretch), but this one was pure out-and-out adventurous fun and Depp, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley and Geoffrey Rush had a pure blast with it. Nothing wrong with that.
3. The Ref (1994)
One of my favorite holiday movies of all-time, right here. This underappreciated gem features Denis Leary at the most Leary-esque he's ever been in a film and Kevin Spacey and Annette Bening are hilarious as the dysfunctional married couple Leary's luckless crook kidnaps. It's not the explosion-heavy actionfest that people tend to associate with Bruckheimer but it's really damned funny and one of two holiday films I watch every year (Love Actually being the other one.)
2. The Rock (1996)
This is the quintessential Bruckheimer action film for me; it is the best pairing of him and Michael Bay and features that mix of action, humor, drama and sheer popcorn enjoyment that their best work is full of. Connery was perfectly cast and Nic Cage gets to have a lot of fun being the straight man foil for Connery's snarky old guy as they go off on an incredibly improbable military caper together. Every role is cast to perfection and it's pretty much perfectly-paced. It's one of my favorite action films, period.
1. Beverly Hills Cop (1984)
Really, there was no other choice for me. People have their favorite action comedies whether Lethal Weapon, Tropic Thunder, Rush Hour, Midnight Run or what have you. For my money there is none better than this one. What makes it work so well is that the comedy is never forced and is often not even blatant comedy. The humor is in the characters and their wisecracks, or the crazy situations they end up in like Axel hanging out of the back of a cigarette truck while it careens through Detroit. The fish out of water formula worked very well and the few times they do go for more overt comedy such as Bronson Pinchot's character, it simply works. This is the most successful and beloved of all of Murphy's films (and Bruckheimer's for that matter) and it's the one that keeps people hoping that one day he'll find success so he can be as good as he was here.
Shawn S. Lealos
Honorable Mentions: I am going to list the TV shows here, because none of them fit into my Top 5. Of course, everyone loves the CSI franchise (although I only really like the original), but I preferred both Cold Case and Without a Trace personally. Blackhawk Down, Bad Boys and Enemy of the State also made my shortlist. Kangaroo Jack did not.
5. The Rock
The Rock is the movie that proved that Nic Cage could be a big name action hero, although his roles grew more ridiculous as he gained more and more power behind the scenes. However, this movie was just a fun, thrill ride with both Cage and Sean Connery turning in solid performances. This was one of the more intelligent Michael Bay movies with great characters like Ed Harris' conflicted general and David Morse as his right hand man. Also, look out for great supporting roles by Michael Biehn (Terminator) and Tony Todd (Candyman).
4. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
Yeah, when they announced they were making a movie based on a theme park ride, I knew it was going to suck. I mean like Haunted Mansion kind of sucking. Then something magical happened and Johnny Depp turned in an amazing performance as Capt. Jack Sparrow while both Orlando Bloom and Kiera Knightly were great in their very important roles as star crossed lovers. Over time, the franchise became convoluted and once they promoted Capt. Jack to the main leading star, it crashed and burned. But, this first movie was better than ever expected.
3. The Ref
I had completely forgotten that this was a Jerry Bruckheimer movie until Jeremy listed it on his Top 5, but he is absolutely right. This is one of the best Christmas movies ever made. Denis Leary is great as the thief who takes the couple hostage and the bickering between Kevin Spacey and Judy Davis is just masterful. There is just great performances all around and this is a very entertaining movie.
2. Beverly Hills Cop
Eddie Murphy has had a very eclectic career, but if you want to watch the most entertaining R-rated action comedy of all time, look no further than Murphy's Beverly Hills Cop. Sure, he already did the shtick in his breakthrough movie 48 Hrs., but he just completely knocked it out of the park with the pitch perfect Beverly Hills Cop. The movie was very funny, the action took itself seriously, and more than anything, this movie made Murphy a star.
This might be an off-pick, but outside of Face/Off and True Romance, there is not another ‘90s action movie I would rather watch than Con-Air. This was Nic Cage at his most heroic, and had fantastic performances by the criminals on the plane, led by John Malkovich. Ving Rhames, Steve Buccemi, Danny Trejo and the sad fate of Dave Chappelle's Pinball makes this movie full of memorable performances. Yeah, it's just a big budget action movie, but it is one of my favorites. This movie is everything that a fan of action movies could want.