Dee Cercone/Everett Collection

(Photo by Dee Cercone/Everett Collection)

All Mark Wahlberg Movies Ranked

During the early ’90s, while he was flashing his abs and modeling underwear as Marky Mark, few could have suspected that beneath Mark Wahlberg’s b-boy cap lurked the soul of a thespian. Now, that’s no longer the case — with dozens of roles and a pair of Academy Award nominations to his credit, Wahlberg has compiled an impressive filmography since making his big-screen debut in Danny DeVito’s 1994 comedy Renaissance Man. Since then, he’s branched out quite a bit, showing a flair for drama (Boogie Nights), comedy (Ted), and blockbuster action (Shooter, the Transformers franchise) along the way. It’s never a bad time to look back on Mr. Wahlberg’s career — and with that in mind, we’ve rounded up all of his major roles, sorting the bunch by Tomatometer. Where do your favorites rank? Read on to find out.


Max Payne (2008)

Adjusted Score: 20098%
Critics Consensus: While it boasts some stylish action, Max Payne suffers severely from an illogical plot and overdirection.
Synopsis: After the murders of his family and his partner, maverick cop Max (Mark Wahlberg) becomes hell-bent on revenge. Teamed with... [More]
Directed By: John Moore

Adjusted Score: 34020%
Critics Consensus: Cacophonous, thinly plotted, and boasting state-of-the-art special effects, The Last Knight is pretty much what you'd expect from the fifth installment of the Transformers franchise.
Synopsis: Humans are at war with the Transformers, and Optimus Prime is gone. The key to saving the future lies buried... [More]
Directed By: Michael Bay


Renaissance Man (1994)

Adjusted Score: 12979%
Critics Consensus: Renaissance Man tries to simultaneously be a literary comedy, an inspirational drama, and a star vehicle that caters to Danny DeVito's strengths, but proves to be a master of none.
Synopsis: After getting canned from his advertising job, down-and-out divorcé Bill Rago (Danny DeVito) gets a gig teaching English at a... [More]
Directed By: Penny Marshall


The Happening (2008)

Adjusted Score: 24339%
Critics Consensus: The Happening begins with promise, but unfortunately descends into an incoherent and unconvincing trifle.
Synopsis: An apocalyptic threat to humanity arrives out of the clear blue sky with a series of violent, inexplicable deaths spreading... [More]
Directed By: M. Night Shyamalan

Adjusted Score: 26005%
Critics Consensus: With the fourth installment in Michael Bay's blockbuster Transformers franchise, nothing is in disguise: Fans of loud, effects-driven action will find satisfaction, and all others need not apply.
Synopsis: After an epic battle, a great city lies in ruins, but the Earth itself is saved. As humanity begins to... [More]
Directed By: Michael Bay


Mile 22 (2018)

Adjusted Score: 33335%
Critics Consensus: Mile 22 lets the bullets fly -- and not much else -- in a thrill-deficient action thriller whose title proves sadly fitting for a film that feels close to a marathon endurance test.
Synopsis: CIA operative James Silva leads a small but lethal paramilitary team on an urgent and dangerous mission. They must transport... [More]
Directed By: Peter Berg


Daddy's Home 2 (2017)

Adjusted Score: 29128%
Critics Consensus: A formulaic comedy that's unlikely to spread much yuletide merriment, Daddy's Home 2 can only muster a few stray yuks from its talented cast.
Synopsis: Father and stepfather Dusty and Brad join forces to make Christmastime perfect for the children. Their newfound partnership soon gets... [More]
Directed By: Sean Anders


Broken City (2013)

Adjusted Score: 33850%
Critics Consensus: Broken City's thinly sketched, formulaic script offers meager rewards for all but the least demanding noir aficionados.
Synopsis: Former cop Billy Taggart (Mark Wahlberg) sees a chance at redemption for past sins when New York City's Mayor Nicolas... [More]
Directed By: Allen Hughes


Mojave (2015)

Adjusted Score: 33722%
Critics Consensus: Mojave has no shortage of talent on either side of the camera; unfortunately, it amounts to little more than a frustrating missed opportunity.
Synopsis: A down-and-out artist (Garrett Hedlund) has a dangerous and shocking encounter with an evil drifter (Oscar Isaac) in the desert,... [More]
Directed By: William Monahan


Daddy's Home (2015)

Adjusted Score: 34514%
Critics Consensus: Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg have proven comedic chemistry, but Daddy's Home suffers from a dearth of genuinely funny ideas - and lacks enough guts or imagination to explore the satirical possibilities of its premise.
Synopsis: Brad Whitaker (Will Ferrell) is a kindhearted radio executive who wants to be the best possible stepfather to his wife's... [More]
Directed By: Sean Anders


The Lovely Bones (2009)

Adjusted Score: 41238%
Critics Consensus: It's stuffed full of Peter Jackson's typically dazzling imagery, but The Lovely Bones suffers from abrupt shifts between horrific violence and cloying sentimentality.
Synopsis: After being brutally murdered, 14-year-old Susie Salmon (Saoirse Ronan) watches from heaven over her grief-stricken family (Mark Wahlberg, Rachel Weisz)... [More]
Directed By: Peter Jackson

Adjusted Score: 37081%
Critics Consensus: Newton has star quality, but this exercise in style can't hold a candle to the original.
Synopsis: Regina (Thandie Newton) meets charming Joshua (Mark Wahlberg) while vacationing in Martinique, as she contemplates ending her whirlwind marriage to... [More]
Directed By: Jonathan Demme


Fear (1996)

Adjusted Score: 46648%
Critics Consensus: Fear has an appealing young cast, but their efforts aren't enough to consistently distract from an increasingly overblown - and illogical - teen stalker story.
Synopsis: When 16-year-old Nicole Walker (Reese Witherspoon) meets 23-year-old David McCall (Mark Wahlberg) at a Seattle nightclub, she falls in love.... [More]
Directed By: James Foley


The Big Hit (1998)

Adjusted Score: 43587%
Critics Consensus: The Big Hit seeks to blend the best of Hong Kong and American action cinema, but ends up offering a muddled mush that mostly misses.
Synopsis: Affable hit man Melvin Smiley (Mark Wahlberg) is constantly being scammed by his cutthroat colleagues in the life-ending business. So,... [More]
Directed By: Che-Kirk Wong


The Gambler (2014)

Adjusted Score: 48455%
Critics Consensus: Well-paced and reasonably entertaining in its own right, The Gambler still suffers from comparisons to the James Caan classic that inspired it.
Synopsis: Literature professor Jim Bennett (Mark Wahlberg) leads a secret life as a high-stakes gambler. Always a risk-taker, Bennett bets it... [More]
Directed By: Rupert Wyatt

Adjusted Score: 50178%
Critics Consensus: This remake of Planet of the Apes can't compare to the original in some critics' mind, but the striking visuals and B-movie charms may win you over.
Synopsis: Director Tim Burton ("Batman") reinvents one of the most acclaimed and beloved works of science fiction, Pierre Boulle's classic novel... [More]
Directed By: Tim Burton

Adjusted Score: 46695%
Critics Consensus: In spite of its young leading man's heroic efforts to hold it all together, a muddled message prevents The Basketball Diaries from compelling as a cautionary tale.
Synopsis: Jim Carroll (Leonardo DiCaprio) is consumed by his life as a high school basketball star. Pressured by a wicked coach... [More]
Directed By: Scott Kalvert


Ted 2 (2015)

Adjusted Score: 52369%
Critics Consensus: Ted 2 reunites Mark Wahlberg and Seth MacFarlane for another round of sophomoric, scatological humor -- and just as before, your enjoyment will depend on your tolerance for all of the above.
Synopsis: Life has changed drastically for thunder buddies John (Mark Wahlberg), now a bachelor, and best pal Ted (Seth MacFarlane), now... [More]
Directed By: Seth MacFarlane

Adjusted Score: 50982%
Critics Consensus: While the special effects are well done and quite impressive, this film suffers from any actual drama or characterization. The end result is a film that offers nifty eye-candy and nothing else.
Synopsis: Based on a true story, the film tells of the courageous men and women who risk their lives every working... [More]
Directed By: Wolfgang Petersen


Shooter (2007)

Adjusted Score: 53199%
Critics Consensus: With an implausible story and numerous plot holes, Shooter fails to distinguish itself from other mindless action-thrillers.
Synopsis: A top Marine sniper, Bob Lee Swagger (Mark Wahlberg), leaves the military after a mission goes horribly awry and disappears... [More]
Directed By: Antoine Fuqua


The Corruptor (1999)

Adjusted Score: 48470%
Critics Consensus: This uninspiring cop thriller doesn't measure up to Chow Yun-Fat's Hong Kong work.
Synopsis: Martial arts expert Detective Nick Chen (Chow Yun-Fat) teams up with his colleague Danny Wallace (Mark Wahlberg) to keep several... [More]
Directed By: James Foley


Pain & Gain (2013)

Adjusted Score: 58129%
Critics Consensus: It may be his most thought-provoking film to date, but Michael Bay's Pain & Gain ultimately loses its satirical edge in a stylized flurry of violent spectacle.
Synopsis: Danny Lupo (Mark Wahlberg), manager of the Sun Gym in 1990s Miami, decides that there is only one way to... [More]
Directed By: Michael Bay


Contraband (2012)

Adjusted Score: 56765%
Critics Consensus: It's more entertaining than your average January action thriller, but that isn't enough to excuse Contraband's lack of originality and unnecessarily convoluted plot.
Synopsis: Ex-smuggler Chris Farraday (Mark Wahlberg) gave up his criminal ways long ago. But, he's forced back into the game after... [More]
Directed By: Baltasar Kormákur


Rock Star (2001)

Adjusted Score: 56787%
Critics Consensus: Like its title, Rock Star is rather generic, being not so much about the heavy metal scene than about rock cliches and formula.
Synopsis: A comedy set in the world of '80s rock 'n' roll, "Rock Star" is the story of an office supplies... [More]
Directed By: Stephen Herek


Four Brothers (2005)

Adjusted Score: 56989%
Critics Consensus: Despite striking a believable rapport among its principal actors, Four Brothers overwhelms with ultra-violent, vigilante-glorifying action and devolves into too many fractured, insubstantial thematic directions.
Synopsis: When an inner-city Detroit foster mother (Fionnula Flanagan) is murdered in a botched holdup, four of her now-grown adopted children... [More]
Directed By: John Singleton


We Own the Night (2007)

Adjusted Score: 63385%
Critics Consensus: Bland characters, clichéd dialogue and rickety plotting ensure We Own The Night never lives up to its potential.
Synopsis: In 1988, New York's police wage an all-out war on drugs, and guilty and innocent alike become casualties. Bobby Green... [More]
Directed By: James Gray

Adjusted Score: 70061%
Critics Consensus: I Heart Huckabees certainly isn't for everyone, but audiences attuned to its quirky wavelength will find a singularly brainy screwball comedy that refuses to pander.
Synopsis: Environmentalist Albert (Jason Schwartzman) enlists the services of "existential detectives" Bernard (Dustin Hoffman) and Vivian (Lily Tomlin) to solve the... [More]
Directed By: David O. Russell


The Yards (2000)

Adjusted Score: 67342%
Critics Consensus: Featuring strong performances and direction, The Yards is a richly textured crime thriller with an authentic feel.
Synopsis: After serving time in prison for taking the fall for a group of his friends, Leo just wants to get... [More]
Directed By: James Gray


2 Guns (2013)

Adjusted Score: 71508%
Critics Consensus: Formulaic and often jarringly violent, 2 Guns rests its old-school appeal on the interplay between its charismatic, well-matched stars.
Synopsis: For the past year, DEA agent Bobby Trench (Denzel Washington) and U.S. Navy intelligence officer Marcus Stigman (Mark Wahlberg) have... [More]
Directed By: Baltasar Kormákur


Date Night (2010)

Adjusted Score: 74848%
Critics Consensus: An uneasy blend of action and comedy, Date Night doesn't quite live up to the talents of its two leads, but Steve Carell and Tina Fey still manage to shine through most of the movie's flaws.
Synopsis: Dragged down by the daily grind, suburbanites Phil (Steve Carell) and Claire (Tina Fey) try to invigorate their marriage by... [More]
Directed By: Shawn Levy


Ted (2012)

Adjusted Score: 77406%
Critics Consensus: Ted's "romance versus bromance" plot is familiar, but the film's held aloft by the high-concept central premise and a very funny (albeit inconsistent) script.
Synopsis: When John Bennett (Mark Wahlberg) was a little boy, he made a wish that Ted (Seth MacFarlane), his beloved teddy... [More]
Directed By: Seth MacFarlane


Invincible (2006)

Adjusted Score: 77478%
Critics Consensus: As simple and authentic as the gritty South Philly invirons in which it's set in, Invincible sends a uplifting and heartfelt message packed with an athletic enthusiasm that shouldn't be missed.
Synopsis: Lifelong football fan Vince Papale (Mark Wahlberg) sees his wildest dreams come true when he becomes a member of the... [More]
Directed By: Ericson Core


The Italian Job (2003)

Adjusted Score: 78186%
Critics Consensus: Despite some iffy plot elements, The Italian Job succeeds in delivering an entertaining modern take on the original 1969 heist film, thanks to a charismatic cast.
Synopsis: After a heist in Venice, Steve (Edward Norton) turns on his partners in crime, killing safecracker John Bridger (Donald Sutherland)... [More]
Directed By: F. Gary Gray


Lone Survivor (2013)

Adjusted Score: 83662%
Critics Consensus: A true account of military courage and survival, Lone Survivor wields enough visceral power to mitigate its heavy-handed jingoism.
Synopsis: In 2005 Afghanistan, Navy SEALs Marcus Luttrell (Mark Wahlberg), Michael Murphy (Taylor Kitsch), Danny Dietz (Emile Hirsch) and Matthew "Axe"... [More]
Directed By: Peter Berg

Adjusted Score: 98334%
Critics Consensus: All the Money in the World offers an absorbing portrayal of a true story, brought compellingly to life by a powerful performance from Christopher Plummer.
Synopsis: In 1973, kidnappers demand $17 million from billionaire J. Paul Getty in exchange for his grandson's release. Getty refuses to... [More]
Directed By: Ridley Scott


The Other Guys (2010)

Adjusted Score: 85914%
Critics Consensus: A clever parody of cop-buddy action-comedies, The Other Guys delivers several impressive action set pieces and lots of big laughs, thanks to the assured comic chemistry between Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg.
Synopsis: Unlike their heroic counterparts on the force, desk-bound NYPD detectives Gamble (Will Ferrell) and Hoitz (Mark Wahlberg) garner no headlines... [More]
Directed By: Adam McKay


Traveller (1997)

Adjusted Score: 79094%
Critics Consensus: Though it may not explore its core issues as deeply as some may like, Traveller is nevertheless a smart and funny portrait of a relatively unfamiliar subculture with some strong performances.
Synopsis: A con man (Bill Paxton) teaches a novice (Mark Wahlberg) the rules for membership in an Irish-American grifters gang.... [More]
Directed By: Jack N. Green


Patriots Day (2016)

Adjusted Score: 97608%
Critics Consensus: Patriots Day offers a stirring, solidly crafted tribute to the heroes of a real-life American tragedy without straying into exploitative action thriller territory.
Synopsis: Tragedy strikes on April 15, 2013, when two bombs explode during the Boston Marathon. In the aftermath of the attack,... [More]
Directed By: Peter Berg

Adjusted Score: 98688%
Critics Consensus: Deepwater Horizon makes effective use of its titular man-made disaster to deliver an uncommonly serious -- yet still suitably gripping -- action thriller.
Synopsis: On April 20, 2010, the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig explodes in the Gulf of Mexico, igniting a massive fireball that... [More]
Directed By: Peter Berg


The Fighter (2010)

Adjusted Score: 99782%
Critics Consensus: Led by a trio of captivating performances from Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, and Amy Adams, The Fighter is a solidly entertaining, albeit predictable, entry in the boxing drama genre.
Synopsis: For Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg), boxing is a family affair. His tough-as-nails mother is his manager. His half-brother, Dicky (Christian... [More]
Directed By: David O. Russell


The Departed (2006)

Adjusted Score: 102530%
Critics Consensus: Featuring outstanding work from an excellent cast, The Departed is a thoroughly engrossing gangster drama with the gritty authenticity and soupy morality we come to expect from Martin Scorsese.
Synopsis: South Boston cop Billy Costigan (Leonardo DiCaprio) goes under cover to infiltrate the organization of gangland chief Frank Costello (Jack... [More]
Directed By: Martin Scorsese


Boogie Nights (1997)

Adjusted Score: 97458%
Critics Consensus: Grounded in strong characters, bold themes, and subtle storytelling, Boogie Nights is a groundbreaking film both for director P.T. Anderson and star Mark Wahlberg.
Synopsis: In the San Fernando Valley in 1977, teenage busboy Eddie Adams (Mark Wahlberg) gets discovered by porn director Jack Horner... [More]
Directed By: Paul Thomas Anderson


Three Kings (1999)

Adjusted Score: 98633%
Critics Consensus: Three Kings successfully blends elements of action, drama, and comedy into a thoughtful, exciting movie on the Gulf War.
Synopsis: Just after the end of the Gulf War, four American soldiers decide to steal a cache of Saddam Hussein's hidden... [More]
Directed By: David O. Russell

This is, quite possibly, one of the thinnest weeks for DVD releases that we’ve ever seen. If TV miniseries are your thing, you may want to check out the 2011 British retelling of the story of the Titanic or the 1979 television version of John le Carre’s Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. There are also a couple of poorly rated horror flicks (11-11-11 and The Wicker Tree) and a couple of new Criterions (Mario Monicelli’s The Organizer and a collection of Hollis Frampton films). But this week, our attention will be limited to the new Mark Wahlberg actioner, Ti West’s haunted house story, a powerful coming-of-age drama that flew under the radar, and a Japanese cult classic on Blu-Ray. See below for the full list!



Movies released during the early part of the calendar year are typically meant to bridge the gap between awards season and the summer blockbuster frenzy, but every once in a while, we’ll get one that’s either a surprise critical favorite (Source Code) or unexpected crowd pleaser (Taken). Contraband, which opened in January, certainly had its sights set on the latter, and it almost worked. Mark Wahlberg plays Chris Farraday, a former smuggler trying to live an honest life with his wife (Kate Beckinsale) and kids. When his brother-in-law botches a drug delivery, he must pull a crew together for one last job to get him and his family out of the game forever. If the “one last job” part of that summary sounds altogether familiar, you?re on the same page as many of the critics, who said while Contraband was more entertaining than the average January action flick, its lack of originality and unnecessarily convoluted plot kept it from being memorable. At 51%, it might make for a decent throwaway popcorn movie, but not much more.

The Innkeepers


Ti West enjoyed a modest career boost when his ’80s horror homage The House of the Devil met with widespread critical approval, and though he has yet to amass a huge cult following, his love for the genre’s classic sensibilities remains decidedly intact in The Innkeepers, Certified Fresh at 77%. Filmed in the actual Yankee Pedlar Inn in Connecticut where the story takes place, the movie stars Sara Paxton and Pat Healy as Claire and Luke, the hotel’s final two caretakers before its scheduled closing. Believing the inn to be haunted, the pair set out to record proof of supernatural activity and end up finding more than they bargained for. While The Innkeepers doesn’t introduce any new haunted house twists, critics felt that West’s affection for his characters and deft blend of humor and tension helped to elevate it above standard horror fare. Like The House of the Devil, The Innkeepers is somewhat of a slow burn, and it may not be the scariest movie you’ve ever seen, but word is there are other reasons to watch it.



For a short while around the time George Lucas’s Red Tails hit theaters, media outlets were abuzz with commentary on the black film community, and a small indie drama was frequently cited as a quality example of black filmmaking that deserved more exposure. Helmed by first-time writer-director Dee Rees, Pariah is simultaneously a coming-of-age and coming-out story of 17-year-old Alike (Adepero Oduye, in a stunning debut), a Brooklyn girl learning to embrace her sexuality and navigate her troubled home life with grace and optimism. Characterized by uncommon authenticity and powerful performances, Pariah succeeds in transcending race and gender barriers to make some universal points about relationships and their effects on the people in them. Certified Fresh at 96% on the Tomatometer, Pariah marks Rees as a new talent to watch, and if you enjoy a good, if sometimes painfully honest, slice-of-life story, you may want to see this.

Shogun Assassin – 5-Disc Collector’s Edition Blu-Ray


If you’ve been with us for a while, you know that we like to profile a few cult items here and there. A couple of weeks ago, we featured a box set of Dark Shadows; this week, we’d like to present the 5-film Collector’s Edition of Shogun Assassin, originally known in Japan as the Lone Wolf and Cub series and based on the famous 1970s Japanese graphic novels of the same name. If you’ve ever listened to Wu-Tang rapper GZA’s classic album Liquid Swords, you’ve heard several audio samples from the film, and if you recall the final segment from Kill Bill Vol. 2, Shogun Assassin is what Beatrix Kiddo and her daughter are watching together in bed; in other words, the movie’s got some famous fans. For those unfamiliar, Shogun Assassin is actually a recutting of the first two Lone Wolf and Cub films, which follow a disgraced samurai and his infant son as they wander the Japanese countryside and fight off would-be assassins. Unrelenting in its violence, the film was prime grindhouse fodder when it was released in 1980 and holds a strong following to this day. This new Blu-ray set contains not only the restored film, but also the subsequent four sequels, as well as a ton of extras like an interview with superfan Samuel L. Jackson, new commentary tracks, and more.

Mark Wahlberg’s action-thriller Contraband took control of the box office this weekend, while the latest Disney 3D re-release did relatively well and last weekend’s champ crashed and burned in its second go around.

Giving off some good vibrations this weekend was Universal’s Contraband, which opened with an estimated $24.1M this weekend from 2,863 playdates, for a per screen average of $8,418. Wahlberg is a surprisingly strong draw at the box office, with all of his wide releases over the last decade opening in the double digits. His box office history reminds me of a poor man’s Denzel Washington, just without the accolades. Audiences dug the film as evidenced by its A- grade from Cinemascore.

Second place went to the 3D re-release Beauty and the Beast, which follows last year’s huge re-release of The Lion King. Beast opened with $18.5M, according to estimates, for a per screen average of $7,044. It didn’t quite reach the heights of The Lion King, which opened last September to $30.2M, but for a 20 year old film, it’s still pretty strong, especially when you consider the 3D Blu-ray has been on sale for 3 months already. Beast also now holds the record for highest opening weekend for an animated film in January, taking down Hoodwinked from this weekend in 2006. If there’s any company that knows how to milk their products for all they’re worth, it’s Disney. They’ve got Finding Nemo ready for 3D later this year.

Tom Cruise’s latest impossible mission fell to number three this weekend, with Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol taking in $11.5M, according to estimates, a drop of 42% from last weekend. Its total now stands at $186.7M, with the $200M barrier ready to fall.

The musical notes of Joyful Noise opened in fourth place this weekend, with an estimated $11.3M, for a per screen average of a decent $4,148. Starring Dolly Parton and Queen Latifah, the film also received an A- from Cinemascore, meaning that it might have some legs over the next few weeks.

A franchise star arrived in the next spot. Robert Downey, Jr. (star of not one, but two current major franchises) landed in fifth place this week with Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows which dipped 39% to an estimated $8.4M, bringing its cume to $170M after five weeks.

And the moment we’ve been waiting for… last weekend’s shocking box office champ The Devil Inside completely collapsed in its second weekend tumbling 76.6% to an estimated $7.9M. The drop was one of the worst in box office history, which isn’t surprising considering a) horror films generally are front-loaded and b) the reviews were downright horrible (which still may be too nice). Still, with a total take of $46.2M so far, Paramount is laughing all the way to the bank, and we can expect to see even more of these low budget, found footage films in the future.

Seventh place belonged to Craig, Daniel Craig and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo which fell 40% to an estimated $6.8M, bringing its total up to $88M. Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked followed in eighth place with an estimated $5.8M, a drop of 39% from last weekend, bringing its cume to $118.8M after five laps. Ninth place belonged to even more animals as the Steven Spielberg-directed War Horse brought in $5.6M, according to estimates, bringing its total up to $65.8M.

Meryl Streep’s latest bid for a third Oscar, the Margaret Thatcher political drama The Iron Lady, did well in its nationwide expansion after two weeks of platform release. The Weinstein Co. title grossed an estimated $5.4M from 802 sites (up from 5) averaging a solid $6,716 per theater. It was almost identical to last weekend’s expansion of another British political drama Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy which debuted in 809 locations for a similar $6,772 average playing to an older upscale crowd.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $105.3M which was down 2% from last year when The Green Hornet opened in the top spot with $33.5M; and down 29% from 2010 when Avatar remained at number one with $42.8M in its fifth frame.

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This week at the movies, we’ve got a reluctant smuggler (Contraband, starring Mark Wahlberg and Kate Beckinsale), a musical showdown (Joyful Noise, starring Queen Latifah and Dolly Parton), and a Disney classic (Beauty and the Beast In 3D, with voice work from Paige O’Hara and Robby Benson). What do the critics have to say?



Mark Wahlberg made a big score in The Italian Job; now he’s trying to pull off another with Contraband, and while the critics find it to be a competent heist thriller, they also say its plot is both convoluted and recycled. Chris Farraday (Wahlberg) is a cleaned-up ex-hood who’s forced out of retirement when his brother in law flubs a drug deal and is on the hook for several million dollars. To settle the debt, Chris hatches a plot to smuggle money out of Panama, but things don’t quite go according to plan. The pundits say Contraband is a well-crafted genre piece with a fine performance from Wahlberg, but it’s pretty standard stuff with few surprises. (Check out our feature on Certified Fresh crime thrillers.)

Joyful Noise


Queen Latifah and Dolly Parton team up in an attempt to make beautiful music together, but unfortunately, critics say Joyful Noise is mostly the same old song — it’s got some decent tunes, but it’s ultimately done in by an overabundance of clichés. Latifah stars as Vi Rose Hill, the new head of a small-town gospel choir with a by-the-book approach to the group’s songbook. However, the previous choir director’s widow G.G. Sparrow (Parton) wants the group to updtate its sound. Will they resolve their differences in time for nationals? The pundits say Joyful Noise is proudly old-fashioned, and some of the numbers are stirring, but its plot is corny and mostly tension-free. (Check out this week’s Total Recall, in which we run down some memorable movies in which the gang gets together to put on a big show.)

Beauty and the Beast (In 3D)


The first animated film to be nominated for a Best Picture Oscar, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast gets a 3D rerelease this week — in other words, if you (or your kids) have never seen this modern classic, this is your chance. Based upon the timeless fairy tale, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast is the story of Belle, a headstrong young woman who’s imprisoned by a cursed prince in a castle full of singing table settings and household instruments. Will they eventually fall in love? No spoilers here; suffice it to say the Certified Fresh Beauty and the Beast enchanted the critics when it was released in 1991, and it remains a highlight of Disney’s animated cannon.

Also opening this week in limited release:

And finally, mad props to Alica L. and Brad and Netflix for correctly guessing The Devil Inside‘s six percent Tomatometer.



Most crime thrillers climax with the bad guy getting caught. Since Zodiac is based upon a real unsolved crime (correction: series of crimes), it’s no spoiler to say that justice doesn’t completely prevail in the end. In fact, it’s that lack of a tidy conclusion that makes Zodiac even more unsettling; it’s a serial killer movie about a real serial killer who may still be on the loose. David Fincher’s long-but-briskly-paced thriller is a tale of obsession, as political cartoonist-turned-amateur sleuth Robert Graysmith’s (Jake Gyllenhaal) life is consumed by the search for the Zodiac Killer, who murdered at least seven people in the Bay Area in the late 1960s and early 1970s. With remarkable period details, an exceptional cast (which includes Mark Ruffalo, Robert Downey, Jr., Brian Cox, and Chloë Sevigny), and a nail-biting sense of dread throughout, Zodiac is one cold case that emits a white-hot intensity.


A History of Violence

Trust David Cronenberg to turn the classic American pulp movie on its head and put the audience through an accusatory prism of violent fetish. Viggo Mortensen is at his best as seemingly small-town everyman Tom Stall, whose world is disrupted when he kills a transient hitman in self-defense and finds his sudden “local hero” status coming back to haunt him — in the shape of Ed Harris’ terrifying mob boss, a remorseless soul who may be connected to Stall’s past. Cronenberg’s mid-movie switch is surprising, but it’s the movie’s conclusion that buries an unforgiving bullet deep into the audiences’ brain.



There are few directors who can depict criminal intrigue quite the way Michael Mann does, having cut his teeth on TV dramas like Miami Vice and Crime Story, not to mention his widely loved heist film Heat. But it was the 2004 thriller Collateral that really showcased Mann’s keen sense of subtle tension, ratcheting up the stakes en route to an inevitable and explosive conclusion. Jamie Foxx stars as Max, a cab driver who unwittingly picks up hit man Vincent (Tom Cruise), who offers to rent Max’s services for the whole night. As Max chauffeurs Vincent from hit to hit, complications ensue, and Max soon finds himself deeply embroiled in Vincent’s murderous spree. An engrossing and provocative thriller, Collateral found Cruise and Foxx at the top of their games, even earning a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nod for the latter.


Match Point

After a series of blunders, a man down on his luck hightails it out of country, where desperate times push him to desperate measures: guns, murder, affairs with classy dames. And just when everybody counted him out… Movie plot? More like the tale of Woody Allen earlier in the millennium, whose string of half-hearted, bumbling New York comedies encouraged him to skip on over to London and make his most electrifying movie ever: Match Point. Jonathan Rhys Myers stars as a retired tennis pro who stumbles into high society and marries into affluence, all as he attempts to keep his high-tension affair with a struggling actress (Scarlett Johansson) secret. Match Point is seductive and provocative, two words rarely used to describe Allen’s filmmaking, and seeing him dive into such uncharted territory makes the movie thrilling to the max.



The Coen brothers earned their first nomination for Best Picture for this none-more-black crime comedy, which effectively mixed their trademark strands of humor and existential dread to superior effect. Set in the snow-covered, eponymous North Dakota town, the story follows a low-rent car dealer’s scam to kidnap his own wife for ransom, a ploy which goes predictably awry when the thugs he hires bungle the job and a trail of murder and strange goof-ups ensues. William H. Macy, Steve Buscemi and Peter Stormare are hilarious — and sometimes chilling — in their greedy idiocy, while Frances McDormand rightly won praise for her deceptively naive, and very pregnant, policewoman on their trail.


Reservoir Dogs

Heist movies typically focus most of their attention on the stickup job central to the plot; leave it to Quentin Tarantino to craft one that really doesn’t show you the heist at all. In his directorial debut, QT blazed out of the gates with a clever, gritty, alternative take on the genre, sticking with the high tension mind games that follow a bank robbery gone terribly wrong. With one member of their team suffering from a gunshot wound, a group of randomly acquainted thieves begin pointing fingers until it’s determined one of them must be a snitch. Throw in a cop taken hostage and a few surprising twists, and you’ve got a first-rate crime yarn that remains Tarantino’s highest Tomatometer-rated film to date.


Le Cercle Rouge

Endlessly imitated but never bettered, Jean-Pierre Melville’s cool and measured heist thriller is a masterpiece of not only precise pacing but deadpan, sublimely efficient characterization — the kind of film in which a held stare or the tip of a fedora says more than a hundred modern mouthpieces babbling about pop culture. Alain Delon stars alongside an ensemble of disparate criminals brought together to stage a daring jewel robbery; along the way, he’s hunted by a cat-fancying, Bogart-channeling detective, played by Yves Montand. The slow, dryly humorous build up, as Melville again spins his love of American gangster pictures to wondrous effect, is one to savor, while the near-wordless, epically orchestrated heist itself is nothing short of breathtaking.



Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo teams him up with James Stewart once again in a strange, slow-burning thriller of acrophobia, double lives, and mysterious lives. Stewart stars as John “Scottie” Ferguson, a detective recently retired after his fear of heights directly results in the death of an officer. Scottie takes a job to tail and investigate a woman whose husband has concerns about her suspicious behavior. She visits the grave of a person she doesn’t know, stares at a portrait of a woman she’s never met, and she’s killed when Scottie’s acrophobia gets the best of him again. Case closed? Is there more to this story? Hey, what Scottie doesn’t know…


The Third Man

Holly Martins (Joseph Cotten), a pulp novelist, is summoned to Vienna to attend the funeral of his good friend, Harry Lime (Orson Welles). There, he meets Lime’s girlfriend and the two men who carried Lime out of the street after he got fatally hit by a car. But as Martins extends his stay in Vienna, so does the deception. Stories and alibis stop adding up and there emerge reports of a third man who carried Lime out of the street. What crimes have been committed? Who wanted Harry Lime dead? Shot on location in post-World War II Vienna and featuring some of the most vivid lighting on film, The Third Man is also a masterclass in escalating tension, doubt, and mystery.



Fritz Lang’s haunting serial killer procedural is one of the great achievements of the early sound era, and its dark, sinister ambience has inspired countless tales of cinematic crime and punishment in the years since its release in 1931. Peter Lorre plays Hans Becker, an elusive child killer whose crimes set off a wave of fear and suspicion among the public. Both the police and the underworld are eager to put an end to the killings, and each use the powers at their disposal to capture Becker. M has many things to recommend it, from its dingy, dank atmospherics to its patient use of sound (you’ll never hear Grieg’s “In the Hall of the Mountain King” the same way after watching M). But what keeps M from feeling dated is its perceptive, cynical take on human nature — it only takes one madman to knock a society completely off balance.

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