How do you describe an actor like Mark Wahlberg? Talented? Electric? Versatile? I would have to choose D: All of the above. Let's just put it this way, when a film he stars in doesn't do so well, it is not his fault. One of the other reasons I like him so much is the fact that he takes chances. I mean this is a guy who starred in The Fighter, The Departed, Planet of the Apes, The Perfect Storm and Boogie Nights, but he also saw something he liked in films like Rock Star, Shooter, Invincible and the remake of The Italian Job and made all of those films work too. He is not free from flops by any stretch of the imagination but he does manage to bounce back and remains one of the most talented actors working today.
So, what has he been up to lately? 2012 saw him in Contraband and starring next to a computer-generated bear voiced by Seth MacFarlane in the raunchy Ted. Ted was a little out there but most audience members and a fair number of critics enjoyed it. I know I did. Let's take a look at what Mr. Wahlberg has coming out this year.
Broken City, Directed by Allen Hughes, Released January 18, 2013
Ex-cop, Billy Taggart (Mark Wahlberg) is recruited by Mayor Hostetler (Russell Crowe) to find out who is having an affair with his wife (Catherine Zeta-Jones). As Taggart delves deeper and deeper into the dirty lives of these politicians and powerful people he starts to uncover things he shouldn't be uncovering. But, the mayor may have some methods to keep Taggart in line.
Sadly, this film has not had a strong opening or much praise from critics and audiences. This type of political drama relies heavily on the underlying story. In addition to twists the audience cannot see coming, it needs a fast pace and gritty realism. Based on the feedback so far it seems this thriller just doesn't thrill.
Lone Survivor, Directed by Peter Berg, Release Date: 2013
Based on true events, this film follows Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell (Mark Wahlberg) and his SEAL Team 10 on a mission to capture or kill Taliban leader Admad Shad. As the title implies only one man, Luttrell, makes it home from that mission.
This film has a lot of things going for it. In the shadow of the real-life death of Osama Bin Laden and Zero Dark Thirty, audiences' desire for patriotic films battling terrorism is at an all-time high. Add to that a cast of excellent actors including Wahlberg, Eric Bana and Ben Foster and you have a lot of the right pieces in place. The thing that worries me the most about this film is director Peter Berg. His directing career includes the lukewarm Hancock, The Rundown and last year's summer blockbuster flop Battleship. He doesn't have a lot of feature film directing experience and what little he does have has not been good.
Pain & Gain, Michael Bay, Release Date: April 26, 2013
Daniel Lugo (Mark Wahlberg) is a bodybuilder in Florida who is tired of his life heading nowhere. He wants more than just living from paycheck to paycheck. He convinces Paul Doyle (Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson) another bodybuilder and ex-con and friend Adrian Doorbal (Anthony Mackie) to kidnap a rich criminal and force him to pay his own ransom. The trailer for this film is out and shows a lot of promise as a comedy with a good bit of action, or vice versa.
Once again, the main obstacle I see is the director. This time it is Michael Bay, the man who makes blockbusters that print money but have no real substance. This film seems out of his wheelhouse.
2 Guns, Directed by Baltasar Korm'akur, Release Date: August 16, 2013
Mark Wahlberg and Denzel Washington play a DEA agent and Naval Intelligence officer who have to investigate each other. During their investigations they discover that they have been set up by the mob, the organization both of them thought the other was stealing from all along.
Even though there is no trailer released for this film yet it is the one I am most looking forward to on Wahlberg's 2013 list. In addition to him and Washington, the cast includes Paula Patton, Bill Paxton, and Edward James Olmos. It is directed by Baltasar Korm'akur, the little-known, Icelandic director who directed Wahlberg in Contraband.
2013 looks like a busy year for Mark Wahlberg and one that could help solidify his status as part of the Hollywood elite or set him back a few steps if he can't manage a single hit from the lot. Only time will tell, but I know I'll be rooting for Marky Mark.