EVER SINCE those early, fresh-faced appearances on the hit BBC series Ballykissangel, Colin Farrell has been earmarked one to watch.
An actor boasting the kind of intrinsic star quality and screen presence few are lucky enough to possess, Farrell has enjoyed a pretty varied career since then.
When he’s bad, he’s really bad – that attempt at a cockney accept in Woody Allen’s Cassandra’s Dream is the stuff of nightmares.
But when he’s good, he’s among the very best – as these seven films demonstrate.
Keen to silence some of his critics following the debacle that was Batman & Robin, director Joel Schumacher decided to strip things back with a war drama that has none of the actual war parts. Farrell was largely unknown back then, but still found himself front-and-centre for a film focusing which focuses on the interconnecting relationships of a group of young recruits preparing to head off to Vietnam. Schumacher gained his redemption with the resulting film – and Farrell’s performance – earning rave reviews.
6. Phone Booth
Having earned his stripes with Tigerland and, later, Minority Report opposite Tom Cruise, Farrell reunited with Schumacher for this taut thriller. The Irishman plays an obnoxious publicist who finds himself trapped in a phone booth by an unseen sniper after answering a random call. Farrell carries the full weight of the film on his shoulders and does a sterling job in a complex and absording role that requires him to flit between repulsive and sympathetic from scene to scene.
5. In Bruges
Oscar-winning writer and director Martin McDonagh rewrote the part of Ray after Farrell’s audition, turning him from cockney to Irish in the process. It was a shrewd move, with Farrell delivering arguably his finest performance yet as the haplessly comedic hitman, awaiting his fate in the Belgium city following a ‘job’ attempt gone wrong. Spending much of his time bored and bogged down in philosophical ideas, Farrell’s Ray is a triumph. It’s a dream for the actor, with McDonagh’s sharp script giving him plenty of quotable lines.
4. The New World
Terrance Malick came in for a fair amount of flack when The New World was first released. An enigmatic figure at the best of times, Malick’s film focuses on the English exploration of Virginia and the trials and tribulations of Native American Pocahontas. Though Malick’s scope was praised, many felt it was too sluggish for its 2+ hour run time. However, The New World has enjoyed a critical reappraisal in the years since, helped by Malick’s stunning depiction of the period and emotive performances from the likes of Farrell, who plays Captain John Smith, one-third of a love triangle that also involves Christian Bale’s John Wolfe.
3. The Way Back
Peter Weir’s fact-based epic about a group of prisoners who set off across a desert to escape a Soviet gulag is a fine ensemble effort that was largely overlooked by audiences on initial release. It’s well worth watching though.. Boasting impressive performances from Ed Harris, Jim Sturgess, and Saoirse Ronan among others, it’s a powerful meditation on humanity’s enduring strength through adversity. It also features another standout turn from Farrell as hardened knife-wielding, Stalin-loving Russian criminal Valka.
2. Seven Psychopaths
Farrell returned to familiar ground with Seven Psychopaths, reuniting with McDonagh for another deliciously demented black comedy brimming with razor-sharp wit and a fair few sharp razors, for that matter. Farrell plays Marty, a writer struggling to finish a long-gestating film script. Things take a turn for the bizarre when his friend Billy (Sam Rockwell) places an advert in a newspaper asking for psychopaths to call and share their stories with Marty. It only gets weirder from there, with Farrell stuck in the middle of the ensuing, bloody, chaos.
1. The Lobster
Farrell stepped well outside of his comfort zone with this absurd dystopian comedy about a world where single people have just 45 days to find a romantic partner or face being turned into an animal. He plays David, a newly single man still reeling from the fact his wife has left him for someone else and already on the hunt for a new partner. He soon sets his sights on Rachel Weisz character, but the path to true love rarely runs smoothly. Playing a distinctly different character to the kind of loveable rogue some associate him with, The Lobster was rightly regarded as one of the best films of 2015.
Loaded staff writer Jack Beresford has produced content for Lad Bible, Axonn Media and a variety of online sports and news media outlets.