This forthcoming week sees the release of Rodrigo Cortes’ claustrophobic thriller ‘Buried’, the story of US truck driver Paul Conroy who wakes up buried alive in a coffin six feet underground. Critical reception for the film is particularly strong, the performance of leading man Ryan Reynolds in particular is drawing the kind of buzz that’s likely to make the film a word-of-mouth hit. We at Front Row Reviews have a particular soft spot for Ryan Rodney Reynolds (this writer in particular will admit to having an unhealthy obsession with the Canadian star) so we thought it was the perfect opportunity to look back at the performances that have helped Reynolds on his way to becoming Hollywood’s next poster boy.
Two Guys and a Girl (1998 – 2001)
Alongside his best friend Pete, Reynolds’ Michael ‘Berg’ Bergen was one of the titular ‘two guys’ in this sitcom which ran for four seasons and gave him his first big break outside of his native Canada. Although very hit and miss, Reynolds excelled with a character who (for the most part) exudes confidence thanks to his good looks, great hair, charm, wit and intelligence. Declining ratings eventually saw the show cancelled on a cliff-hanger, but you can still catch it during the daytime on freeview channel Fiver – worth it if not just to see RRR but also Nathan Fillion in a pre-Firefly role as Sharon’s (the ‘girl’) boyfriend Jonny.
Van Wilder: Party Liaison (2002)
This puerile gross-out comedy announced Reynolds to big screen audiences, and while the film received a critical dressing down, it’s actually quite good fun and was a hit with the ‘American Pie’ generation. Reynolds confirmed that what he brought to TV, he could bring to cinema, emanating charm and drawing laughs with relative ease. Even the film’s detractors (and there are many) surely couldn’t argue that RRR is the best thing in it, a trait he thankfully hasn’t been able to shake throughout his career.
Blade: Trinity (2004)
After Guillermo Del Toro’s success with Blade 2, this threequel must have seemed a safe choice for Reynolds at the time…unfortunately, though, this was textbook ‘how to kill a franchise’ stuff. It would be a minor note on his CV were it not for one moment of pure genius, the moment where his character Hannibal King is given the single greatest line of movie swearing you’re ever likely to experience. If you think that you may be offended by such language then move on to the next paragraph now, but be aware that if you do you’re probably a “cock-juggling thundercunt”!
The Amityville Horror, Waiting, Just Friends (2005), Smokin’ Aces (2006)
Remember when we claimed RRR was often the best thing in a bad film, well here’s four prime examples of disappointing movies that are made watchable merely by his presence. It was a stage in his career where despite still nabbing leading roles, Reynolds was in danger of allowing his career to stagnate and becoming just another face in the crowd. He may have been attempting to diversify and move into new genre’s but he was still struggling to find parts in good films, or in major box-office hits.
The Nines (2007)
So what next? Well, a good film of course. A very good one in fact, albeit under-seen and under-rated. ‘The Nines’ is a philosophical sci-fi thriller of sorts (it’s a difficult one to categorise), split into three parts and has Reynolds taking on the three different, but interconnected, characters of Gary, Gavin and Gabriel. Not only was this the first time that RRR had taken centre stage in a genuinely good movie, but he brought to it three superb separate performances that proved not only was he a likable screen presence, but a damn fine actor as well. It’s probably safe to say that his turn here will have been an important contributing factor when Rodrigo Cortes cast him in ‘Buried’. Definitely, Maybe (2008)
Forget ‘Love, Actually’, for it is ‘Definitely, Maybe’ that’s not only the best rom-com with a comma in the title, but also the best romantic comedy of the last decade. You may disagree, but frankly you’d be incorrect. The story follows Reynolds’ Will Hayes as he tells his daughter a ‘How I Met Your Mother’ tale with a twist – in the present the pair are about to divorce. We’re left guessing as to which of the three women of his past (Elizabeth Banks, Isla Fisher, Rachel Weisz) are the mother of his child, and which is the love of his life. Described by some as a modern day ‘Annie Hall’, Reynolds’ had another gem under his belt and meant bigger offers were to follow.
Adventureland, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, The Proposal (2009)
A three-pronged attack from RRR in 2009 was enough to finally to secure a spot on Hollywood’s A-List and become one of the most sought after young actors in Hollywood. A solid supporting role in Greg Mottola’s excellent coming-of-age drama ‘Adventureland’ came first, followed by the relatively small role of Wade Wilson/Deadpool in Wolverine’s X-Men spin-off. Such was his impact a spin-off from the spin-off was announced, with Reynolds set to reprise his role as Deadpool in a script currently being penned by the writers of ‘Zombieland’. Then came ‘The Proposal’, a smash hit rom-com opposite Sandra Bullock in which the pair formed a sparkling on-screen chemistry, raking in big bucks along the way.
Well after we’ve all been blown away by ‘Buried’, Ryan will be back on our screens in a mammoth blockbuster as the comic-book hero ‘The Green Lantern’. The role was secured not long after ‘Deadpool’ was announced, meaning Reynolds will be the first actor to portray a character from both the DC Comics and Marvel pantheon. There’s also body-swap comedy ‘The Change-Up’ opposite Jason Bateman, animated flick ‘The Croods’, an untitled cop comedy alongside Bradley Cooper, spy thriller ‘Safe House’ with Denzel Washington, comic book adaptation ‘R.I.P.D.’, and a reteam with Sandra Bullock in ‘Most Wanted’ are all on his to do list. Told you he was in demand. Add to that mooted sequels to ‘The Green Lantern’ should it perform as expected and Ryan Reynolds is probably the most in-demand actor in Hollywood right now. About time too.