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[ed. note: With Colin Farrell set to play the spooky vampire next door neighbor in this weekend's horror comedy Fright Night, it's once again clear that the Irish actor has turned out to have one of the most interesting acting careers going today. He went from a breakout role in Joel Schumacher's Vietnam movie Tigerland in 2000 to the crucial mistake of dyeing his hair blond for Oliver Stone's Alexander in 2004, which led to generic performances in a string of generic big-budget movies. He then went on to recover by giving terrific performances in just about everything, from a small-scale Woody Allen crime movie to a raunchy summer comedy.
But with so many different Colin Farrell performances to choose from, how to you decide which is best? It's a debate that's been tearing the Cinema Blend staff apart, so we've decided to take the question to you guys. Starting today and running every day this week, we'll have our pitches for our favorite Farrell performances. Mack Rawden already kicked things off for us with Horrible Bosses; now Sean steps up with a defense of Farrell's work in one of his worst critical bombs, Daredevil.]
Arrogance. As Mack has already pointed out, the bawdy Irish bloke we call Colin Farrell positively brims with charisma. But it’s the actor’s visible egotism -- the fact that he knows he’s better than you, and he has no interest in hiding it -- that makes me admire him.
Farrell’s best roles manage to tap directly into the actor’s blistering self-confidence, striking a delicate balance between rehearsed performance and the actor’s innate cockiness. Fright Night is one of those examples, but the best case of an unhinged, unfiltered, conceited id that is Colin Farrell has to be his gonzo turn as Bullseye in Mark Steven Johnson’s Daredevil.
Without question he’s the best part of this woefully misguided effort, a jolt of energy into an otherwise jumbled mess of a movie. Arriving on the scene nearly an hour into Johnson’s director’s cut (and there’s no reason to watch any other version of this origin story), Farrell’s beautifully backed by House of Pain’s whiskey-soaked rap track “Top o’ the Morning to Ya” as he chugs a pint and massacres a dart board. Farrell exudes a lethal confidence without speaking a single word, even taking out a surly pub rat with an onslaught of tiny paperclips to the throat. Brilliant! Farrell’s near-orgasmic shudder right before administering the kill shot is a subtle touch by the young actor, reminding us how calculated this villainous turn actually is.
The whole scene’s an appetizer of the gleeful rage and comical carnage Farrell would unleash every time he appeared on screen. He chooses to play Bullseye as God’s gift to humanity, ironic because if you’re unlucky enough to meet him, it usually means you are on your way to meet your maker. Watch him ride an escalator through an airport, arms outstretched as if to say, “Here I am, minions. Start worshipping.” The move is mirrored in Bullseye’s first confrontation with Daredevil, where Farrell balances on a motorcycle (!!) as he attacks Jennifer Garner’s Elektra. Few actors could pull off such superiority without looking condescending or foolish. Any time he's coupled with Ben Affleck’s blind, bland Man Without Fear, Farrell only looks that much more electric.
It's a marvel (pun intended) how Farrell is able to do such much with so little as Bullseye. Though he’s one of three adversaries in Johnson’s film, Bullseye’s clearly the dominant foe, with Elektra double-dipping as a love interest and Kingpin pulling strings behind the scenes. But Farrell’s never given the lengthy monologue, the crucial back story, or any clichéd elements used to humanize comic book villains. He’s a hit man, a shark, swimming ever forward and killing for fun. And yet, we admire him, and actually root for him to prevail over Daredevil-- a rare feat for a movie's villain.
Farrell has other great performances behind him, but with Bullseye, he owns every single scene he occupies, and the inadequate Daredevil gets infinitely better each time Farrell graces the screen. For that reason alone, I’m calling this his best role. Now can someone explain to me how Elektra’s tepid character got her own spinoff while Bullseye was left in the lurch? The man demands a prequel. Because unlike Bullseye’s best throws, that decision missed the mark.
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