Battleship will mark the second enormously expensive film in the last two months to star Taylor Kitsch as a gruff, troublemaker hero who steps up to the plate when the world requires saving. His star turn in John Carter didn't do much for his career, and his blank and miscast performance in that film left a lot of people who loved his work on Friday Night Lights wondering if he was all that talented to begin with. But in Battleship he has the chance to redeem himself, and some people-- well, at least Katey-- think he shows that spark of star potential after all. Kristy, on the other hand, remembers him fondly as Tim Riggins on Friday Night Lights, and didn't see anything to like at all about what he does in Battleship.
So-- is Taylor Kitsch movie star material, or is he a TV actor not ready for the big leagues? Katey and Kristy take on a Great Debate to find out. Pick a side and watch it all play out below.
KATEY: So Kristy, just so we know where we both stand-- did you watch Friday Night Lights?
KRISTY: I did. All of it. Angie and I were actually re-imagining Battleship as a FNL sequel, with Minka Kelly and the girl who played Tara replacing Brooklyn Decker and Rihanna.
KATEY: Alright, I never watched the show. So not only is that joke lost on me, all existing affection for Tim Riggins is too. When I first saw Taylor Kitsch in John Carter a few months ago, he was basically a blank slate for me.
KRISTY: Okay, that's good to know going forward. I actually love him as Riggins.
KATEY: Well, I knew people loved him as Riggins, and I kind of went into John Carter hoping for that. But in that movie-- and I think we both agree on that-- he was just a disaster. Dull, directionless, totally miscast.
KRISTY: I actually didn't see John Carter. So seeing Battleship, I didn't hold that against him. I just thought he was pretty vacuous in Battleship, and lacked the charisma the role needed to pull the movie through so much absurdity.
KATEY: And knowing his work on Friday Night Lights, what do you think changed?
KRISTY: Well, in Friday Night Lights he plays Riggins, who is a bad boy on the surface but really is more a wounded soul. He wants to be good, but has no one that supports him in this. So he's an underdog you root for. But in Battleship he just seemed like an arrogant ass. That burrito scene did not endear me to him. It seemed like a meet-cute out of Cops.
KATEY: it sounds like you're giving more credit to the writing on both sides, which I guess makes sense-- the writing on FNL was surely better than what's in Battleship. But in this movie I felt like there was something he was getting across that the writing wasn't. Like he was written as a totally typical, rugged hero, but he brought a little extra danger and potential to the part.
KRISTY: I don't know. I felt like that part was written for Bruce Willis circa Die Hard - rugged, yes, but also requiring a winsome sort of smug self-confidence. I didn't get that from Kitsch. I didn't get much from him at all.
KATEY: I think I got more of the underdog thing that you saw in him in Friday Night Lights-- he's the last guy you want to count on, but he'll come through when the time calls for it. What it sounds like, though, is that might be the only role he's capable of playing. When he was on FNL, did you expect a good movie career for him?
KRISTY: I was actually surprised when he got John Carter because he didn't show a lot of range on FNL, but I thought that might have been the writing. I mean, his character was pretty guarded by nature. But I have yet to be as taken in by one of his movie roles.
KATEY: Well, I'm not going to go as far as to say he single-handedly redeemed Battleship for me. But he did seem to show potential there that totally didn't exist in John Carter, and whereas I wanted to write him off entirely two months ago, now I'm more interested. But talking to you, it sounds like I'm just at the point most FNL fans were 4 or 5 years ago.
KRISTY: Maybe. I think that's why I was disappointed. I've seen him play the guy no one depends on, but who can be a hero when need be. What I was missing here was an energy or...I don't know screen presence. Like imagine Jeremy Renner in that role. He would have brought such energy to the goings on, no matter how ridiculous. I thought Kitsch relied too heavily on his puppy eyes. I mean, he's very good looking - but what else?
KATEY: See, and I'm less convinced of Jeremy Renner's screen presence, but that's a different great debate entirely. Here's my final question: do you want Taylor Kitsch to have a movie career, or are you ready to give in?
KRISTY: I do. I like him in spite of being underwhelmed by Battleship, but I think he needs to take some time and supporting roles to develop as an actor. Of course, if Battleship takes off, I doubt that'll happen.
KATEY: I'm thinking Battleship won't take off, and that won't be a problem. And I'm with you on supporting roles, though I don't want to see him try some big stretch. I think Battleship was the first evidence for me of him being able to play the brooding, dangerous guy, maybe as a supporting character to the main action, but I think he can do it successfully. And once he can walk away from John Carter and Battleship-- which I don't think will do anything at all for his career-- maybe he can figure out how to do that. Like, hey, in Savages, which comes out in July.
KRISTY: That's true. That could prove interesting. Oliver Stone, the bestower of second chances!
KATEY: If it worked for George W. Bush, it can work for Taylor Kitsch.
KRISTY: And Blake Lively even.
KATEY: Oh boy, and that's the topic of our next "should this person be famous?" debate.