Posted on Friday, September 30th, 2016 by Jack Giroux
Very little is showy about Peter Berg‘s movies. He’s typically a filmmaker who manages to stay invisible, often successfully trying his hand at different genres. His strengths — his eye for performances and grasp on tension, in particular — are never overt in his movies. He’s a director that can build and build pressure over an extended period and create a great sense of geography with some quick cutting, but again, his skills never draw your attention away from the story.
As the director’s latest film, Deepwater Horizon, hits theaters, I wanted to take a look back at his career so far. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the opportunity to see Deepwater Horizon before putting together this list, but the reviews are enough to convince me to see it as soon as possible. Below, check out our Peter Berg ranking.
This box office bomb isn’t a disaster. There’s hardly anything offensive about Berg’s misfire, and it’s about as self-aware as a summer movie gets. With $200 million, Berg made a movie featuring Rihanna and Brooklyn Decker in starring roles (not a knock), a brief appearance from Liam Neeson, aliens, and a few references to the game. This is Berg’s attempt at making an extremely audience-friendly movie, but in trying to appeal to everyone, it lacks specificity, anything fresh to make it stand out. Worst of all, Battleship is also overlong, lacking excitement or any characters of substance. Taylor Kitsch and everyone else is serviceable considering what they’re asked to, but Battleship is too thin to maintain interest for over two hours. Maybe if this story of a naval ship facing off against aliens was a brisk, fast-paced action movie it’d entertain, but this just another summer movie that’s more bloated than huge. To the filmmakers’ credit, sometimes it’s appealing to the eye, and the special effects are often impressive, like in the sequence pictured above.
This Will Smith star vehicle was a disappointment at the time of its 2008 release. Berg’s film attempts to give us a bottom-of-the-barrel type of superhero with Hancock, a sloppy and unpleasant drunk who often does more harm than good. It’s a good setup, but the third act of Hancock goes off the rails. Tonally, it becomes a different movie, and the change isn’t justified. The first half of Hancock is a funny, slightly dark comedy, but the tonal turn and the third act twists are jarring and unsatisfying. Berg maintains his intimate handheld shooting style with Hancock; his fingerprints are more evident here than in Battleship. The performances from Smith, Jason Bateman, and Charlize Theron are unsurprisingly good. Smith still somehow manages to keep his signature charm while playing one of his more unlikable characters. Hancock is frustrating and messy, but Smith provides some fun.