Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones, Steven Spielberg, Harrison Ford

Harrison Ford’s Latest 10 Movies vs. Greatest 10 Movies

HarrisonFord

Latest vs. Greatest looks at directors, actors and actresses and assess the state of their career as it stands.  We’ll look back at the last 10 movies the artist has done, give them a grade and then average them out to see where they stand today.  We’ll also rank their 10 best movies and give those the same treatment to see how they have been doing compares to their very best work.  (A quick side-note: if an artist is also a regular on a TV show we’ll grade the seasons as individuals and, clearly, artists need 10 projects to qualify).

Harrison Ford was, without question, the biggest star in the world in the 1980’s.  Ford owned the eighties.  It was the best run of work in his career and cemented not one but two of his characters into icon status reserved for few in the history of film.  Since, Ford has typically played the everyman character, whether this happened to be Jack Ryan, the President of the United States or a software designer.  It’s that quality that enabled him to rise from a career that began in carpentry to superstar  status.  He’s a movie star that doesn’t really seem like a movie star.

Han Solo, Harrison Ford, A New Hope, Star Wars, Chewbacca

Ford and George Lucas will always be inextricably linked (whether Ford likes it or not).  Ford’s breakout role was in Lucas’ American Graffiti, he had a small part in what many forget was orignally Lucas’ brainchild: Apocalypse Now and then he became an international legend with two of Lucas’ best characters: Han Solo and Indiana Jones.

Though Star Wars is consistently one of the topics on which I post the most articles, I’ve not yet discussed any of the films from the standpoint of critical review.  I could write several thousand words on any of them, so let’s simply for now say: Star Wars and Middle-earth are the two most dominant fictional universes and pop culture frameworks of my life.  He’s Han Solo, for crying out loud!  He’s an awesome scruffy-looking nerf herder who DID shoot first (bad George, bad).  He’s the grounding influence of the whole original trilogy.  He doesn’t care about the Force.  He just likes his ship, his big furry friend and the princess doesn’t suck either.

Indiana Jones, Harrison Ford, Raiders of the Lost Ark

Concurrent to the shaping of Han Solo into an international household name, was Ford’s embodiment of another character every bit as memorable and legendary (arguably more so since this one is the film’s main character): Indiana Jones.  How much different would the pop culture landscape be if Tom Selleck had taken Indiana Jones instead of Magnum P.I.?  When he couldn’t do it, Ford stepped in and the rest is history.  While there are certainly similarities between Han and Indy (the moment in Raiders when Indy shoots the scimitar wielding maniac is totally Han), Jones is very distinct.  How many kids went off to become archaeologists inspired by the thought of crashing through ruins wielding a whip only to become tenured class-bound alcoholics?  Random thought. 

The four Indiana Jones films vary wildly in quality compared to the three Star Wars films in which Ford participated.  I think Raiders and Last Crusade are pretty perfect and don’t care for Temple or Kingdom at all.  I may like the character of Indiana Jones though best among Ford’s roles.  In my opinion, Raiders of the Lost Ark is the greatest action-adventure film of all-time.  Discuss amongst yourselves.

Harrison Ford, Peter Weir, Witness

Here’s something you may not know: Harrison Ford has an Oscar nomination.  A well-deserved Oscar nomination, I might add.  Ford rarely stretches himself, which can be maddening as a fan of his.  Rather than seek to test his talent, he’ll often make X film where he plays Y irascible, grumpy dude with a heart of gold.  As he’s done with so many other actors, Peter Weir directed Ford to a landmark performance as a cop hiding from corrupt colleagues amongst the Pennsylvania Dutch in Witness.  This, I believe, is Ford’s best performance of his career and as many people I know who love him and his films, I can count on one hand  the ones who have also seen him in Witness.  This is one of the most underrated films of the eighties so watch how good Ford can be.  Then wait nearly thirty years before he stretches himself that far again.

Gary Oldman, Harrison Ford, Air Force One

When Star Wars and Indiana Jones were done, Ford transitioned into Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan.  He might hate to admit it, but Ford’s career has been waxed and waned with his proximity to franchises.  He’s one of the main reasons they dominate the box office today.  Patriot Games was a well-received first Ryan film, but Clear and Present Danger went nowhere critically or commercially and Ford lost interest in continuing with the character (who will be rebooted by Chris Pine on January 17th).

While the 1990’s were not a shadow of the 1980’s for Ford, he remained a top draw due primarily to his excellent work in two of the best action pictures of the decade: The Fugitive and Air Force One.  However, after 1997’s Air Force One, Ford walked in the desert for a long time before taking on anything of any quality again.  You could argue he chose poor roles, some might go so far as to say he’s lazy as an actor, but after Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was largely panned by fans, Ford seemed done.  He’s in his early seventies now, after all.  Let’s look at his last ten films.

Harrison Ford, Working GirlFORD’S LATEST TEN:
1. Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (2013)………..8.00
2. Ender’s Game (2013)…………………………………………………….8.75
3. Paranoia (2013)………………………………………………………………4.00
4. 42 (2013)…………………………………………………………………………..8.75
5. Cowboys & Aliens (2011)……………………………………………..5.00
6. Morning Glory (2010)……………………………………………………6.50
7. Extraordinary Measures (2010)………………………………..7.00
8. Crossing Over (2009)…………………………………………………….6.00
9. Indiana Jones  4 (2008)………………………………………………….6.75
10. Firewall (2006) ……………………………………………………………..2.00
HARRISON FORD’S CURRENT AVERAGE: 6.275

Barely above-average is Ford’s current score, but in 2013, Ford made four movies and three of them were very good.  Ford rarely does comedy, but I’ve always liked seeing his sense of humor (heck, I liked him in Morning Glory), but he’s rarely done any comedy since Working Girl.  Ford played a ridiculously pompous anchorman in Anchorman 2, Ender Wiggins’ mentor in Ender’s Game, and Branch Rickey in 42.  Rickey, the GM of the Brooklyn Dodgers who brought Jackie Robinson into Major League Baseball, is a legendary figure and Ford is so good as him that it’s a shame the movie came out in March.  If it had come out in the fall, he’d be getting Oscar consideration, which would be richly deserved.  Remember that stretching I told you we’d have to wait for after Witness?  42 is when Ford decided to really throw himself into a role for the first time in God knows how long and the result is fantastic.

Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, Harrison Ford, Han Solo

FORD’S GREATEST TEN:
Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)…10.00
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1982)………………………….10.00
Star Wars: A New Hope (1977)………………………..10.00
The Fugitive (1993)…………………………………………….. 10.00
Witness (1985)……………………………………………………… 9.75
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)…  9.75
Star Wars: Return of the Jedi (1983)……………..  9.75
Air Force One (1997)…………………………………………… 9.25
42 (2013)…………………………………………………………………..8.75
Working Girl (1988) …………………………………………….. 8.75
HARRISON FORD’S GREATEST AVERAGE: 9.60
NEW HIGH SCORE FOR ACTORS!

Ford has been acting for forty years now and his body of work, unsurprisingly, puts his career average higher than any other actor we’ve examined in this column to date.  To be honest, it could be a lot higher, but unlike the majority of reviewers, I can’t stand American Graffiti, Apocalypse Now or Blade Runner (which is another iconic Ford role that I discussed more in-depth when we looked at Ridley Scott)

So what’s next for Ford?  Now that he’s proven he can act again is he going to take on some great role of- no – let me stop you there and just tell you the only thing on Ford’s calendar in stone is The Expendables 3 in 2014.  However, the popular assumption is that the next time we’ll see him on-screen following that is in Star Wars Episode VII.  Ford has been pretty categorical in his lack of desire to ever play Han Solo again.  He lobbied hard for the character to be killed off in Return of the Jedi.  Lately, though, there seems to be a thaw in his stance.  We’ve not gotten any concrete details from JJ Abrams and team yet, but the popular assumption is that the original cast will come back in some capacity in Episode VII and that the Solo name may very well live on with the protagonist being Han and Leia’s daughter.  With the script due to be finalized this month, one hopes something will be thrown to the geek mobs soon.

Regardless of anything else he does, Ford is one of the biggest movie stars of the modern age.  He’s created iconic characters and embodied the everyman for an entire generation.  His place in Hollywood history is more than secure, but I doubt I’m alone in hoping we’ll get to go with him one more time to a galaxy far, far away.
Harrison Ford

9 thoughts on “Harrison Ford’s Latest 10 Movies vs. Greatest 10 Movies”

  1. Temple of Doom is just as good as Raiders IMO. It does what all the best sequels do: it distinguishes itself from the preceding film instead of trying to duplicate the magic, which never, never works. The problem with Crystal Skull was not that it moved the series into 50’s B-movie territory; it’s that the film wasn’t ENOUGH of a B-movie. In the second half, it becomes way too similar to the previous films. Last Crusade is better, but I don’t enjoy it as much because it’s the only film in the series that doesn’t have an identity of its own. Also… you hate Apocalypse Now, Blade Runner, AND American Graffiti? Wow. I’d love for you to elaborate, because those are three of the best movies ever made. IMO, of course. Also in the opinion of almost everyone. Now I don’t feel so bad about being a SW Prequel apologist.

    1. Well I explained about some of them during the top 5 I did on films I hate that everyone else loves, but essentially Apocalypse is, I feel, one of the dullest, slowest, murkiest overrated movies I’ve ever seen and I made myself finish it. It was agony. Blade Runner I think we’ve discussed. I’ve watched it five times and I’ve never tried so hard to like a film in my life, but again, I find it boring but I completely acknowledge its impact on science fiction over a generation. I respect that film. I don’t Apocalypse. AG, to me, is just not an interesting film. All three of them have a similar problem: they bored me silly. I can respect Blade Runner but the other two I think have, at best, aged poorly. However, I know I’m totally in the minority on that. I totally disagree about Temple and LC. LC’s identity is it’s a father and son story first and foremost. Kingdom didn’t work because at the end of the day there was no story. They tried for 20 years to find a story and they never did. Temple certainly has moments and is no Kingdom, but ugh if I never see any scene with Kate Capshaw’s shrill and annoying presence in it I’ll be happy.

      1. Everyone has had the experience of going to see a film that’s being touted as the second coming, and it turns out to be just blah. And you begin to wonder if the entire world is experiencing a mass delusion. I felt that way about American Beauty. If you don’t like Apocalypse Now, wear your opinion like a badge, because it gives you credibility.
        I agree that they never found a story for Crystal Skull. But for the first half of the film, I really thought it was going to be great, that it was going to build to something. Before I saw the film I steeled myself for all kinds of problems, but I never, ever expected an Indy movie with no urgency or suspense. In fact, as I think back, I don’t even remember what Indy’s motivation was. Taken as a set of action set pieces, Crystal Skull is diverting, and even entertaining, but it was an anticlimactic way to end a powerhouse series.
        LC has a wonderful father/son thing going on, but it still feels like watered-down Raiders to me. It’s a wonderful movie, though, and we got Connery and Ford in the same film together. Ford is Connery’s heir.

  2. American Beauty is great, apocalypse now is boring but relevant. Heart of darkness is also a boring read. Most movies are usually about huge life choices the protagonist has to make that usually change their life. People can relate to that because it is simple and its probably how we view our own live, as series of large decisions. I think that Apocalypse now shows how you can kind of descend into a place of craziness one step at a time. Still super long and drawn out.

    1. I know you (and my brother) love Beauty, but I just kind of hate it. The suburban malaise thing is a topic Mendes seems obsessed with between that film and Revolutionary Road. Apocalypse is, and I will give it this, the foggiest movie I’ve ever seen. There, see, I did give it some props. Lol, man, everyone focusing on the Ford films I didn’t rate and he STILL has the highest career score of any actor I’ve written a profile on yet.

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