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5 Ben Affleck Films That Missed The Mark

As we speed toward the end of summer, it’s hard to recognize anything but Batman v. Superman: Dawn Of Justice as the most disappointing film of the year so far. That’s not to say expectations were sky-high following Zack Snyder’s mediocre Man Of Steel, but the hope was for something better.

Unfortunately, this was just the latest project in Ben Affleck‘s career to earn the distinction of “disappointing.” That’s actually not meant as a knock on the man himself. He’s become a talented actor and perhaps an even better director, and projects like Argo, The Town, and Good Will Hunting still stand as strong testaments to what he can do at his best. He just seems to have an unfortunate habit of landing in roles that look exciting or interesting but inevitably fall short. Here are five such films that missed the mark.

Daredevil (2003)

Ben Affleck
Daredevil, 2003 ©20th Century Fox

It might not actually be the worst superhero film we’ve seen in the past decade and-a-half, but it was among the most forgettable. Affleck took his turn early in the emergence of modern superhero cinema, taking up the role of Matt Murdock/Daredevil in what would prove to be an underwhelming film. There were shades of an interesting story, and the cast was actually pretty exciting. Alongside Affleck, Jennifer Garner played Elektra, Colin Farrell was Bullseye, and Michael Clarke Duncan was Kingpin. But for all its traditional superhero elements, the film seemed a little bit cheesy, even in 2003. It lacked the charm of 2002’s Spider-Man or the satisfying action of 2000’s X-Men.

All these years later, the film still feels like a missed opportunity. It’s been one-upped by the outstanding Daredevil Netflix series, and there was even a recent write-up at Tech Times about a cancelled 2004 video game that could have built on the film’s name and shined a brighter spotlight on this character in general. But Affleck and Co. just couldn’t quite make the 2003 project stand out enough.

Pearl Harbor (2001)

Ben Affleck
Pearl Harbor, 2001©Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

It almost seems too easy to put Pearl Harbor on this list, and I have left off a couple of other obvious flops (like Gigli). But because this was a major box office event, it merits mention. This film could easily have been a marquee historical epic, but somewhere between Randall Wallace‘s uncharacteristically awful script and Michael Bay‘s in-your-face direction, everything went wrong. Fair or not, Affleck was the face of a project that most viewed as campy, overproduced, lacking depth, and just generally bad.

Runner Runner (2013)

Ben Affleck
Runner Runner, 2013 ©20th Century Fox

Casino films have long been popular, but there hasn’t yet been a film to address the changing nature of gambling in the real world. Nowadays, poker and gambling activities aren’t conducted on glitzy casino floors so much as through online platforms. And there, we see a stunning variety of games and bonus options all in one convenient place. Most are well aware of online poker tournaments, but what about live caller blackjack, or specialty bingo jackpot rooms? The former allows a user to play with a live dealer, while latter offers varied and new takes on the classic game. This is only some of what’s available at top sites these days, making for a massive online business that’s never been explored in film.

Runner Runner presented itself as the film that would delve into this new age casino culture, with Ivan Block (Ben Affleck) as a character running an online poker empire. There could have been tech-based scandals and crime, corruption in online tournaments, etc. But instead the film devolved from a promising premise about a poker player uncovering suspicious wrinkles in online games into one of the most generic crime syndicate films in recent memory.

Gone Girl (2014)

Gone Girl, 2014 ©20th Century Fox
Gone Girl, 2014 ©20th Century Fox

This will be the most surprising and perhaps unpopular inclusion on this list. After all, Gone Girl earned a great deal of praise from critics in 2014 and was even earned some major award nominations. Affleck himself did a fine job opposite the Academy Award-nominated Rosamund Pike, and the adaptation of Gillian Flynn‘s novel was true, compelling, and packed with suspense.

But two things went wrong with this film that as it was moved from page to screen. One was that Affleck’s character was presented in a manner that made him too obvious a “bad guy” to actually be the bad guy. In a thriller, nothing is what it seems in Act One, and Affleck’s blatantly scumbag-ish character early on pretty much gave away that his bad deeds weren’t the whole story. The other issue was that director David Fincher stubbornly stuck to his preferred visual styles of dark tones, sleek furnishings, and stark modern atmosphere. Perhaps it was just me, but this made Gone Girl a lot harder to buy. This is supposed to be a violent and shocking thriller taking place in and around a charming suburban family; there should to have been some warmth to the setting. Instead, the main house looked more like the D.C. lair of Frank and Clare Underwood, where murderous plots and the like are expected.

Batman V. Superman: Dawn Of Justice (2016)

Ben Affleck
Batman v Superman, 2016 © Warner Bros. Pictures

I’ve already covered the disappointment that was Batman V. Superman: Dawn Of Justice. And for a more detailed take, you can check out our full review, in which we pointed out that there were a few things right with the project. It looked big, grand, and beautiful, and Affleck was actually pretty effective in his role as Bruce Wayne/Batman. But there were a whole lot of things that went wrong, and the end result was a mess. Again, if it wasn’t the worst film of 2016 (so far anyway), it may be the most disappointing. One just expects something a little bit better executed when both Batman and Superman appear in the title.

How do you feel about Affleck’s filmography to date?

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One Response

  1. MovieManJackson September 3, 2016