By: Cam Sully
George Clooney. Perhaps not the first A-list performer that the average joe considers as an Action star, this man had more than enough forays into the genre that would make him worthy of being dubbed as such. Let’s take a look now!
Occasionally action-packed and having a similar atmosphere to Man on Fire and the Bourne Identity films, this real-world contemporary tale of international oil, CIA spying, foreign profits, terrorism and unexpected tragedies reigns true in every frame. Clooney convinces as tortured CIA spy Barnes who is one of several individuals chronicled in one of several separate but loosely connected stories. One has to see the film to be convinced by the gut-wrenching torture scene and see why it merited Clooney winning an Oscar.
9: FAIL SAFE
The first live TV presentation of a CBS network film production since 1960, this Stephen Frears reworking of Sidney Lumet’s previous version is set once again filmed in B&W and set in an alternate ‘60s World War 3 doomsday scenario and is well-shot by Chinatown’s John A. Alonzo. Utilizing the same themes, having the live presentation add to the thrilling yet dramatic real-time urgency and a bigger all-star cast, I very much recommend this updated version. George plays one of the three bomber pilots who misinterpret a Russian signal jamming as an act of war and unintentionally cause the aforementioned war by heading to Moscow to bomb it. He and Don both have a beyond believable presence in their interpretation of enlisted men coming to terms with every American’s biggest fear while remaining headstrong on the personally assigned yet actually mislead mission at hand.
8: RED SURF
Released straight to VHS and to select festivals in the States, this film still has an appealing drive-in circuit and antenna channel feel to it. It makes sense too why the surfer gang doing bad business with drug cartels appealed to Quentin Tarantino, and while it’s lower in budget it never drags nor feels lazy in its crime yarn depiction. Clooney handles himself well despite being young in his career by aiming for the dry sarcastic type while still handling himself well in the gang warfare and chases.
7: The Peacemaker
Another race against time, terrorism action film that delivers breath-taking car chases, bomb planting and another unusual terrorist mastermind. As film critic James Berardinelli previously once noted here, it’s actually a miracle that with the death toll that not a single person gets shot in the head! And Clooney mixes solid chemistry with brilliant heroine Nicole Kidman while receiving comfortable direction from his ER director Mimi Ledar and interpreting the intense script by the writer of Crimson Tide.
6: The Monument’s Men
Panned by some critics and mixed with audiences while being mismarketed as another Ocean’s 11 clone, this underappreciated film provides a fascinating true-life Kelly’s Heroes type art heist by Allied soldiers. Doubling his efforts by also being in the director’s chair, Clooney maintains a competent focus on the soldiers’ quest to save the stolen artwork from being destroyed by the Nazis and being an instantly believable squad leader. More appreciating on a rewatch, lightly comedic, housed with a scene-stealing cast, an exciting second portion and a thinking man’s action-drama aspect, this film will appeal to hardcore movie and history lovers.
5: OCEANS’s 11
A great all-star cast, thus film is a solid update of the late ‘60s Rat Pack heist film while also changing up the action-comedy subgenre. Clooney is the one and only true Danny Ocean. The while spectacle is instantly rewatchable, dazzlingly shot without feeling like lame style over substance and has countlessly memorable moments.
4: OUT OF SIGHT
The first of many Steven Soderbergh collaborations, Clooney shines in this Elmore Leonard adaptation and is game to play along with the healthy dose of off-color dialogue, deception, final score and romance.
3: THREE KINGS
Another Kelly’s Heroes type war-heist film but hardly derivative thanks to the unusual mix of action, comedy and war drama that it becomes impossible (much like a Tarantino film) to place in simply one genre category. Clooney has perfect line delivery and both he and his co-stars Ice Cube and Mark Wahlberg (both of who’s effective efforts appear to have been criminally forgotten in this film) never try to overshadow each other with their rather unrecognizable personas.
2: THE AMERICAN
Italian art-house cinema meets a UK/Hollywood style spy blockbuster, thus, allowing Clooney to become unrecognizable as a hired gun living double lives, in over his head, self-absorbed and no where near prepared for what chaos further awaits him.
1: FROM DUSK TILL DAWN
Instantly quotable and never holding back, Clooney strikes the right nerves as escaped bank robber Seth Gecko. Having standards and meaning every threat he spouts out, he even walks the line between anti-hero and villain several times. And when the second portion of the film becomes a vampire horror film, Clooney is ready to incorporate a mix of terrified survivor and deadly warrior like the filmmakers intend.
Hoped you enjoyed some of the picks on this list. Feel free to comment here, share this list or request another star be spotlighted on a Top 10 list here.