I been TOOK! The 5 worst Denzel Washington films

I been TOOK! The 5 worst Denzel Washington films

In the top four Denzel films, there are moments (that I will cover in detail in that rating’s post) that made me want to immediately re-watch the film just for that scene. This is what I call the “This is what he does” moment, the pinnacle of Denzelishness and the moments that prove that Denzel Washington is the greatest actor of all time period.

On the other end of the spectrum, there is a parallel moment that highlights the difference  between the bottom 5 Denzel films and everything that ranks even marginally higher than them. These films were painful to watch. It was more than a chore, it was more than a minor annoyance, these films had moments that were he very antithesis of the “This is what he does” moment. That is what I’ll be covering here in this post: the moment in each of these films when I realized that I Been Took!

#40 –  Fallen

I feel a little bad that this ranks so low because I find the premise of this film really interesting. There’s the super interesting use of “Time is on my Side” through the film and the way that the demon works his way through the people is pretty cool cinematically. However, there are two things about this film that made me feel like I Been Took!

The first pretty marginal but did a lot to ruin the tone of this film. No one can say the name Azazel dramatically. It’s such a silly name that every time anyone says it I just stopped being able to take the film seriously.

The second is the final confrontation. Denzel makes a huge deal about this being a way to finally kill Azazel (you see what I mean, totally ridiculous name). Then John Goodman and Donald Sutherland show up and cause a ruckus and you get some decent action. But then Denzel dies and the film implies that the demon (I refuse to use the name again) is able to make it back to civilization and continue haunting. The film was not good enough to pull off a “the devil will never die” vibe, but it tried anyways after doing some decent suspense building up to that point. The film shot for depth and ended up feeling totally inconsequential which made me regret having invested myself in its story.


#41 –  Carbon Copy

This is a pretty controversial pick for me because I will defend that it is a better film than Man on Fire. But first, the I Been Took moment. It is less a moment for this film and more that you get four marital rape jokes in the first 10 minutes of this film and then the film makes a joke of the main character pretending to rape his wife as a means of spicing up the bedroom. The film had plenty of painful moments, but (like the significantly better Heart Condition) I was laughing through a lot of the movie. And that’s why Carbon Copy ranks higher than Man on Fire. I could reasonably hate watch Carbon Copy as an example of how shamelessly racist the 80s were. Man on Fire, on the other hand, is a film I will never watch again unless I decide to do a Tony Scott retrospective.


#42 – Man on Fire

Why? This one is really simple, I don’t like watching torture. A film like Zero Dark Thirty can get away with it because it opens the film and is portrayed as a bad thing. 24 can get away with it because it never lasts very long. Man on Fire on the other hand is essentially an hour of the incredibly annoying Dakota Fanning and then an hour and a half of Denzel Washington torturing people while being filmed with the worst of Tony Scott’s Domino  era cinematography and editing. The film is overlong and just dreary in its style. I was seriously tempted a number of times to just turn it off because it was so tiring to watch all that torture.


#43 – Virtuosity

What on earth is this movie? Like, really, who thought this would be a good idea. Did someone see Ricochet and say, “that would make a great sci-fi if we just replaced John Lithgow with Russel Crowe and replaced the scheming with sadistic insanity.” This film is just nonsensically bad when it could have been a semi-fun science fiction film like Demolition Man. As for the I Been Took moment, it’s every time Russel Crowe is on screen and opens his mouth.

#44 Hard Lessons: The George McKenna Story

Oh Hard Lessons, this probably isn’t totally fair given that it’s a tv movie from the 80s. At the same time, the final 5 minutes of this film are possibly the worst final 5 minutes to any film in the history of cinema. It is a melodramatic graduation ceremony with a horrible song playing over top while every kid we’ve seen through the film goes across the stage to pick up their diploma. It is the epitome of lifetime filmmaking and I really cannot forgive how truly terrible it is.