Monday, March 22, 2010
Christian Bale -- Good Actor?
Do you consider Christian Bale a good actor? I don't.
Sure, he's in good movies, but think about some of the recent movies he's been in...and how poor his performance has been in them.
I watched Public Enemies last night, and I really enjoyed it. Johnny Depp was good as John Dillenger, and Tommy from Snatch was a great Baby Face Nelson. But Bale as Depp's foil was just "meh". His 1930's era Chicago accent was bad. Come to think of it, Bale has several problems with his voice in movies.
In Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, his grumbly Batman voice was horrible...even fans who loved those movies were critical of Bale's voice. In Terminator Salvation, again he went for a gruff voice which came off as monotone, and ultimately lead to many people criticizing his flat performance. And in Enemies, his voice sounded like Fred Armisen impersonating Barack Obama on Saturday Night Live.
Bale does have a knack for picking solid scripts and working with established directors. Chances are, when Bale is in a movie, it's going to be good, which is why many fans hopes were raised when he joined Terminator Salvation. But Bale's participation in Salvation was an ego-trip. He signed on to play John Connor, who originally had a three-minute role at the end of the film. So Bale demanded the role be fleshed out, and it was, ultimately rendering the Connor part of the film irrelevant compared to the role of Marcus (Sam Worthington), which was the driving narrative force behind Salvation.
Bale is often shown up by other actors in the same movie, too. In The Dark Knight it was Heath Ledger. In 3:10 to Yuma it was Russell Crowe (although Ben Foster upstaged them both). In Terminator Salvation it was Sam Worthington and Anton Yelchin. And in Public Enemies it was Johnny Depp and Tommy from Snatch. This happens so often because Bale is a one-note actor and can't breathe any depth into his roles.
To be fair, Bale has done some good work as an actor. His performance in American Psycho was both dark and humorous. Bale's flatness actually worked in that role. And in Rescue Dawn, Bale did a wonderful job portraying a POW who escapes captivity and makes a run for it in the harsh jungles of Vietnam, all while on the verge of suffering a mental breakdown. It's probably Bale's best performance in a career of mediocrity. Bale is also known for taking on physically demanding roles. In The Machinist he lost 80 pounds and shed lots of weight for Rescue Dawn. He's also put on weight and gotten ripped for other roles.
So what is it about Christian Bale that gets people excited? Surely it's not his acting ability. It's his good decisions. When Bale is in a movie, chances are, it's going to be good. Also, being a good looking guy with rigid features doesn't hurt.
So I, as well as millions of other moviegoers, will still continue to see Christian Bale on the big screen. And despite his obvious lack of acting ability, I still consider him a good actor because he chooses good scripts and occasionally turns in a good performance.