Way back in the day, Ryan Reynolds was the original Pajiba man crush, thanks mostly to some weird potential I saw in him from Two Guys a Girl and a Pizza Place and especially Blade Trinity, and later Adventureland and Definitely, Maybe. In 2009, he co-starred with Sandra Bullock in the surprisingly huge box-office hit, The Proposal, which suddenly elevated Reynolds from well-liked but little known star to THE NEXT GREAT ACTION HERO.
Unfortunately, Reynolds wasn’t very wise with his movie selections. He took a small role as Deadpool in Wolverine, because there was a future in that franchise. He jumped on the intense Buried with up-and-coming filmmaker Rodrigo Cortés to show he had acting range; he took a role opposite Jason Bateman in The Change-Up to remind everyone that he is, above all, a comedic actor, and he dove headlong into The Green Lantern to demonstrate that he could also carry a franchise.
How’d that go for Reynolds, anyway? Not so good. Turns out, Wolverine was not particularly well accepted (and Deadpool something of an afterthought that only merits rumors and development deals, but never an actual movie). No one saw Buried. The Change-Up was a misfire, and The Green Lantern puked the bed proving that Reynolds actually can’t carry a franchise. And then, just to put the nail in the coffin of RYAN REYNOLDS ACTION STAR, the following year, R.I.P.D. completely crapped all over the box-office. Even the guy’s attempt to voice a franchise animated character fizzled out in Turbo, which made a puny $83 million).
And in the midst of all that, he also divorced the most famous blond actress in Hollywood, Scarlett Johansson, and later married Blake Lively, whose carrer trajectory looks awfully similar to Reynolds’, as of late.
BYE BYE RYAN REYNOLDS ONCE PROMISING CAREER, RIGHT?
Well, not so fast. Never count out a Canadian. He’s resilient, goddamnit. In addition to brilliant cameos in Seth MacFarlane’s two movies, Reynolds seems to be starting all over from the bottom. He’s trying to reestablish his acting credibility. First up, he’s got his weird Sundance flick, Voices with Anna Kendrick, about a guy whose pets convince him to murder. That should plant in everyone’s mind that he can play disturbed bad guy with a twisted sense of humor.
Next up, he’ll be in Atom Egoyan’s The Captive, which no one will see, but it’s nice to do a solid for your Canadian brethren (fellow Canadian Scott Speedman is in it, too), and people respect actors who work for Atom Egoyan even if they never watch his films.
From there, he has an excellent shot at a second career as an “actor” instead of an action star as the lead in Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden’s Mississippi Grind, a road-trip/poker film with Ben Mendelsohn (remember, Fleck and Boden transformed Ryan Gosling’s career with Half-Nelson).
Mississippi Grind won’t earn more than $20 million, but it’ll grab people’s attention for when Reynolds next shows up in Tarsem Singh’s Selfless, with Ben Kingsley, about an extremely wealthy elderly man, dying from cancer, who undergoes a radical medical procedure that transfers his consciousness to the body of a healthy young man (so, like the horror-mystical The Change-Up?) Michelle Dockery and Matthew Goode also star in that, and everyone will appreciate its visuals but the movie will probably suck, because that’s par for the course for Singh.
But that’s OK, because just as Ryan Reynolds’ sudden upswing starts to take a turn for the worse, he’ll turn it right back around with a stand-out role in Woman in Gold with Tatiana Maslany, Helen Mirren, and a director Simon Curtis (My Week with Marilyn) about Maria Altmann, an octogenarian Jewish refugee, who takes on the government to recover artwork she believes rightfully belongs to her family. That’s the kind of role that will earn Reynolds’ co-stars Oscar recognition, but not serious Oscar recognition, and Reynolds will be not-serious Oscar recognition adjacent!
That should give him just enough credibility to finally get the greenlight for Deadpool, which will arrive in theaters in 2018 and make Ryan Reynolds THE NEXT GREAT ACTION STAR.
Full circle, people. Hollywood loves a good comeback story. Better yet, the next two years looks like nothing but bearded R-Squared roles.