There are plenty of actors that immediately found fame right out of the gates, but there are even more who had to struggle and persevere before they could become household names. Ryan Reynolds is definitely an actor that’s always been a sheer force of nature, but it’s taken a while for him to attain his current blockbuster status. This is an actor that cut his teeth on sitcoms and middling comedies before he was leading franchises and becoming superheroes.
Reynolds has had a lot of box office successes as of late, but it’s been a process to get to that point. Ryan Reynolds’ snarky presence is typically an asset, but that’s not always the case. Furthermore, before Reynolds really found his niche he was a part of some curious endeavors. Accordingly, Here Are 20 Terrible Movies Even Ryan Reynolds Couldn’t Save.
20 X-Men Origins: Wolverine
X-Men Origins: Wolverine had good intentions at the time, but it became a mockable low point in Fox’s X-Men franchise. It’s even more telling that the very same universe has since struggled so much that it’s basically collapsed in on itself. This film marks a messy origin story for Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine. Reynolds appears as a highly neutered version of Deadpool, the character he would later redeem in his own franchise.
19 Green Lantern
Ryan Reynolds had a hard time finding success in superhero vehicles and even though he gives his all in Green Lantern, it’s another disaster on the same scale of X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Green Lantern crams a lot into one film, bungles the character’s mythology, and is just laden in clunky CGI. Green Lantern is a hard character to sell in his own right and this was not the right approach to do it justice. Even Reynolds’ charisma couldn’t make people care about Hal Jordan.
R.I.P.D., otherwise known as the “Rest In Peace Department,” was supposed to be another major franchise vehicle for Reynolds. In the end, it comes across as a low-grade Men in Black. Reynolds and Jeff Bridges lead the film as two lawmen who hunt down demonic spirits who masquerade as humans. The film was based on a comic of the same name, but even with the built-in audience, no one got excited over this one.
17 Blade: Trinity
Blade: Trinity is the dark horse entry in Wesley Snipes’ vampire hunter trilogy. Fans either love or hate this film and the problem largely stems from the fact that Blade’s solo adventures are turned into a group effort. Blade himself takes a backseat to Reynolds’ and Jessica Biel’s new characters, who were even being set up for films of their own. The result was a confused film that didn’t know what it wanted to be and effectively ended interest in the property.
16 Smokin' Aces
Joe Carnahan is a director that has a lot of fun with excess and throwing a lot of chaos at the screen. Smokin’ Aces is a perfect example of that formula. It’s a film where a slew of assassins race to pull off the same hit and beat one another for the reward. It has a star-studded cast, but it falls flat and is just a lot of flashy action. Reynolds plays one of the good guys here and as a result he doesn’t really get to let loose in his typical way— not that this would have necessarily helped.
15 Safe House
Safe House is another one of Ryan Reynolds’ promising attempts at an action film that doesn’t exactly come together. Here he plays a CIA agent who has to reluctantly work together with a defected operative when they’re both attacked by a common enemy. It’s fun to see Reynolds paired together with Denzel Washington, but Safe House is too serious for its own good and it fails to stand out.
14 The Proposal
There’s a large portion of Ryan Reynolds’ career where he was preoccupied with romantic comedies. Reynolds is certainly charming and funny enough to fit this role, but strangely most of his efforts in the genre didn’t seem to grab audiences. The Proposal is a strong effort due to how both Reynolds and Sandra Bullock give it their all here, but the convoluted storyline is enough to drag this one down. None of it clicks as well as it should.
Criminal is one of those films that pairs together an outlandish sci-fi premise with big action set pieces. Sometimes those movies work, but Criminal is an unfortunate attempt that wastes a lot of the talent that's assembled. The story revolves around a new science that can transfer memories from one brain to another, so after Ryan Reynolds' character passes, his memories and skills are transferred over to Kevin Costner's character. There's a kernel of a good idea there, but it never comes to life.
Much like Criminal, Self/less is science fiction thriller that involves the transferring of consciousness to live forever in a sense. Here, it's Ben Kingsley who sheds his cancer-ridden body to take over Ryan Reynolds' vessel, but it turns into a problematic endeavor. Tarsem Singh, the film's director, creates some beautiful visuals here, but it tries to do a little too much and struggles with what it tackles.
11 The Captive
The Captive is a highly emotional story about a girl who disappeared and was presumed deceased, only to return nearly a decade later. Director Atom Egoyan typically deals in heightened melodrama and this is no exception. If anything, the film goes too far in that department and that’s what holds it back. It features a very serious performance from Reynolds that he does a good enough job with, but he still feels miscast in the role.
10 Coming Soon
Coming Soon attempts to be a subversive spin on the typical sex comedies that filled the ‘90s. It features three girls who are on the hunt for men to satiate their desires, rather than the other way around. This marks one of Reynolds’ first major film roles and he makes a good impression here as one of the male objects of desire. Coming Soon is fun, but it’s just a light sex comedy in the end.
9 The In-Laws
The In-Laws from 2003 is a remake of a film of the same name from 1979 that mixes together spy antics with family dynamics. This remake assembles a strong cast with Michael Douglas and Albert Brooks headlining the black comedy, but Reynolds stars as Douglas' son and the person who's actually getting married in the movie. Reynolds isn't the focal point here, so even though his usual routine works well here, it's not enough to redeem the rest of the easy comedy.
8 Just Friends
Just Friends is a romantic comedy where Ryan Reynolds’ character confesses his love to Amy Smart’s character, only to get rejected. He leaves town, only to return ten years later, a massive success, and still pining over his old friend. Reynolds actually does a really great job in this movie and, for the first portion of it, he’s in a very impressive make-up job and fat suit. There’s a nice heart to this rom-com, but it turns out to be ultimately pretty disposable.
Waiting is a simple enough comedy that looks at the ins & outs of the quirky wait staff and kitchen at a restaurant. There’s a very affable energy to the cast with pranks that fill the movie and Reynolds does a good job as the leader of these misfits. Despite its poor performance and initial reception, Waiting has found a strange second life and managed to connect with some people. It’s perhaps not popular enough to be considered a cult hit, but more people are discovering it and Reynolds’ presence doesn’t hurt.
6 The Change-Up
Body switching comedies are always a big gamble and going to be problematic on some level. It’s admirable to see them still be attempted, but you need a really good idea to justify them these days. The Change-Up does no such thing and it’s basically a spin on the Prince and the Pauper narrative as two friends are jealous of each other’s different lives. The fun here is to see Reynolds and Jason Bateman aping each other, but it’s never able to do enough with the premise.
5 Paper Man
Paper Man has a lot of good ideas going on it and it tells a rather moving story about how a troubled novelist is able to leave his imaginary friends behind and connect with an actual person, albeit a teenager. There’s a strong cast here with Jeff Daniels and Emma Stone, but Reynolds plays the imaginary Paper Man and is a great parody of the typical superhero (and those cheek bones)! It’s a fun turn for Reynolds, but his memorable performance here is limited.
4 Chaos Theory
Chaos Theory plays an interesting game and deals with heavy topics like the order of the universe and the power of free will. It’s a story that kicks off in an extremely simple way when Reynolds’ uptight efficiency expert character has his clock set back ten minutes and finds himself dealing with the fallout from such a simple change. Reynolds commits here, but it’s a film that can’t properly reconcile its tone and it’s another effort where someone else may have been better in the lead.
3 Fireflies In The Garden
Fireflies in the Garden features plenty of strong performances from people like Ryan Reynolds and Willem Dafoe, but it’s just so painstakingly depressing that it’s too much to handle. This film sees Reynolds in full-on indie drama mode where he deals with the loss of his mother and just gets dragged through a grief-filled mess. Sometimes this approach can work for a movie, but this is a story that’s been told plenty of times before and doesn’t bring anything new forward.
2 Woman In Gold
On paper, Woman in Gold should work. It’s a prestige drama where Helen Mirren wants to reclaim family heirlooms, which ties her up in a legal battle since they’re now national treasures. Mirren always does good work and Reynolds plays her optimistic lawyer who helps her take on the goliath and reclaim what’s hers. In spite of everything going for it, the movie feels lifeless and not grand enough for the true story that it’s telling.
1 The Hitman's Bodyguard
The Hitman’s Bodyguard is a fun parody of the action genre that forces two mortal enemies to not only work together, but protect one another. There’s smart casting here with Reynolds and Samuel L Jackson and it definitely finds a playful energy that balances action and comedy. Critically, the film didn’t make a great impression, but it apparently did well enough to warrant a sequel, which is on its way. Maybe that can help perfect the formula.
These are all of the unfortunate films that Ryan Reynolds couldn’t help elevate to higher greatness. Where do you fall on all of his efforts? Sound off in the comments below!
Sources: RottenTomatoes.com, IMDB.com, Variety.com