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Rami Malek is one of the most interesting actors working today. The projects he takes on run the gamut from an Egyptian mummy in a kid’s movie to one of our most beloved musical superstars. Malek has a unique presence, and his deep, piercing eyes are quite an arresting sight to behold. James Bond himself, Daniel Craig, even said that Malek would beat him in a staring contest due to the intensity of his gaze.

Malek’s proven that he can play sweet or evil with equal skill, and it’s always a surprise to see what role he’ll take on next. With an Oscar for best actor already under his belt, there’s a good chance his career will continue to flourish in the future. However, right now is as good a time as any to look back at some of the roles that turned him into the in-demand actor he is today. Without further ado, feast your eyes on this retrospective of Rami Malek’s work as we rank some of his most popular roles from worst to best.

Need For Speed

“Need For Speed” is rarely mentioned as a high point in Rami Malek’s career — and for good reason. Coming in dead last on this list, the 2014 film stars Aaron Paul as Tobey Marshall, a mechanic and street racer. Strapped for cash, Tobey goes into business with the wealthy but untrustworthy Dino Brewster (Dominic Cooper). Dino frames Tobey and gets sent to prison. When Tobey gets out, he’s hell-bent on revenge and joins a high-stakes race from New York to Los Angeles to beat Dino once and for all. Malek plays Finn, one of Tobey’s crew. He’s a computer expert, a role “Mr. Robot” fans will find familiar.

“Need For Speed” is an adaptation of the video game franchise of the same name, and it’s one of the many examples of the game-to-movie pipeline going terribly wrong. One would hope that a movie about street racing would at least be mildly exciting, but that’s sadly not the case. Every plot line is contrived, and nothing catches the audience’s attention. Malek does his best as a helpful crew member, but he’s given very little to work with. Given the success of the “Fast and the Furious” franchise, there’s no reason to watch a knockoff racing movie when there are so many better ones out there.

Amsterdam

David O. Russell’s “Amsterdam” was billed as one of the most anticipated films of 2022, but it turned out to be one of the biggest bombs of the year. Grossing just under $15 million at the domestic box office and panned by critics, success was nowhere in sight. One of the reasons the film was anticipated was its star-studded cast, which includes the likes of Margot Robbie, Christian Bale, John David Washington, Chris Rock, Rami Malek, Anya Taylor-Joy, Mike Meyers, Michael Shannon, Robert De Niro, and even Taylor Swift.

However, a good cast does not necessarily make for a good movie, and “Amsterdam” is a convoluted mess. In this case, a star-studded cast, a whole lot of money, and some smart cinematography equal a whole lot of (expensive) nothing. The film tries to get at some essential truths about the nature of humanity and the importance of kindness, but it fails in saying anything worthwhile. It’s ostensibly a movie about the rise of fascism, but whatever point Russell was trying to make about our current (and past) political climate is lost in the interminable chaos. Malek plays a character named Tom, who is married to Anya Taylor-Joy’s character, Libby, but he doesn’t do much apart from standing around and looking shocked. This is no fault of Malek’s, as the blame lies solely at the feet of its problematic director.

Da Sweet Blood Of Jesus

Spike Lee may be one of our most venerated filmmakers, but not all of his films are hits. Case in point: his 2014 film “Da Sweet Blood of Jesus.” A remake of the 1973 blaxploitation film “Ganja & Hess,” the plot centers on wealthy anthropologist Dr. Hess Green (Stephen Tyrone Williams), who becomes a vampire after being stabbed with an ancient African knife. Green embarks on a dangerous romance with Ganja Hightower (Zaraah Abrahams), the ex-wife of the man who stabbed him. Rami Malek plays Green’s loyal servant, Seneschal Higginbottom, who becomes embroiled in their immortal drama.

“Da Sweet Blood of Jesus” gets points for style (typical for a Spike Lee joint) but not much else. The focus is much more on mood than narrative, which causes the plot to become very muddled. While the film on which it is based feels prescient and exciting, “Da Sweet Blood of Jesus” lacks any of that modern energy, failing to live up to its exciting blaxploitation roots. Though he plays a nominally important character, Malek doesn’t have much to work with here, which means the film will probably be disappointing to his fans. Lee must have some affection for Malek, as he also had a small part in Lee’s “Oldboy” remake, a film so awful it’s not even worth mentioning here. Still, it’s a shame he hasn’t been featured in one of Lee’s better films.

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn: Part 2

There may be some who would put “Breaking Dawn: Part 2” dead last on this list, but that’s not us. It’s commonly understood that the “Twilight” films tend to get worse as the series goes on, and while we don’t necessarily disagree with that, we do think the films get more and more unhinged as they progress, and that’s at least worth something in terms of entertainment value.

“Breaking Dawn: Part 2” follows the Cullen clan (and a few werewolves) as they adjust to Bella’s (Kristen Stewart) new existence as a vampire after giving birth to a terrifying CGI-ed human/vampire hybrid. They smell trouble (literally) when they learn that the Volturi, an ancient group of vampire adjudicators, intend to destroy baby Renesmee. Fearing the worst, the Cullens put together a group of the smartest and most powerful vampires from around the world in case a war with the Volturi comes to pass. Among them is Rami Malek’s character, Benjamin, who’s part of an Egyptian coven with power over the four elements.

The movie is absolutely absurd. The CGI is terrible, the plot doesn’t really go anywhere, and everything is heightened to a hilarious degree. Nonetheless, it’s actually kind of delightful how bad it is, and the nearly 10-minute-long fake-out fight scene during the end is one of the most iconic moments in the franchise. Plus, it’s great fun to meet all of the international vampires, of which Malek is a small but memorable member.

Bohemian Rhapsody

“Bohemian Rhapsody” may be the film that won Rami Malek his Oscar, but it’s far from his best project. There’s a lot wrong with the film. First, there are alarming allegations against Bryan Singer, who directed most (but not all) of the film. However, the movie itself doesn’t hold up under scrutiny either. The editing is dreadful and distracting. The pacing makes little sense, and the dialogue feels forced and has almost no emotional impact. The movie also seems to have no sense of what made Freddie Mercury such an important cultural figure, especially regarding his queerness. As David Elrich wrote in his review, “this movie could effectively be about any musicians, at any time.”

The film’s only redeeming factors are Malek’s admittedly impressive lead performance and the fact that Queen has a great catalog of songs to choose from. Malek does the best he possibly can to transform into one of the most iconic pop stars in history, and his efforts pay off. Unfortunately, the world in which this Freddie Mercury exists does an injustice to the man himself and to Malek’s engaging performance. We would be inclined to put this film even lower on the list were it not for Malek’s work, which does deserve at least a modicum of praise.

The Little Things

Unfortunately for Rami Malek fans, the 2021 film “The Little Things” suffers from the same problem as “Need for Speed.” It’s a serial killer thriller that adds nothing new to the genre and treads too much on well-worn territory. The best thing about the film is the cast, which includes Malek, Denzel Washington, Jared Leto, Natalie Morales, and Chris Bauer. Washington plays Deputy Sheriff Joe “Deke” Deacon, who partners with Sgt. Jim Baxter (Malek) to hunt down a serial killer (Leto) operating in Los Angeles. Deke is haunted by events in his past that may derail the case altogether.

“The Little Things” is not an entirely terrible film, but it’s not especially interesting either. It’s hard not to think of David Fincher’s masterpiece “Se7en” while watching it, which is obviously the better film of the two. In many ways, “The Little Things” seems like a throwback film, one of those mid-budget thrillers from the 1990s that populated Blockbusters everywhere. The main difference is that this film was made in 2021, which means it doesn’t have that sense of nostalgia and earnestness that make those films so enjoyable to watch. Washington brings his A-game to the role, as he always does, and Malek plays up his distinct eccentricity in a way that is perplexing if not entirely effective. It doesn’t quite do enough to live up to the style of film that it’s referencing, but it’s ultimately an inoffensive game of cat and mouse.

Buster’s Mal Heart

“Buster’s Mal Heart” may be the oddest film Rami Malek has starred in, and that’s saying a lot for an actor who is primarily known for his particular brand of eccentricity. Malek plays the titular character, Buster, a man who lives in the mountains and survives by squatting in empty vacation homes. Buster is on the run from the authorities but gains something of a reputation for calling into radio shows and jabbering about an upcoming apocalyptic event. Buster frequently has flashbacks of his past life as a happy family man, which helps to clue us into how he became a fugitive in the first place.

There’s a lot of intriguing material here, and some of it works. The story is altogether jumbled, but there is at least a method to this madness. The film moves along as if it were a dream or a series of non-linear memories, which certainly may not work for everyone. And, to be fair, it doesn’t always make sense even to the most observant viewer, but that’s part of the journey. Malek gives a striking performance and throws himself fully into the confusion without hesitation. You’ve got to give the film credit for its audacity, even if it is a frustrating watch at times.

Papillon

The 2017 film “Papillon” is based on the 1969 novel of the same name by Henri Charrière, which purports to tell the true story of his life. Papillon (Charlie Hunnam) is a safecracker in 1930s Paris who is falsely accused of murder and sent to a penal colony in French Guiana. While there, Papillon meets Louis Dega (Rami Malek), a counterfeiter whom he befriends. The two men form a close bond and hatch a plan to escape while helping each other survive in dire circumstances.

Charrière’s book was first adapted into a film in 1973 that starred Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman. Unfortunately, this is one of the biggest knocks against the 2017 remake. Indeed, this adaptation doesn’t add anything to the story that wasn’t covered in the original. Nonetheless, the film is impressively acted, and the bond between Papillon and Dega feels genuine. The focus here is more on gritty realism, which works primarily because Hunman and Malek sell their desperation so well. The subject matter is certainly intriguing, and the homoerotic subtext between the two men ramps up the emotional impact to a rousing degree.

Night At The Museum Trilogy

“Night at the Museum” (and its two sequels) is the kind of film that only works if you were there to experience it firsthand. If you were 11 years old when the film was released (and thus its target audience), it’s a stone-cold classic. Even looking back as an adult, the series is pretty dang entertaining, and the admittedly goofy premise is brought to life (literally) with impressive gumption. Ben Stiller plays Larry Daley, a night watchman at the Museum of Natural History, who accidentally unleashes an ancient curse that causes the exhibits to come to life.

Larry finds himself face-to-face with various historical figures, including Attila the Hun (Patrick Gallagher), Teddy Roosevelt (Robin Williams), and the mummy of Ahkmenrah, played by Rami Malek. Chaos ensues (obviously) as Larry tries to find a way to control the anarchy that he has provoked. The first film is probably the best in the trilogy (the fourth film, which does not have Ben Stiller, does not count), but the second film does have Amy Adams playing Amelia Earheart, so it certainly shouldn’t be discounted. As for Malek, his mummy character is actually kind of adorable, and he gets to further develop his backstory by the third film when he has a touching reunion with his family. They may not be the most mature films, but they succeed in their goal of delighting fifth graders everywhere.

No Time To Die

As far as villainous roles go, there are few parts more sought after than a Bond villain. While Bond girls provide a sexy distraction, Bond villains define the films’ action. Rami Malek got the opportunity of a lifetime when he was cast as a villain in Daniel Craig’s final Bond film, “No Time To Die.” The 2021 movie sees Bond living a quiet life in Jamaica until he’s rudely interrupted by a friend from his past. Their mission becomes more complicated than expected when 007 learns of a dangerous new villain armed with world-ending technology.

Craig’s run as Bond has been somewhat uneven (through no fault of his own), but “No Time to Die” is a fitting end to the actor’s tenure as the iconic character. Frankly, Malek’s character, Safin, is far from the most iconic Bond villain. In fact, his character was pretty poorly received, but the film succeeds as an unexpectedly touching entry in an action-packed franchise. It’s a shame Safin wasn’t a better-written (i.e., less clichéd) character because it would have been interesting to see Malek chew on some good villain material. As it stands, “No Time To Die” isn’t one of Malek’s best roles, but he was lucky enough to be included in what is otherwise a pretty satisfying film.

The Pacific

“The Pacific” is a 10-part HBO miniseries that follows three U.S. Marines, Pfcs. Robert Leckie (James Badge Dale) and Eugene B. Sledge (Joseph Mazzello) and Sgt. John Basilone (Jon Seda), as they fight their way across the Pacific Theater during World War II. A companion piece to 2001’s “Band of Brothers,” which takes place in Europe, the series was produced by Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks. Rami Malek plays Merriell Shelton, also known as Snafu, a Marine who serves with Sledge.

It’s obvious that “The Pacific” was an expensive series to make, but its budget works to its benefit. The sets and the action sequences are a sight to behold. It all looks grand while maintaining a sense of historical accuracy. Then, there are the performances that are what make “The Pacific” worth watching. Dale, Mazzello, Seda, Malek, and company dig deep to get at the vulnerable humanity of their characters, allowing the viewer to find an emotional entry point into the story rather than a purely intellectual one. As we get to know the characters throughout the series, it becomes difficult not to empathize with their struggles and hope for a positive outcome. War epics might not be for everyone, but “The Pacific” is a worthy addition to the genre.

The Master

Paul Thomas Anderson’s “The Master” has one of the greatest casts in film history, of which Rami Malek happens to be a small but important part. The cult-focused film stars Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, Laura Dern, Jesse Plemons, and Jillian Bell. Hoffman plays Lancaster Dodd, the leader of a religious cult called the Cause. Dodd makes the acquaintance of Freddie Quell (Phoenix), a World War II veteran who is struggling to re-adjust to society. Dodd takes Quell under his wing, and they travel the country to spread the teachings of the movement. Malek plays Dodd’s servile son-in-law, and he spends much of the film silently reacting to Phoenix’s astounding performance.

“The Master” is arguably Paul Thomas Anderson’s most underrated film, and that’s honestly a shame. The performances are nothing short of a revelation, and Phoenix does something few actors can pull off. Even Malek, in his fairly small role, is an important cog in the film’s wily gears. Malek often has the difficult job of acting as the straight man to Phoenix’s frenzied ravings, a position he fulfills with typically quiet intensity. The film is at once unhurried and dynamic, as each performance contains an undercurrent of insidious power. Amy Adams gives the performance of a lifetime, as does Hoffman. You’d be remiss to overlook this PTA masterpiece.

Short Term 12

“Short Term 12” is a deeply sensitive film about the power of caring for others. In her first starring role, Brie Larson plays Grace, a young woman who works at a group home for teens in need. Having had a traumatic childhood herself, Grace connects deeply with her young charges and dedicates herself fully to keeping them safe. Things start to get out of hand when a new resident, Jayden (Kaitlyn Dever in a typically searing performance), brings up upsetting memories from Grace’s past.

Rami Malek plays Nate, a new supervisor at the facility. Nate clearly comes from a different background than Grace and the other residents, and he initially seems out of touch. Rather than discounting him as an ignorant rich kid, the film allows Nate to grow and develop as he realizes how important this work can be.

The film’s cast is quite impressive, and it launched the careers of many of its stars. Larson’s star rose after its release, and Dever, Lakeith Stienfeild, Stephanie Beatriz, John Gallager Jr., and Malek all got their names on the map thanks to an impressive ensemble performance. The film is written with tenderness, and the acting reflects this quality. It’s hard not to fall for a movie this expressive, and it remains one of Malek’s most remarkable projects to date.

Mr. Robot

The project that tops the list of Rami Malek’s best work is clear. His Oscar-winning performance as Freddie Mercury was impressive despite the film’s general lack of coherence, and he’s had some notable smaller parts in a few well-received films. But it’s “Mr. Robot,” the USA series he starred in from 2015 to 2019, which remains the pièce de résistance of his career. Malek plays Elliot Alderson, an antisocial computer programmer who joins an anti-capitalist hacker group. Elliot is joined by his sister, Darlene (Carly Chaikin), and a mysterious figure known only as Mr. Robot (Christian Slater). The show is as much about trauma and mental health struggles as it is about hacking, and the journey Elliot goes on is an epic tale of self-discovery.

Yet, the show is far from perfect. Season 2 is often criticized for being a little too idle. While its shocking ending remains somewhat controversial, it’s ultimately a compelling tale about family, trauma recovery, and the life-threatening evils of capitalism. Malek is astounding in the lead role, and the series is the perfect vehicle for his particular charm. Elliot is a distant and often grumpy protagonist, but Malek’s vulnerable performance reminds us that there is much more going on behind that cold exterior. Early on, it’s clear that no one could have played the role like Malek, and the rest of the cast is just as extraordinary. (It’s a shame Chaikin hasn’t received the same acclaim as her co-star.) Without a doubt, it’s a career-best performance.

Read this next: The 14 Best Film Acting Debuts Of All Time

The post 14 Best Rami Malek Movies and TV Shows, Ranked appeared first on /Film.

/Film – 14 Best Rami Malek Movies And TV Shows, Ranked
Author: Kira Deshler
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March 7, 2023

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