I got to thinking about elevators while watching The Mechanic—which says something about The Mechanic, doesn’t it? (Quick review: Is it good? No. Is it over-the-top action entertainment? Yes. Will you like it? You will if you a) like over-the-top action movies and b) can prevent yourself from focusing too much on the story. Like Unstoppable, there’s just barely enough exposition to get things rolling before everything is guns and explosions. Strictly speaking, not a good movie, but it wasn’t lazy and I enjoyed it anyway.) So anyway, I’m watching The Mechanic and thinking about elevators and then this thought occurs to me:
Elevators make everything better.
What got me to thinking about elevators was Ben Foster. Specifically, Ben Foster is an elevator. No, not a vertical-lifting device, but he’s an elevator in that he makes everything around him of a higher quality. The Mechanic would have been repulsive without him, for whatever his physical strengths, Jason Statham isn’t the most engaging and/or likeable screen presence. Yet Foster, even while playing a complete fucking psycho, is oddly charismatic and sympathetic.
This talent is also on display in 3:10 to Yuma, in which Foster plays leather-clad gunman “Charlie Prince”, who also happens to be a complete fucking psycho (character trend?). This is my favorite of two of Foster’s performances (the other being the soul-destroying The Messenger). 3:10 to Yuma is a good movie, a solid example of when a remake is better than the original, but for as much as it was billed as the movie where “those two unpleasant dudes kill each other” (Christian Bale and Russell Crowe), it’s Foster’s electrifying performance that leaves the most indelible mark. Seriously, go watch that movie and tell me he isn’t the most compelling thing on screen. 3:10 to Yuma is already a perfectly fine Western but Foster raises it to “you gotta see this” status.
And consider that piece of trash X-Men: The Last Stand (or don’t, because IT NEVER HAPPENED). Foster played “Archangel” and I wish he’d gotten way more screen time. His plot line—privileged youth exhibits mutant powers and tries to hide it because his dad is an anti-mutant bigot—was so much more interesting than that pouting love triangle mess that forever ruined Rogue, Ice Man and Kitty Pride. With a limited role, Foster could only do so much for X3 but for about thirty-seven seconds it was an engaging movie thanks to him.
What about when Foster is in a really good movie? Well, as in Yuma’s case, he just makes it better. The Messenger was the most-overlooked movie of 2009. Woody Harrelson ended up getting some awards attention for it but Foster was totally ignored. That’s the thing about elevators, though. You never really appreciate them until you have to walk up forty flights of stairs. If you haven’t seen The Messenger, it’s a major bummer of a movie but Harrelson and Foster are brilliant, and I think Harrelson rose to the occasion because of the supreme amount of awesome Foster was throwing down from the first frame.
Elevators make everything better and Ben Foster might be the best elevator working today.