At 70 years old, Mickey Rourke has definitely solidified himself in Hollywood folklore, but for two very polarising reasons.
For some, they choose to recognise him for movies like The Rainmaker, Man On Fire and Sin City, which are among the best in Hollywood’s history.
For others, they choose to recognise Rourke for movies like Iron Man II, The Informers and Harley Davidson & The Marlboro Man, which are among the worst.
But while Rourke has dabbled on both ends of the Hollywood spectrum, it’s hard to deny his skills as an actor and the gravitas that he brings to every role – even if that role is playing Harley Davidson in a buddy-action-romance adventure-dystopian thriller.
Speaking of the “thriller” genre, this is what Rourke really nails. Whether good or bad, Mickey Rourke always gives his all to make his scenes a success.
With this in mind, we’re going to honour Rourke by talking about these scenes, taking into account his entire thriller filmography, no matter how good or bad the movies actually are!
Sin City: The Poker Game
Let’s start with a good one. Sin City: A Dame To Kill For is recognised as one of the best crime thrillers in history, and the poker scene is a perfect example of why it’s so good. In this scene, cocky gambler Johnny – played by Mickey Rourke – invites a waitress to play poker with him against the powerful Senator Roark. Put simply, it’s a cool scene, and Rourke radiates that cool perfectly.
Over the last few years, the movie – and this scene in particular – has found even more love due to the influx of casino players in the online space. With more people playing slots and online poker, casino scenes that explore the psychology of playing are even more sought after than they were before. After all, when playing games with multiple jackpots, we all want to imitate the same calm and collectivism that Rourke demonstrates to win one of them – even if we can’t quite be as cool as him while doing it!
Harley Davidson & The Marlboro Man
Well, we said we were gonna talk about the bad movies as well as the good ones! While this film as a whole might be a bit meh, there are certain scenes that are pretty thrilling. This includes the “building fall” scene towards the end of the movie. The scene is a perfect example of Rourke’s cheeky charm, mixed with a building of tension that slowly reveals itself as the scene develops.
Toward the end of the scene, Rourke manages to switch from one emotion to another with ease, urging the audience to feel more and more unsettled as they know something’s coming… and then that something turns out to be a big chopper that blows everything to smithereens. Hey, you either love it or you hate it.
The Rainmaker perhaps shouldn’t be on this list, as Rourke only plays a small cameo, but it’s a testament to the actor that this cameo can be named on a list of his best scenes. Put simply, Rourke nails the role of Bruiser Stone, managing to completely encapsulate the feel of the character from one of the most faithful John Grisham’s novel adaptations. While it doesn’t read well on paper, playing a sleazy lawyer was one of the best things to happen to his career at the time.
In the 90s, Rourke had faded away a little from the popular culture zeitgeist, with directors a little wary of placing him in films where he could steal the show and garner attention, perhaps for the wrong reasons. For Francis Ford Coppola, however, he wanted to take the risk, and it certainly paid off. This movie is one of the best crime films ever, one that’s simply not talked about enough. The scene in which Rourke talks to Matt Damon’s character, sitting behind a desk is full of cunning and premeditation on Rourke’s part. He manages to give such a sleazy character a touch of class and charm, turning him from a cameo into a character everyone would remember when they leave the theatre. And remember him, they did.
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