5 Great (Mostly) Forgotten Films of Matt Damon
Matt Damon is an award-winning actor best known for his role in the Jason Bourne franchise and his work with fellow Bostonian Ben Affleck. Getting his start in the late 1980s, he earned international acclaim for his breakout part in Good Will Hunting. From there, he has built a long career in action and dramas, becoming one of the most recognized film stars in the world. While nearly everything’s he’s starred in has been a success, there a few that have slipped under the radar. Here are 5 great (mostly) forgotten films starring Matt Damon.
The Rainmaker (1997)
DIRECTOR: Francis Ford Coppola STARS: Matt Damon, Danny DeVito
A young lawyer named Rudy Baylor (Damon) with a troubled abusive past takes up a career in law, working first as an ambulance chaser for a corrupt attorney before setting out on his own with a partner named Deck Shifflet (Danny DeVito), an insurance assessor who has yet to pass the bar exam. They soon find a big case involving a leukemia patient whose family was denied coverage from a corporate insurance firm. Along the way, Rudy meets and gets entangled with an abused woman named Kelly Riker (Claire Danes) and a deadly situation that claims her husband’s life.
Directed by the legendary Francis Ford Coppola and released just a few months prior to Damon’s sudden success in Good Will Hunting, this often overlook courtroom drama is a crackling, tense film with some standout performances from a big-name cast. Damon is well-cast and holds his own as a mostly unknown actor in a film that should have got him more attention. Put this on your list.
Geronimo: An American Legend (1993)
DIRECTOR: Walter Hill STARS: Wes Studi, Jason Patric
It’s not surprisingly that this film didn’t find an audience and is considered a box office bomb, but it’s disappointing because the story of this well-known by name but not history Native American and the world he lived in is one that deserves more recognition. While the film centers on more than just Geronimo, it’s a well-made and well-acted film that is considered mostly historically accurate, and since there are so few movies based on Native American people, it is one that should be seen.
Directed by the great Walter Hill, Damon plays Britton Davis, a young military graduate who joins Charles Gatewood (Jason Patric), a U.S. cavalry lieutenant and scout leader Al Sieber (Robert Duvall) in trying to capture the elusive Apache leader, along the way learning much about the people they are hunting and gaining respect for the man they are tasked with bringing in. With the always affecting Wes Studi in the title role, this is a film that most have forgotten but is one well worth seeing.
Titan A.E. (2000)
DIRECTOR: Don Bluth STARS: Matt Damon, Drew Barrymore
In the late 90s and early 2000s, animated films were still trying to make the combination of CGI and hand-drawn art work and in that mix was a great little sci-fi film called Titan A.E., about a far future where we witness the destruction of Earth by an alien force and one man’s quest to find the last ship of human survivors before our species goes extinct. An epic tale of adventure with lots of incredibly beautiful and visually stunning action set pieces and a truly exciting story, this was somehow a letdown at the box office despite its all-star cast.
Directed by animation legend Don Bluth, Damon plays the lead, a young man named Cale Tucker who, unbeknownst to him for fifteen years, bears a ring that carries an encoded map that reveals the location of Titan, a ship that has the ability to recreate an Earth-like planet. But there are a lot of obstacle in the way. Can Cale and his friends save humanity? Watch and find out.
DIRECTOR: Clint Eastwood STARS: Matt Damon, Cécile De France
When a French television journalist named Marie Lelay (Cécile de France) is swept away in the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, and left for dead when she couldn’t be resuscitated, she wakes on her own later and is then haunted by visions of human figures in hazy light. It is just the start of a number of intersecting tales of near death and death-related experiences that pull people of different paths together. While a box office success and mostly critically-favored, the film remains a less well-known work for Damon, despite his highly regarded, sensitive performance.
Directed by the iconic Clint Eastwood, the film was initially famous for its horrific and authentic depiction of the tsunami disaster, later to be eclipsed by The Impossible (2012). That aside, this decidedly dark yet uplifting story features some very personal performances and Eastwood’s gentle, patient direction make for a truly satisfying experience. Don’t miss this.
Green Zone (2010)
DIRECTOR: Paul Greengrass STARS: Matt Damon, Jason Isaacs
After great success in the Bourne series, director Greengrass and Damon team up for another action adventure that is for all intents and purposes Bourne-esque in its approach but nonetheless just as thrilling. During the Iraqi invasion, there are repeated reports of caches full of weapons of mass destruction in the Iraqi Green Zone. U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer Roy Miller (Damon) and his platoon are tasked with securing these locations, but as Miller discovers, all are empty and he begins to question the intel. A massive cover-up is suspected and things get ugly fast.
Directed by Greengrass, who retains his usual fast-paced herky-jerky camera style though to less degree as the Bourne films, this often forgotten film is as much an action film as is it a political skewering. Damon is perfectly cast, with his natural physically imposting stature mixed with his boyish naive looking face making him the right choice for a man on a mission of discovery. A great Damon action flick.