Total Recall

Pierce Brosnan's 10 Best Movies

In this installment of Total Recall, we count down the best-reviewed work of the star of AMC's new series, The Son.

by | April 4, 2017 | Comments

This weekend, Pierce Brosnan stars in AMC’s The Son, a western drama based on Philipp Meyer’s eponymous novel about a Texas family’s rise to power during the early 1900s. It’s further evidence that the Irish actor’s career consists of so much more than just characters with a certain set of skills; in fact, he’s been part of a long series of critically acclaimed — and eclectic — projects. How many of your favorites match up with the critics? Let’s start the countdown and find out!

10. Evelyn (2002) 64%

Brosnan reunited with Mister Johnson director Bruce Beresford for 2002’s Evelyn, a fact-based drama about an underemployed single father in 1950s Ireland (Brosnan) whose struggle to find a steady job ends up costing him custody of his three children — and inspires him to take on the system by fighting to get them back in court. While some critics dismissed Evelyn as manipulative, well-meaning fluff, others succumbed to the undeniable pull of a well-acted, heart-tugging drama. “From any other filmmaker, Evelyn would be merely a forgettable good intention,” admitted the Washington Post’s Ann Hornaday, “but when you consider that Beresford is the man who brought us Black Robe and Breaker Morant, it approaches heartbreak.”

Watch Trailer

9. The Thomas Crown Affair (1999) 70%

You’ve gotta have chutzpah to try remaking a Steve McQueen classic, so even if director John McTiernan’s 1999 update on The Thomas Crown Affair had turned out to be a complete dud, you’d have to give Pierce Brosnan credit simply for agreeing to step into the iconic tough guy’s shoes. Happily for all concerned, the new-look Crown turned out to be not only a worthwhile diversion for caper flick fans, but a relatively rare example of an action-adventure movie that isn’t overpopulated with twentysomething stars. Opined Jeffrey Overstreet for Looking Closer, “For those who still have a shred of sophistication left, and an appreciation for mind games rather than mere shock-treatment, here’s a summer movie for you.”

Watch Trailer

8. The Fourth Protocol (1987) 74%

The 1980s brought us countless spy thrillers with portentous-sounding titles, starring steely countenanced, suavely accented dudes wielding pistols in pursuit of microchips, bombs, and the like, so a person could be forgiven for passing over 1987’s The Fourth Protocol in the mistaken belief that it was just another one of the many generic entries in that oft-abused genre. They’d still be missing out, however, because Protocol is an uncommonly smart 1980s spy thriller, adapted by Frederick Forsythe from his own novel and starring Brosnan and Michael Caine as, respectively, the evil Russian and the British agent who’s trying to catch him. Foreshadowing Brosnan’s cinematic future, the Washington Post’s Desson Thomson wrote, “Protocol is espionage as exhilarating as the better Bond, but with less of the winky camp. This is deadly stuff: We see just how easy atomic terrorism would be.”

Watch Trailer

7. Mrs. Doubtfire (1993) 71%

It was Robin Williams who undoubtedly got most of Mrs. Doubtfire‘s laughs — and carried the movie, as well as several pounds of latex, while wearing a dress — but when considering the vast appeal of this hit 1993 comedy, we must not discount the charming, subtly bewildered work of Pierce Brosnan as Stuart “Stu” Dunmire, a guy who just wants to date Sally Field but ends up the victim of cinema’s first and only run-by fruiting. “In terms of plot, the film is rather feeble,” admitted ReelViews’ James Berardinelli. “But sometimes there’s more to a movie than story, and this is one of those rare occasions when all the other elements pull together and lift the production.”

Watch Trailer

6. Love Is All You Need (2013) 75%

Bond films notwithstanding, Brosnan’s spent a significant portion of his film career taking on roles that downplay his rakish charm. But every so often he’ll sign up for a project like Love Is All You Need, director Susanne Bier’s gorgeous, souffle-light romance about the beautifully shot sparks that fly when an English widower living in Denmark (Brosnan) crosses paths with a jilted hairdresser (Trine Dyrholm). While Bier may not have been able to resist a number of rom-com cliches, the end result proved sufficiently fresh to melt most critics’ hearts, chiefly because of the seemingly effortless chemistry between Love‘s two eye-pleasing leads. “We’ve seen enough romantic comedy to know these two are destined to fall for each other,” wrote the Miami Herald’s Connie Ogle, “but Bier is that rare filmmaker who can make you wonder if there will actually be a happy ending.”

Watch Trailer

5. The Matador (2006) 75%

What could an ordinary businessman and a worn-out hitman possibly have in common? In the real world, maybe not much. But in Richard Shepard’s The Matador, that unlikely-seeming setup provides the grist for a quirky, darkly funny buddy flick starring Greg Kinnear as the businessman and Brosnan as the assassin. His post-Bond work generally hasn’t been as high-profile as the films he starred in as 007, but Brosnan’s success on her majesty’s secret service has freed him up to take offbeat roles in offbeat projects, and here, critics argued that the results were richly rewarding. According to eFilmCritic’s Rob Gonsalves, “Brosnan’s work as a monster who’d like to become human, but has no idea how, is painfully funny.”

Watch Trailer

4. The Tailor of Panama (2001) 77%

When you sit down to watch a John le Carré spy movie, you know you aren’t going to get a lot of the stuff we tend to depend on for our espionage thrills; gunplay, car chases, and general derring-do are downplayed in favor of literate, relatively dense plots that derive their quietly building tension from small, impeccably performed moments. The results tend not to cause much of a stir at the box office, where The Tailor of Panama failed to make a major dent, but they’re generally well-received by critics, and this is no exception: Director John Boorman’s adaptation of le Carré’s 1996 novel about a disgraced spy (Brosnan) who gets mixed up with a tailor (Geoffrey Rush) he tries to convert into an MI6 asset won praise from writers eager to absorb a smart thriller for grownups. As Peter Rainer warned for New York Magazine, “If you think the spy-thriller genre has been streamlined and spoofed and subverted until nothing new can be done to it, think again.”

Watch Trailer

3. GoldenEye (1995) 78%

Years after missing out on the opportunity to play James Bond due to his Remington Steele commitments, Brosnan finally grabbed the martini glass for 1995’s GoldenEye, restoring the layer of suave menace and playful humor that many viewers felt the character had been missing for far too long. Like most Bond flicks, it was a sizable hit, but it also struck a chord with critics, most of whom pointed to Brosnan’s performance as a key component of GoldenEye‘s success. Calling him “Lean, dark and graceful,” TV Guide’s Maitland McDonagh wrote, “Brosnan wraps his perfectly calculated accent around all the standard phrases without making us hear quotation marks.”

Watch Trailer

2. Mister Johnson (1991) 82%

For his follow-up to the Oscar-winning Driving Miss Daisy, director Bruce Beresford returned to matters of race, taking viewers to West Africa in the 1920s to tell the story of the titular clerk (Maynard Eziashi) of a British administrator (Brosnan). Johnson’s desperate need to fit in with white society drives him to ill-advised actions — and although they benefit Brosnan’s character greatly in the short run, Johnson tragically fails to understand that his social status will always leave him vulnerable to the whims of others. While many critics accused Beresford of taking the same unaccountably light hand with Mister Johnson‘s themes that he had with Daisy, the majority felt that the end justified the means; as Chris Hicks argued for the Deseret News, “We care about Mister Johnson even while he’s annoying. And we hope for him to acknowledge his weaknesses, even while we anticipate his downfall.”

Watch Trailer

1. The Ghost Writer (2010) 84%

Brosnan stepped in front of the cameras for Roman Polanski with 2010’s The Ghost Writer, a political thriller that takes veiled shots at former British Prime Minister Tony Blair with a deep vein of black humor. Starring as a former PM whose potentially duplicitous deeds threaten to come to light during the writing of his memoirs — possibly threatening the life of his ghostwriter (Ewan McGregor) — he was clearly having a good time, and that light touch helps keep Writer‘s tension from becoming overbearing. “The great thing about Brosnan’s performance is that his character’s shadow looms over the entire film,” wrote Matt Neal for the Standard, “yet Brosnan never resorts to chewing the scenery or becoming a Blair caricature.”

Watch Trailer

Tag Cloud

docudrama TBS golden globes Fox Searchlight revenge disaster Year in Review twilight National Geographic Acorn TV The CW YA spy thriller CBS finale Musical versus remakes Sundance TV Academy Awards Warner Bros. Apple Video Games discovery GIFs Apple TV Plus strong female leads Calendar TCA Awards Animation Thanksgiving Amazon Prime nfl dogs Rock MSNBC Quiz Christmas DC Universe Star Wars Comedy game of thrones Stephen King GoT chucky 72 Emmy Awards Black History Month zero dark thirty The Purge movie worst movies Binge Guide Lucasfilm sequel TruTV christmas movies Disney+ Disney Plus Hulu japanese what to watch E3 Election Watching Series 4/20 Mary Tyler Moore Kids & Family Cosplay criterion batman Oscars DGA SDCC Mystery Emmy Nominations archives Summer french comedies BAFTA TCA 2017 sports Amazon Studios dramedy Family American Society of Cinematographers latino Valentine's Day richard e. Grant psychological thriller BBC America Tarantino anime spanish Trivia Cartoon Network reboot Emmys Television Academy Nat Geo social media documentaries YouTube Premium Film breaking bad concert PlayStation ABC comic books Pride Month crime History WGN Classic Film Columbia Pictures sequels Ellie Kemper Holidays MCU Awards Tour Nominations Walt Disney Pictures Fantasy psycho TV Land indiana jones stop motion Esquire documentary Shondaland Fall TV Opinion NYCC The Academy Extras period drama TLC DirecTV mockumentary witnail child's play toy story 2016 casting festival Food Network romantic comedy The Arrangement Spectrum Originals LGBTQ Best and Worst Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt australia Superheroes cartoon composers Captain marvel Super Bowl ratings DC streaming service historical drama serial killer name the review 2019 SundanceTV Action Premiere Dates spanish language tv talk Holiday Heroines USA cars FX CBS All Access Trophy Talk obituary joker facebook hispanic Starz game show politics Box Office Chernobyl Horror best ABC Family award winner 20th Century Fox video MTV Disney streaming service Country Podcast Pirates Nickelodeon USA Network TV worst science fiction canceled TV shows comics venice IFC First Reviews Paramount Network supernatural Sundance Music 2018 Awards Brie Larson free movies Crunchyroll The Walking Dead Turner AMC Sony Pictures cats Travel Channel Britbox Rocketman Hallmark Christmas movies foreign BET Awards Sundance Now First Look franchise ID ITV adventure doctor who E! Disney Channel scorecard DC Comics OWN medical drama Pixar space independent cancelled diversity unscripted screen actors guild Tubi green book Paramount stoner biography GLAAD Disney Plus stand-up comedy natural history Western satire Tomatazos political drama indie travel ESPN spinoff sitcom zombies OneApp Netflix Marvel Studios Musicals true crime SXSW vampires thriller book Countdown 45 Lifetime Christmas movies Peacock cancelled television technology 2017 blaxploitation Star Trek PBS Endgame dragons VICE Women's History Month Anna Paquin Epix talk show BBC One binge Spring TV Mary poppins Biopics universal monsters hollywood Teen mutant TIFF cults cinemax renewed TV shows Arrowverse reviews Hallmark HBO Max The Witch Television Critics Association 2020 Certified Fresh nbcuniversal President all-time VH1 superhero Marvel Television cancelled TV series toronto NBC Photos PaleyFest elevated horror spain halloween tv Interview video on demand scary movies IFC Films Toys news Black Mirror Set visit Masterpiece spider-man New York Comic Con Pet Sematary BBC critics nature Pop streaming cooking aliens children's TV halloween animated ghosts singing competition Song of Ice and Fire emmy awards Ghostbusters 2015 werewolf Reality harry potter CNN RT History hist mission: impossible Polls and Games Marvel Fox News kids asian-american Trailer HBO Go BET Comics on TV TCA Martial Arts based on movie TV renewals films Lionsgate romance cancelled TV shows CW Seed dceu classics rotten movies we love Netflix Christmas movies 21st Century Fox theme song A24 blockbuster Universal Discovery Channel FX on Hulu TNT series directors rotten sag awards black Film Festival Mindy Kaling Tumblr Schedule die hard El Rey APB Dark Horse Comics slashers Crackle Spike Amazon Adult Swim Sci-Fi laika Comic Book crossover Infographic Drama Superheroe football Mudbound teaser Chilling Adventures of Sabrina cops Freeform RT21 fast and furious boxoffice canceled Cannes Comedy Central Elton John south america Funimation Hear Us Out Sneak Peek Creative Arts Emmys HBO Bravo Syfy anthology Ovation zombie comic comiccon movies 71st Emmy Awards Shudder Avengers Lifetime A&E crime thriller Baby Yoda Winter TV Rocky WarnerMedia Winners X-Men war See It Skip It miniseries festivals 007 TCA Winter 2020 Turner Classic Movies italian Reality Competition screenings quibi San Diego Comic-Con a nightmare on elm street CMT dark Apple TV+ police drama Mary Poppins Returns Amazon Prime Video robots Rom-Com Character Guide Disney Marathons YouTube Red TCM Red Carpet Logo YouTube adaptation jamie lee curtis crime drama transformers FXX LGBT dc Showtime parents Vudu VOD Pop TV justice league Grammys Writers Guild of America television 24 frames FOX