Denzel Washington's latest sci-fi/action film, Deja Vu, opened on November 22nd to mixed reviews. The overall impression seems to be that Denzel's grounded and emotionally pitch-perfect performance saves the murky plot from being a total let-down. In fact, Denzel could take virtually any half-baked movie premise and make it engaging, so have a little deja vu with one of Hollywood's most talented actors and put these old favorites in your Netflix queue.
The Preacher's Wife
This is probably my favorite Denzel movie of all time, as cheesy as that sounds. He's just so darn charming, funny, and handsome. He plays an angel sent from God to help the Reverend Henry Biggs, who is struggling to keep his marriage to Julia (Whitney Houston) intact while property developer Joe Hamilton (Gregory Hines) is threatening to destroy his church and build a funky new mega-church. Because this movie is called The Preacher's Wife and has Whitney Houston in it, it is largely about her, but Denzel is the truly divine member of this cast. Also, its great music and holiday setting make this an especially fun movie to watch now.
For two more Denzel films,
Man On Fire
In this movie, we are treated to both Denzel-the-tough-guy and Denzel-the-softhearted-dad-type. Set in Mexico City, the movie has Denzel playing John Creasy, a haggard, alcoholic ex-assassin for the CIA who, for lack of anything else to do, agrees to serve as the bodyguard for industrialist Samuel Ramos' daughter Pita, played by Dakota Fanning. Fanning is at her precocious best here and succeeds in worming her way into Creasy's heart. When she is kidnapped, Creasy is frantic to find her and swears vengeance on anyone involved in the abduction. While it isn't the happiest of movies, it is worth watching if only to see the sweet relationship between Creasy and Pita develop.
Though Tom Hanks took the Oscar for his performance in Philadelphia, many argue that Denzel deserved one as well. Denzel plays Joe Miller, a homophobic lawyer who helps fellow attorney, gay HIV-positive Andrew Beckett (Hanks), make a wrongful termination case against his conservative law firm. Over time, Joe and Andy form a friendship, and Joe races against time to try and win Andy's case before AIDS can take over Andy's body. This is one of those "important" movies about the power of love over prejudice.