Skip to content

Whatever Happened to Eric Bana?

November 3, 2012

Remember when Eric Bana was the Next Big Thing? Or the Next Incredible Hulk? He seemingly came out of nowhere—well, the Australian stand-up comic scene (who knew there was one?)—to get cast as Bruce Banner in Ang Lee’s shoulda-been-great 2003 snoozer Hulk. Prior to that, he’d only been known Stateside for a role as a soldier in Ridley Scott’s Black Hawk Down, but the real star of that movie was a helicopter—who could tell the actors apart? He’d also made a splash Down Under as a notorious Aussie criminal in Chopper (and no, the title doesn’t refer to a copter), but that movie barely made a dent in the domestic box office.

Still, Hulk was enough to put Bana on Hollywood’s A-list for a while. He donned a toga with Brad Pitt and Orlando Bloom (remember him?) in Wolfgang Petersen’s Troy, and —in his finest U.S. screen work to date—played a coolly efficient Israeli assassin in Steven Spielberg’s underrated Munich. His luck started to change, ironically enough, with Lucky You, his long-delayed poker romance with Drew Barrymore, which crapped out at the box office.

He got sidetracked into a couple of chick-lit adaptations that did middling business at best—The Other Boleyn Girl and The Time Traveler’s Wife—and failed to cash in on a couple of big opportunities in the summer of 2009. It must’ve seemed like a good idea at the time to play Nero, the villain of J.J. Abrams’ astronomically successful Star Trek reboot, but he was so buried under prosthetics that he was impossible to recognize (Ricardo Montalban would’ve never allowed that!). And a return to his comedic roots as a vengeful husband  in Funny People led nowhere, as nobody else in the Judd Apatow’s cancer dramedy’s cast attempted to embody the title.

After 2011’s teen-assassin opus Hanna failed to jumpstart his career, Bana’s reaching back to his Chopper days with the enjoyably lurid crime drama Deadfall, now available on VOD in advance of its theatrical release next month. Adopting an Alabama accent, Bana pleasingly chews the scenery as Addison, a casino robber who goes on the lam with his incestuously close sister, Liza (Olivia Wilde, who goes wild once again after her turn as a bisexual pole dancer in the criminally overlooked Butter). They split up, and Liza hooks up with an ex-con Olympic-medal winning boxer (Sons of Anarchy‘s Charlie Hunnam), who takes her home to meet his parents (Kris Kristofferson, who may in fact be carved out of wood at this point, and Sissy Spacek). When Addison all-too-conveniently shows up at the folks’ house just in time for a holiday dinner, the result is the Worst. Thanksgiving. Ever.

There’s also a silly subplot about a local deputy (the perenially miscast Kate Mara) trying to prove herself to her sheriff dad (Treat Williams), but on the whole, Deadfall is a fun B-movie, especially for fans of snowbound crime sagas like A Simple Plan or Fargo (though not as overtly comedic as the latter). It will not, however, reverse Bana’s career freefall. Maybe one of his next films—the terrorism-themed courtroom drama Closed Circuit (with Rebecca Hall) or the Black Hawk Down-esque wartime actioner Lone Survivor (with Mark Wahlberg)—will do the trick. Otherwise, he’d better hope Mark Ruffalo pulls an Ed Norton and alienates the folks at Marvel so he can get another shot at transforming himself into a box-office Hulk.

Eric Bana: What went wrong? Post your theories!


From → Posts

  1. Peter Gerstenzang permalink

    Nice work. Lucky You is a gem!

  2. Sutry permalink

    He went to America, that’s what went wrong. You leave the greatest country on earth and it’s all down hill from there. Watch Chopper, one of the best Aussie films of all time, pure rawness. And youtube ‘Eric Banner comedy’ for a good laugh. The guy really had talent up until Hollywood.

  3. John permalink

    Bana has talent, as can be seen in the brilliant Chopper, however, he was a shooting star in Hollywood….never was apart of the A-list crowd….square peg in a round hole.

  4. Jack Mcgregor permalink

    Bana never fitted into the Hollywood A-list crowd.
    After Troy, Bana, Pitt and Oprah sat on the couch discussing the movie. Bana looked so out of place and tried desperately to look the sophisticated, serious actor…..but instead looked more like a cardboard cut-out.
    He’s a brilliant comedian, and his performance in Chopper was A class fantastic. But lets face the truth, he doesn’t have what it takes to be a permanent member of the Hollywood elite.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. The Fretts on Film Interview: Olivia Wilde « Fretts on Film

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: