Tuesday, 27 April 2010
The astronomical rise of Sam Worthington is a mystery to me. Does he perform sexual favours for directors? Does he have a micro-film containing pictures of certain studio-bosses in compromising situations? Has he sold his soul to Satan?
If he had made any kind of impact in the films he has been thrust front-and-centre of in the past year or so, you could almost say Worthington had exploded into the industry. Blown up. Smashed his way onto the A-list. But as it is, it's more like he's kind of just suddenly THERE, like a piece of furniture or a shop-front mannequin.
Worthy is the new go-to guy for broody, stoic action hero performances that plumb shallow depths of emotion, and characterisation that amounts to nothing more than a blank-slate for audiences to project themselves onto.
Don't get me wrong, the man seems like a decent, down-to-earth bloke; ruggedly handsome, looks like he could do you in if he wanted to, but I cannot fathom why he has become the leading man of choice for so many high-profile projects when, on the strength of the performances I have seen him give, he is not up to the task.
I first experienced Worthy in the slightly dull "Terminator: Salvation" and, from the outset, I was thinking "That guy sounds Australian to me". His half-hearted accent was the weakest part of an otherwise solid, if a little bland performance marred by some terrible dialogue and the overall sombre tone of the film.
Then he was in the Giant Blue Cat-People film. You know the one. This was a slightly more colourful performance in more ways than the obvious, as his Jake Sully starts out as an arrogant prick and has to turn into some kind of noble warrior type thing, but still Worthington struggles with the American accent. He often sounds like an Aussie bricklayer who has stumbled onto the set and said "I can do a yank accent!" moments before they rolled. Hang on...
Sully spends about 60% of the film dressed as one of the blue cat people, so Worthington's performance had to be captured by computer and animated digitally, which must have been nigh-on impossible as he delivers another somnabulist turn punctuated by one or two humanising flourishes: a smile here, puppy-dog eyes there, which only serve to accentuate what a void he is for the rest of the duration.
Of course, the actors are second fiddle to the images in "Avatar", but Worthington is dominated by everyone else in the film. Zoe Saldana is emotional, expressive and dynamic, while Stephen Lang, Sigourney Weaver and Giovanni Ribisi repeatedly run away with scenes while Worthington is busy furrowing his brow.
Now, some would say that this is a performance of subtlety and texture, but I would say "BALLS" to that. It's as though Worthy simply can't be arsed a lot of the time, like he's not convinced by the part or the script or something. He's just riding it out until they call "cut" and he can go to the pub.
In "Clash of the Titans", Worthy plays Perseus in the same manner he's performed in every film I've seen him in. Like a lunk-headed scrum-half with an emotion-bypass. His family get killed. He frowns a bit and doesn't say much. He finds out he's the son of a god. He frowns a bit more. Etc. And he doesn't even seem to be attempting to disguise his Aussie accent this time!
It's not that I find Mr Worthington particularly bad, it's just that, on the strength of these films, he is no more charismatic or convincing on screen than Keanu Reeves or Orlando Bloom (for example), and yet he is suddenly the next big thing, expected to carry HUGE movies on his own back and kick off massive opening weekends.
He has a burly physicality, for sure (the scene in "Terminator" where he kicks in the heads of Moon Bloodgood's would-be rapers was brutal and believable), and I must admit that I haven't seen any of his smaller, earlier work such as "Somersault" or "Rogue", but I genuinely can't grasp why Worthington has gone from bit-parts and indies to blockbuster figurehead overnight. What's the deal?