A reader asked why 65-year-old Harrison Ford would make a fifth appearance as Indiana Jones, 15 years after the last one. (That would be the 50-year-old Indy on one episode of TV's “The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles.”)
Why WOULDN'T he? He's had exactly one hit, the muddled murder mystery “What Lies Beneath,” in the last 11 years. “Crystal Skull” will rocket him to the top of the box office for what might be the last time in his 42-year film career.
Part of the problem is that he insists on tough-guy action roles most of the time, second-level Humphrey Bogart stuff with disposable scripts. If he had been used properly by directors – or let himself be used – he'd have an Oscar by now.
A look back over his career reveals good movies and bad in roughly equal measure. Here are the five best and five worst performances I've seen him give, outside of the “Star Wars” and “Indiana Jones” movies. Note the chronology, alas:The best
“Blade Runner” (1982) – Man hunts down futuristic replicants who threaten humanity, then discovers secrets about himself. A chilly masterwork.
“Witness” (1985) – Ford earned his only Oscar nomination as a Philadelphia cop who enters Amish country to find a killer and falls in love.
“The Mosquito Coast” (1986) – An eccentric inventor moves wife and children to Costa Rica and drives them mad. Allegedly his favorite.
“Presumed Innocent” (1990) – A deputy prosecutor investigates the murder of his former mistress, then realizes someone is framing him for the killing. Smart film, strong acting.
“The Fugitive” (1993) – Speaking of being framed for a woman's murder, this has Ford on the run from implacable Tommy Lee Jones. The train crash was shot in western N.C.
“The Devil's Own” (1997) – A police officer (Ford) realizes his houseguest is an IRA terrorist. The star and Brad Pitt walk halfheartedly through it.
“Six Days, Seven Nights” (1998) – Anne Heche, marooned with pilot Ford, yawps and screeches like a sick parrot. He merely looks pained.
“K-19: The Widowmaker” (2002) – Ford vit Rooshun occent as commander of malfunctioning nuclear submarine. An honorable failure.
“Hollywood Homicide” (2003) – LAPD detectives investigate rappers' deaths. Josh Hartnett narrowly edges Ford in the dullness sweepstakes.
“Firewall” (2006) – Ford has rarely seemed so tired as in this “Air Force One”-in-a-bank non-thriller. Like that was a good idea to start with anyway.