With the announcement that Daniel Craig is stepping away from the role of James Bond after a slew of hit movies, fans of the franchise can look back fondly on his revolutionary performance. When it comes to revolutionizing the Bond franchise, few actors did it with as much panache as Pierce Brosnan.
Though Brosnan is most known for playing the martini sipping super spy, he had a long and successful career before and after he donned the signature tuxedo. From family comedies like Mrs. Doubtfire to dramatic thrillers like The Thomas Crown Affairsome of Brosnan’s best non-007 roles scored big on IMDb.
10 The Matador (2005) – 6.7
Stepping into a role that was very familiar after his stint as Bond, Brosnan’s turn in The Matador was right up his alley. A soft-spoken salesman and a lonely hitman meet in a bar in Mexico, and form an odd friendship that brings their worlds together in a way they could never have dreamed was possible.
The duo of Greg Kinnear and Brosnan was a perfect casting choice, and each steps into their roles with aplomb. Not only is the film action packed, but it is shot through with enough comedy to keep the audience thoroughly entertained. Even though it was an independent film, The Matador still wrangled a strong supporting cast including veteran actors like Phillip Baker Hall.
9 No Escape (2015) – 6.7
No Escape came and went with little fanfare upon release, but it was nevertheless an exciting action thriller with a great cast. An American family relocates to Asia but soon finds themselves in the middle of a deadly coup that threatens the lives of every foreigner living in the country.
Pierce Brosnan appears as Hammond, a tough-as-nails ex-patriot who helps the family escape, and he proves that he still had what it took to be an action star. One of the film’s strongest aspects is its cast, and Owen Wilson goes a long way to lend legitimacy to the story. Unfortunately for the film, its xenophobic undertones turned many viewers away, and it tainted a lot of what was good about the film.
8 The Thomas Crown Affair (1999) – 6.8
Coming as a remake of one of Steve McQueen’s most iconic films, The Thomas Crown Affair added a modern flair to its classic story. An extremely wealthy playboy finds amusement in stealing priceless pieces of art, however he soon meets his match in the form of a detective who is tracking him down.
In the midst of his run as Bond, Brosnan brings the charm up to almost impossible proportions. The film is dripping with seductive energy and it still manages to be a tense thriller as well. Brosnan had shown that he could be suave in the 007 films, but The Thomas Crown Affair allowed him to add layers to his performance, and carry a tiny bit of sinister energy into the part.
7 The World’s End (2013) – 6.9
Adept at all types of roles, Brosnan stepped into more comedic shoes in The World’s End. The film follows a group of childhood friends who reunite in an effort to relive their epic pub crawl from twenty years earlier. While on their alcohol-buelled quest, they discover a sinister plot to replace humanity with replicants.
Stuffed with great Sci-Fi references throughout, The World’s End is a love letter to some of the best Science Fiction of all time. Brosnan plays Mr. Shepherd, one of the character’s favorite schoolteachers, and delivers a brilliantly subtle performance. While the film may not be the best remembered Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg team up, it was certainly one of their most ambitious.
6 Evelyn (2002) – 7.0
A period piece and a gripping drama all rolled into one, Evelyn allowed fans to see a more emotional side to the James Bond actor. After his wife leaves him in the winter of 1953, a man loses his job, and subsequently finds his children have been taken into protective custody. Determined to get his life back on track, the man does anything he can to get his children back.
Capturing the Dublin of the ’50s, Evelyn is a heart-wrenching character piece that allows Brosnan to truly flex his muscles as an actor. The audience finds themselves rooting for Desmond to succeed, and every new challenge threatens to tear the viewers heart out in dramatic fashion. Ultimately, the film is about the importance of family, and the possibilities of redemption.
5 The Foreigner (2017) – 7.0
Playing second fiddle to another action film legend, Brosnan opts for a more subtle character piece in The Foreigner. When a London businessman has everything he loved taken away from him by senseless murder, he goes on a mission of revenge that runs him afoul of an Irish government official.
Though Jackie Chan is usually known for his intense stunts, The Foreigner instead showed an evolution of the actor’s career into a more subtle hero. Chan is counterbalanced by a great performance from Pierce Brosnan as a former IRA terrorist, and he is the perfect foil for the imminently likable Chan. While the film is still action packed, it is not the mile-a-minute thriller that fans had come to expect from the likes of Jackie Chan.
4 Remember Me (2010) – 7.1
Authoritative roles have always been Brosnan’s strong suit, and in Remember Me he got a chance to play one such character to its fullest. The film follows a pair of young lovers in the summer of 2001, who unite based on their mutual familial traumas.
A coming of age story with a darker edge, Remember Me offered viewers a force de tour performance from its lead Robert Pattinson. Brosnan plays Pattinson’s father, and is simultaneously authoritative and broken. While the film teeters on the edge of being melodramatic, it is saved by brilliant writing and strong performances from its young leads.
3 Mrs. Doubtfire (1993) – 7.1
Playing the straight man to Robin Williams’ over-the-top performance, Brosnan helped to craft one of the late comedian’s funniest films. Devastated by his divorce, a TV actor goes undercover as a nanny in order to be part of his children’s lives.
Brosnan is the perfect counterbalance as Sally Fields’ smarmy new boyfriend. Mrs. Doubtfire is a not only a great movie because it is funny, it soar because it manages to be heartwarming and heart-wrenching simultaneously. Though the conceit of the film is farcical, the viewer can not help but root for the family to reunite.
2 The Ghost Writer (2010) – 7.2
Never straying too far from the political thriller genre, Brosnan assumes the role of one of the most powerful people in Great Britain in The Ghost Writer. When a ghost writer is hired to work on the memoirs of a former British prime minister, he slowly begins to uncover a sinister conspiracy that has international implications.
Anchored mostly by a stellar performance from Ewan McGregor, The Ghost Writer is equal parts mystery and thriller rolled into one film. Brosnan plays the former prime minister and is his usual self in authoritative role with a dark secret. The film is a great primer on British politics, and is just as gripping as any American intrigue movie.
1 The Long Good Friday (1980) – 7.6
Everyone has to start somewhere, and the crime thriller The Long Good Friday was one of Brosnan’s earliest films. While hosting an American mobster, an up-and-coming British gang leader finds his turf stepped on by a rival gang.
Told over the span of one grueling day, The Long Good Friday is a pinnacle in Bob Hoskins’ career. Brosnan appears briefly as an Irish mob member, but showed flashes of brilliance that would spark his career in the 1980s. The Long Good Friday is essentially a film about a downward spiral, and the audience is left on the edge of their seat by each new shocking development that threatens to ruin the life of Hoskins’ mobster character.
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