Denzel Washington remains one of Hollywood’s coolest leading men, and he’s been especially smart about avoiding controversy in an age of hyper-partisanship and political bad faith actors.
A steadfast Christian who isn’t afraid to voice it, Washington has repeatedly pushed for the betterment of black communities across America, by sticking to a positive and constructive message about self-reliance and responsibility.
On the movie front, Denzel is one of the topic actors of his generation, and he’s starred in movies spanning just about every genre in the business.
His most iconic performances usually had a social message attached to them, but the actor also took the opportunity to have a little fun, by choosing roles that had nothing at all to do with social messaging.
Malcolm X (1992)
Denzel was perhaps the only actor capable of accurately portraying the controversial former Nation of Islam icon Malcolm X, and it turned out to be one of his absolute best performances. Ironically, the fury and rage surrounding the film was more divisive than the story itself, thanks to divisive behavior on the part of its director, Spike Lee.
It’s also not a perfect film, and the fact that notorious race hustler and divider Al Sharpton made a cameo is offensive in and of itself, but there’s no denying the impact of the story about a very imperfect man who overcame his own prejudices, and sought racial unity, only to be attacked for it by both sides.
The Book Of Eli (2010)
The fact that Hollywood green lit a film about a guy wandering the post apocalyptic Earth whilst pushing the Bible as a moral authority is, quite frankly, shocking. Subject matter aside, The Book of Eli is one of Denzel’s most unique films, and definitely outside of his normal typecast.
The dystopian future is well thought out, with excellent cinematography, courtesy of the Hughes brothers. Naturally, Denzel manages to captivate audiences with his gruff, yet purposeful lead protagonist, who stays true to his mission in the face of cannibals and villains alike.
Training Day (2001)
Audiences were so used to seeing Denzel Washington in good guy roles, that it must have come as a shock when Training Day hit theaters. Washington played Alonzo Harris, an extremely crooked cop who underestimates his rookie partner Jake, whom he sets up on the first day.
His performance as the arrogant and overconfident Alonzo is top notch, particularly during the street scene in the final act. It was a rare treat to see Denzel play against his typically wholesome character, which must have been a welcome change of pace for the actor.
American Gangster (2007)
Denzel got all the experience needed to play a vicious criminal in Training Day, which aided him in the role of Frank Lucas, a notorious NYC drug lord with a bustling heroin trade. The film was directed by Ridley Scott, and also featured Denzel’s Virtuosity co-star Russell Crowe.
It’s a dark, but energetic and captivating film with some riveting performances, and intriguing plot twists involving the corruption of the NYPD and the DEA at the time. It was later nominated for a ton of awards, eventually winning three.
Man On Fire (2004)
As far as revenge flicks go, Man on Fire is one of the most underappreciated of the bunch. Denzel played John Creasy, a former CIA operative who takes a job as a bodyguard for the young daughter of an automaker in Mexico City.
When the young girl is presumed dead, Creasy goes ballistic, waging a war against the city’s criminals, and the corrupt local police. He soon learns that it was all part of an elaborate plan to collect on insurance money, but things got out of control. Like many of Tony Scott’s films, it didn’t rank high with critics, but Denzel manages to turn it into a very entertaining film.
Crimson Tide (1995)
Pitting Denzel Washington opposite veteran actor Gene Hackman was a stroke of genius, and Crimson Tide was the result. The story is a parallel of a similar incident that occurred during the Cuban Missile Crisis, where tensions were at an all-time high, and America almost participated in a nuclear exchange.
It’s a no-fluff film that focuses entirely on the battle of wills between two very competent and honorable officers with differing opinions. There are no villains in the film, only men who want what’s best for their country, and the lengths they go to in order to make that happen are frightening.
Courage Under Fire (1996)
In this well-received Gulf War-era film, Denzel played Nathaniel Serling, a Lieutenant Colonel wracked with guilt over the accidental death of a friend during a friendly fire incident. Later, he’s assigned the job of assessing the case of Emma Walden, a helicopter commander who died in combat.
Serling quickly realizes that there’s more to the story than just the on-paper facts, and he ends up going down a rabbit hole to uncover a conspiracy surrounding her death. Denzel’s performance was good enough to nab him a Best Actor nomination.
Remember The Titans (2000)
In this autobiographical sports film, Denzel played Herman Boone, the black head coach of a high school football team who went on to lead his team to a string of victories, while bridging the racial divide between the black and white players on the team.
The actor was no stranger to playing in films revolving around the issue of race relations, but here, he played a character who was completely color-blind. It’s an important film to watch in an age where that kind of attitude is frowned upon by the Leftist establishment, who continue to propagate and push racial division and segregation, even in schools.
Cry Freedom (1987)
In this underrated 1987 film directed by Richard Attenborough, Denzel played Steve Biko, a leading proponent of the Black Consciousness Movement, which sought to undo the apartheid regime of South Africa. The real Steve Biko advocated strongly for racial unity, non-violence, and a desire to see South Africa fall under the banner of a non-racial system, where every person had the same rights and freedoms.
Denzel’s performance in the film was excellent, and his rapport with fellow actor Kevin Kline helped solidify the message of the story quite effectively. It’s worth a watch, just to see how Biko’s positive views and the fight for racial unity have been twisted by Marxist terror groups such as Black Lives Matter, who now push an openly discriminatory and segregationist agenda, which is the polar opposite of what Biko wanted.
Boasting one of the coolest plot twists of any supernatural thriller to date, Fallen is a movie that often gets overlooked by fans of Denzel Washington. In the film, he plays Detective John Hobbs, a man tormented by the spirit of a deceased killer named Edgar Reese.
Hobbs quickly figures out that Reese was possessed by a malevolent demon named Azazel, who can transfer himself to the body of any living being he touches. It’s a smartly-written, captivating and blood-curdling film about demonic possession, with some police detective drama to round out the edges.