Mark Wahlberg Movies: His Best And Worst Work So Far

By Rick Gonzales | Published

mark wahlberg

When it comes to making movies, Mark Wahlberg has to be one of the most confounding enigmas of a movie star. In one moment, he is going all out in one of the best performances and movies of his career, and then in the next, he delivers a forgotten performance in a forgettable film.

It is truly a head-scratcher how the man can pick such wonderful material, then back it up with a 180 of a dreadful project.

Today we are going to take a look at both aspects of Mark Wahlberg’s movies. The good and the bad. You are going to see that his good is actually really good, and his bad has offered some of the most underwhelming films to come out in the past 25 years.

Here are the good and the bad of Mark Wahlberg’s film career.

Mark Wahlberg’s Best Movies

6. Deepwater Horizon (2016)

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It isn’t often that Mark Wahlberg delivers an emotional performance, but with Deepwater Horizon, we get the best of his tugging of the heartstrings.

Deepwater Horizon tells the true story of the disaster that befell oil rig workers in the 2010 explosion and oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, which sadly ended with the death of 11 workers and injuries to 17 others.

Wahlberg plays Mike Williams, the Chief Electronics Technician who debates with BP the safety of the drilling that was just completed. His fears come to fruition when the drilling rig explodes after the powers that be concluded the rig was safe.

5. Instant Family (2018)

Mark Wahlberg movies

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Instant Family is another biographical Mark Wahlberg movie that follows the story of Pete (Wahlberg) and Ellie Wagner (Rose Byrne), a married couple who decide to adopt a child. When they finally find the kid that they are comfortable with, they then find out that the teen has two siblings.

Now, instead of taking on one child, they now have their instant family of five. It is a steep learning curve for Pete and Ellie, especially when the kids’ biological mother is released from prison. Sean Anders co-wrote the script with John Morris and based it on his own experiences with adopting.

4. Lone Survivor (2013)

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If you have not yet seen this excellent film, a word of warning: it is a tough watch. This Mark Wahlberg movie has the actor starring in another true-life story, this time as United States Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell.

The film is set during the war in Afghanistan and tells of the counter-insurgent mission, Operation Red Wings, where a team of four Navy SEALS was sent in to track down and take out Taliban leader Ahmad Shah.

The mission does not go off as planned as the four SEALS find themselves in a fatal fight as they become overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of Taliban soldiers. It is heart-wrenching to see what these soldiers had to endure.

3. The Fighter (2010)

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The Fighter is an excellent Mark Wahlberg film that tells the true story of American welterweight boxer, Micky Ward. Wahlberg portrays the fighter and shines as the boxer.

It tells the story of Ward, whose manager was his mother and trainer his older half-brother, as he turns into a journeyman “stepping stone” for other boxers on the rise.

While boxing is the highlight, the glue that holds the film together is Micky’s relationship with his brother Dicky, played here by the excellent Christian Bale. Dicky was a former boxer himself, making a bit of a name by once going the distance with Sugar Ray Leonard, and eventually becoming addicted to crack cocaine.

Their relationship becomes the main focus of the movie.

2. Boogie Nights (1997)

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Writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson decided to shine a big spotlight on the Golden Age of Porn and brought in Mark Wahlberg to play his up-and-coming porn star, Dirk Diggler.

Eddie Adams was a high-school dropout working as a dishwasher when he meets Jack Horner (Burt Reynolds), a porn filmmaker. Jack wants Eddie to join him in the porn industry, telling him he can make Eddie a star. Eddie’s first “screen test” has him having sex with porn starlet, Roller Girl (Heather Graham) while Jack watches on.

Jack likes what he sees and has Eddie change his name to Dirk Diggler. The excesses of the porn industry catch up with Diggler as he struggles to maintain his huge fame. This movie was a massive moment in Mark Wahlberg’s movie career and put him on the map as a true talent.

1. The Departed (2006)

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It is very rare when director Martin Scorsese disappoints and with The Departed, he simply knocks it out of the park. Hailed as one of the best films of the 21st Century, The Departed is not necessarily a Mark Wahlberg movie, though when he is on screen he delivers.

The film stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Vera Farmiga, and Alec Baldwin, all of whose performances were, like Wahlberg’s, rock solid.

Wahlberg steals scenes as Sean Dignam, a foul-mouthed cop who is working with an undercover agent trying to take mob boss Frank Costello (Nicholson).

The cops have the undercover agent imbedded in Costello’s organization but the problem here is that Costello also has one of his own undercover as a spy within the police department. This is one fantastic film.

Mark Wahlberg’s Worst Movies

Daddy’s Home 2 (2017)

Mark Wahlberg movies

When the first Daddy’s Home film was released in 2015, it marked the second film Mark Wahlberg and Will Ferrell starred together. Although Wahlberg isn’t necessarily considered a comedic actor, he has shown he can carry a comedic tune when set in the role.

Unfortunately, the third time was not the charm for this Wahlberg movie, even given the fact that it had Ferrell again plus the additions of Mel Gibson, John Lithgow, and John Cena. It was more groan-inducing than anything else.

The Corruptor (1999)

Mark Wahlberg movies

The Corruptor came fairly early in Mark Wahlberg’s movie career and attempted to pair him up with Hong Kong action star, Chow Yun-Fat. The goal was to bring Yun-Fat’s Hong Kong popularity to the mainstream American film audience, but the results fell flat.

The movie ended up being an uninspired cop thriller about one corrupt cop (Yun-Fat) who is teamed with another (Wahlberg) who’s secretly tasked to monitor the corrupt cop. In the middle of this is the turf war between two Asian gangs. Although this film fell flat, it did not stop Wahlberg from cranking out more action-adventure cop thrillers.

Max Payne (2008)

Mark Wahlberg movies

Case in point to another cop thriller Mark Wahlberg movie. Max Payne is based on the popular video game series of the same name, but it sadly doesn’t come close to living up to the name.

The film is a revenge piece that follows NYPD detective Max Payne in his journey through the New York criminal underworld while trying to also track down the killers of his wife and infant daughter. Although the action tends to hold up, the film’s illogical plot is its eventual downfall.

Wahlberg’s charisma is not enough to hold things together as he received a Golden Raspberry Award nomination for the Worst Actor performance. Mila Kunis, Beau Bridges, Ludacris, and Chris O’Donnell could not help save this film.

The Happening (2008)

Mark Wahlberg movies

If you think Mark Wahlberg’s movies can be head-scratchers, then you may not be aware of director/writer M. Night Shyamalan’s resume. He might take the cake when it comes to a vastly uneven career. Sadly, the two teamed up for The Happening and the results were fairly predictable.

The story revolves around a natural disaster whose results are causing mass suicides. It is a terrifying behavior that is taking over the northeastern part of the United States. Wahlberg’s Elliot Moore and his wife Alma (Zooey Deschanel) are trying to escape from the madness. The cause, the effect, the results, and the answer is a little far-fetched, even for a Shyamalan film.

Transformers: The Last Knight (2017)

Mark Wahlberg movies

It only continued to go downhill for Michael Bay and his Transformers franchise. Transformers: The Last Knight, the fifth film in the series, ended up being his death knoll.

Mark Wahlberg reprised his role as Cade Yeager from Transformers: Age of Extinction in a story that finds Yeager and the rest of the Transformers fighting off one of Earth’s deadliest threats.

Not even the new additions of Josh Duhamel, Stanley Tucci, Sir Anthony Hopkins, and the return of John Turturro could help this mess of a film. Thankfully, Bay handed off the reins to director Travis Knight for the excellent Hailee Steinfeld-led Bumblebee film that followed in 2018.