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Best & Worst: Harrison Ford

Worst: K-19: The Widowmaker (2002)

When it should be a taut, tense and claustrophobic thriller, this submarine-set snooze is simply tedious.

While the historical context of US-Soviet brinkmanship should be ripe with dramatic potential, it’s hopelessly squandered by the usually kinetic Kathryn Bigelow, who turns in a film mired in stodgy storytelling and hammy, grandstanding dialogue.

Ford is particularly shoddy as the gruff Captain Vostrikov, playing him as tough as a paving slab and every bit as interesting. Throw in a truly heinous Russian accent and it’s definitely a performance to scrub from the CV.

Best: Star Wars (1977)

Lucas and Ford’s lucrative working relationship hits paydirt with this phenomenally successful soap opera in space. Whilst Mark Hamill’s Luke was the nominal hero, it was Ford’s fast-talking, perma-swaggering space cowboy who really set pulses racing.

As Han Solo, Ford provides a welcome counterpoint to the clean-cut Skywalker and is undoubtedly the trump card of the original trilogy. Indeed, the prequels don’t have any one character who comes close to matching up. Apart from Jar-Jar of course…

Worst: Hollywood Homicide (2003)

Harrison is a jaded old copper with a string of divorces, a younger model girlfriend and an internal affairs investigation on the horizon. Josh Hartnett is the conflicted young rookie with a hatred of guns but a longstanding lust for revenge. The audience meanwhile, is bored senseless.

Ford struggles with the half-hearted comedy throughout, whilst his chemistry with Hartnett is non-existent. On top of that, Ron Shelton tries to cram far too much plot into a two hour runtime, the result being an unconvincing and incomprehensible mess.

Best: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

Oft hailed as the crowning example of a sequel that outstrips the original, Empire is unquestionably the finest entry into the Star Wars canon. Freed of the reams of backstory that slightly bogged down the first film, Empire is all action, from the frozen wastes of Hoth to the superficially tranquil Cloud City.

Ford has plenty of scenery-chewing moments to savour, but this one is more about the dynamic between Vader and Luke, which reaches fever pitch with the revelation of that twist…

Worst: Six Days Seven Nights (1998)

Harrison Ford and Ann Heche must go down as one of the worst romantic couplings ever crowbarred into a motion picture. At no point in this shoddy adventure romp do the pair ever display a romantic spark, which makes their eventual swooning all the more difficult to swallow.

Even less tolerable is the woeful script and the various misadventures Ford is forced to endure in the name of “comedy”. “I’ve had just about as much vacation as I can stand,” quips Heche at one point. Haven’t we all.

Best: Return Of The Jedi (1983)

Ok, so it doesn’t quite manage to live up to the first two, but Return Of The Jedi (much like Temple Of Doom ) is still an enjoyable romp on its own merits. On reflection, the Ewoks aren’t half as bad as everyone makes out and in Jabba The Hut, the film serves up a truly iconic villain.

On top of that there’s also the Sarlaac’s Pit (poor old Boba), Vader’s redemption and Leia’s gold bikini to be enjoyed. When you consider how the shambolic prequels turned out, this is still a Star Wars film to be cherished!

Worst: Regarding Henry (1991)

Harrison does his best to enliven this potboiler as the nasty bigshot lawyer who catches a stray bullet in his bonce while popping out for cigarettes. However, it all goes downhill from here as Bill Nunn’s saintly nurse teaches poor Harrison the error of his former ways during a spell in hospital.

The rest of the film is a sickly mess as Ford learns that money ain’t everything after all, and that a game of catch with your son is worth more than any convertible and blah blah blah. Preachy, sentimental tosh of the worst kind.

Best: The Fugitive (1993)

Arguably the most enjoyable of Harrison’s mid-’90s action flicks, The Fugitive is an enjoyably overwrought thrill ride boasting a pair of cracking performances from macho leading men Ford and Tommy Lee Jones. The cat and mouse dynamic might be a well-worn conceit, but the two grizzled warhorses ensure that this is a distinctly above-average genre piece.

Ford is great as the wronged man on the run, whilst Jones has got the lawman’s dogged determination down to a tee. “I didn’t kill my wife,” barks Ford in the opening exchanges. “I don’t care,” comes Jones’ unyielding response. Cracking stuff.

Worst: What Lies Beneath (2000)

Harrison subverts his heroic reputation for a rare villainous turn in this schlocky horror show from director Robert Zemeckis. Ford plays the husband of Michelle Pfeiffer’s spooked housewife, and it turns out he’s hiding a less-than-savoury past.

Sadly, the scares on offer are cynically cheap (no one in that window, no one in that window, no one in that window, oh no, there’s someone in the first window!), whilst you can almost hear the gears grinding during Harrison’s mid-act shift from slightly gruff husband to out-and-out shit!

Comparisons with Hitchcock are superficial at best. Yes, Michelle Pfeiffer is blonde, but in terms of quality, it’s a total no-contest.

Best: Apocalypse Now (1979)

Ford re-teams with American Graffiti producer Francis Ford Coppola for a small role in his nightmarish journey into man’s dark heart. Ford plays Colonel Lucas, one of the intelligence officers who presents Martin Sheen’s Captain Willard with his perilous assignment.

Harrison keeps his trademark charm firmly under wraps to play Lucas as a jittery and nervous man, his fidgety description of Colonel Kurtz playing on the audience’s expectations of what Willard will find at the end of his journey.