The movie star doubles as a ghost in most of his performances.
Chances are you’ve seen a movie featuring Jai Courtney. Whether or not you actually know who he is, well that’s another question entirely. Courtney has appeared in multiple blockbusters such as Divergent, Terminator Genisys, and Suicide Squad. Since 2012, Hollywood has been trying really hard to make Jai Courtney happen. The results have been less than inspired, so is it time for Jai Courtney to be put into movie jail?
Movie jail is reserved for those actors/actresses who continuously appear in pictures of poor quality or turn in frequently bad performances. It might even be due to behavior on a Hollywood set or studio politics in general. This can lead to actors/actresses being blacklisted, given less desirable roles like what happened to Blade Runner’s Sean Young and actor Mickey Rourke. Behavior and drug abuse don’t seem to be the issue here. Obviously, Courtney must be a delight to work with since why else would he be offered these roles. So then why is he so forgettable in the work he is given?
Courtney first made his first Hollywood appearance in Tom Cruise’s Jack Reacher, but really got his chance at stardom in A Good Day to Die Hard with Bruce Willis as John McClane’s son, Jack. Results aren’t good when it is universally accepted as weakest film in the Die Hard series. Never mind the one redeeming aspect most critics took away from the film was seeing Bruce Willis as the title character one more time.
When it came time to cast the villainous Eric in the Divergent series, Courtney was selected. They needed an actor who was young, extruded masculinity through his pores, and who could act like a board of wood. Honestly, the character wasn’t given much to do except act menacing. Courtney would appear in Divergent and Insurgent, before his character would leave the franchise, but can anyone actually remember what he brought to the role? He just sort of exists to add extra adversity for the protagonists, never really bringing anything other than his muscular build to the films.
Hollywood wasn’t about to give up on Courtney yet. He was given his most high profile role playing Kyle Reese in Terminator Genisys. While the history of actors playing the role wasn’t all that impressive (excluding the late Anton Yelchin), Kyle Reese has a major part to play in the Terminator franchise and Terminator Genisys gives Courtney plenty of screen time. Vanity Fair would scorch his performance in their review of the film, “…Courtney is a decidedly bland actor, prone to either drab flatness or macho barking. He’s essentially our lead here, and just isn’t compelling enough (when he’s clothed) to want to follow.” Even our own Rob Hunter was decidedly negative on Courtney, “…He’s simply not up to the task – a job made admittedly tougher by this script – and when a character refers to him as a “human-shaped thing designed to gain our trust” we can’t help but agree.” If people talk about that film, they will mention Schwarzenegger and that Dragon Queen from Game of Thrones (Emilia Clarke). Most will agree that Courtney was horribly miscast and couldn’t carry the emotional weight of the film he was tasked with. If he has a personality, the screenwriters did him no credit.
Most recently, Jai Courtney can be seen in Suicide Squad as Boomerang. Yes that is Jai Courtney in Suicide Squad and not Tom Hardy. Also Joel Kinnaman was the actor that replaced Tom Hardy in that film, not Jai Courtney. Surprised? Yeah, me too. Now try to remember Jai Courtney in Suicide Squad. I’ll give you some time. He was playing the actor that carried the pink unicorn around for an unexplained reason. No, he isn’t playing Deadshot – that is Will Smith. He isn’t playing Diablo – that is Jay Hernandez. Surprisingly he isn’t playing Killer Croc either, that was Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje. No he was playing Boomerang, the man you can’t remember and if you do, thought was Tom Hardy. Allison Davis from The Ringer says it best in a conversation with a friend after seeing the film, “They really wasted Tom Hardy, huh?“ Again the script does Courtney no favors, never providing any background for his character’s motives or any reason for Boomerang to exist, sort of like Suicide Squad itself.
Obviously, I don’t know Jai Courtney. He could be a wonderful guy and extremely easy to work with. Perhaps he needs to fire his agent? Appear in a critically acclaimed television show? Not accept roles that define him as nothing more than a muscle bro? If his career to this point has taught us one thing, it is that he is utterly forgettable on the big screen. Hollywood needs to stop trying to make him happen and perhaps we’ll finally get to see his range. Until then, maybe he shouldn’t be treated as the next big thing.