Wahlberg has a wide range in his filmography from prestige projects to studio action films. Here are 10 of his best movies that show off his talent. His collaboration with Peter Berg is at its strongest in this gripping true story of a Navy SEAL team’s mission to kill an Afghan warlord.
1. Lone Survivor
A movie that stands well above Wahlberg’s more generic tough-guy roles, this harrowing war flick is based on the real-life story of Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell. The film doesn’t shy away from the horrors of war, and its powerful performances make it a memorable mark on the actor’s career.
A remake of the Chinese-made Infernal Affairs, this 2006 drama features a powerhouse cast that includes Leonardo DiCaprio and Matt Damon. But it’s Wahlberg who shines the brightest, playing Sean Dignam, a police officer working undercover to catch an infamous crime syndicate. The film’s taut direction and exceptional performances elevate it above the many other crime thrillers from this period. The film is a reminder of the greatness that can be achieved when talented actors are given the right material. It remains one of the best movies of all time.
2. The Gambler
This remake of James Caan’s 1974 film finds Wahlberg as English professor Jim Bennett, a high stakes gambler who gets in over his head. The pelispedia movie has a lot in common with the original, including its themes of desperation, but the 2014 version also benefits from an excellent cast, which includes Charlize Theron and Seth Green.
The heist genre is well represented in this film, which also stars Wahlberg and fellow actor Jason Statham as partners in crime. It’s a well-crafted film that offers plenty of thrills and spills, but it also boasts some heartfelt moments between Wahlberg and his co-stars. The chemistry between the two leads is palpable. The film is a worthy entry in this genre and a fun way to see Marky Mark in action again.
3. Deepwater Horizon
In the early ’90s, when Mark Wahlberg was still known as “Marky Mark,” few would have expected the formerly hip-hop artist to become one of our biggest movie stars. Yet he has, amassing a filmography that includes everything from a raunchy satire to a few of the most heart-pounding action blockbusters around.
It seems that whatever the genre, Wahlberg is particularly drawn to stories based on real people and events. He’s starred in a number of critically acclaimed films that have roots in history, and he’s proven adept at tackling both blockbuster action (Shooter, the Transformers franchise) and crowd pleasing comedy (Ted).
4. Instant Family
The movie that launched Mark Wahlberg into mainstream stardom, this comedy-drama centers on Pete and Ellie Wagner (Mark Wahlberg and Rose Byrne) who decide to foster a child named Lizzy. Written and directed by Sean Anders, the film draws on his own experience fostering children to present a true-to-life look at the ups and downs of parenting through adoption.
Wahlberg has a strong respect for the military, which shows in this harrowing war movie about real-life Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell and his traumatic experiences in Afghanistan. He gives a solid performance as First Class Marcus and he is supported by an impressive cast that includes Oscar-winners James Caan and Emile Hirsch.
5. American Sniper
One of the best films of 2014, American Sniper is a thrilling and gripping war drama that captures the brutal reality of service in Iraq. The film is based on the real-life experiences of Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell, who led an elite team into battle against terrorists and corrupt Iraqi officials. Wahlberg has a deep respect for the military and shows it in his portrayal of the real-life hero. He embodies the tough-guy persona that is often associated with military genre movies, but is also able to convey Luttrell’s emotional struggles and bonding with his fellow soldiers.
6. The Rookie
Although he once made headlines for racial comments, claims that he could have prevented the September 11 attacks, and terrible music, Mark Wahlberg has developed into a decent actor. Though he’s often been cast in predictable action and comedy roles, he’s also teamed up with some major auteurs like Martin Scorsese and Peter Berg.
The Rookie is one of those rare movies that combines heart-pounding action with character development. It stars Wahlberg as Tommy Corn, a firefighter who gets recruited by an elite team to help break down corruption in the fire department. The actor delivers a finely-tuned performance that blends steely eyed cynicism with enthusiastic desk punching.