Welcome to my first edition of Prolific Ranker. I am Ayden, and I am a prolific ranker. I rank so much I get ranker’s cramp. But enough subtle masturbation humour; after the recent release of David Ayer’s latest film The Tax Collector, I decided his filmography would be a great place to start ranking. For the record, Carl and I will still rank things on the podcasts … this is more for things that we wouldn’t likely rank on there.
This is only the films that Ayer directed, not wrote, so there will be no Training Day, The Fast and the Furious etc. appearing today. Enough, bullshit. Let’s rank!
Sabotage was Arnie’s third film after returning to acting and it was a bit of a change of pace for him. Arnie plays the leader of a DEA Task Force but instead of being a bad ass hero, Arnie is a bad ass asshole. They bend the rules to get shit done. An ultra violent (R-rated) Arnie as a morally grey character (at best) could’ve been quite cool to see something different. But sloppy writing and really choppy directing hurt it’s chances. Not only that, but the studio forced Ayer to change the ending making the rest of the film make no fucking sense once the big reveal happens. This had potential, but it’s a drag.
7. Suicide Squad
Despite being quite knowledgeable in the medium of comic books (following his Twitter will show you he is more than a novice), Suicide Squad turned out to be a mess, but the onus can only somewhat fall on Ayer. The studio only gave him six weeks to write the script for this film; a film in which he had to introduce a bunch of major characters to the casual moviegoing audience in what would be their film debuts … no pressure then. Then after he did accomplish that, he shot everything and early screenings were very favourable. So naturally the studio hire a bunch of guys with no experience in film editing to edit this for seemingly no reason at all. Makes sense. Despite all that, this does have some fun moments, but it isn’t good.
6. The Tax Collector
Of all the films that appear on this list, this one is the biggest disappointment for sure. After years of studio interference, this was to be Ayer’s baby; the film that is all him … and it was a dud. There were a couple of good parts in it, namely Shia LaBeouf’s performance and some cool, gory practical effects, but the rest of this is just off. I don’t normally advocate for films to be longer but this needed another 30-40 minutes as it just feels incomplete. If I ever rewatch this, I think it could fall to last place honestly.
5. Street Kings
You can tell Ayer has a ‘type’ of film he likes to make; dirty or morally grey cops, usually in LA, and Street Kings is no different. We get good performances from a solid cast led by Keanu Reeves and supported by Chris Evans, Forrest Whitaker and Hugh Laurie. This features some solid action sequences but ultimately loses points for being too similar to Ayer’s other stuff.
I can fully admit that I am higher on this than a lot of people, nay, the vast majority of people. This is true and for people who don’t like this, their reasons are valid. The dialogue sounds like it was written by an “edgy” 13-year-old, with the word ‘fuck’ being used like a Kardashian uses the word ‘like’. With it being written by man-child and all-around piece of shit Max Landis, I am not surprised though. However, what we do get is a very cool urban fantasy tale mixed with a cop thriller. The performance of Will Smith is fine but Joel Edgerton steals the show as orc cop Nick. I get why people hate this one, but I am not one of them.
3. Harsh Times
Harsh Times was Ayer’s directorial debut and stars a pre-A-List Christian Bale (this came out the same year as Batman Begins) as a former Army soldier who wants to join the LAPD (surprise surprise) but can’t seem to get in due to issues with his anger and mental health, potentially relating to PTSD. While it yet again features a familiar background to Ayer’s other films, it takes a different spin on it and I found this to be a gritty look at the effects of PTSD and just mental health of returning soldiers in general. An underrated film here.
2. End Of Watch
End of Watch is yet another cop film from Ayer but it’s the cream of the crop as well. It features the best story — two cops (played by Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena) are marked for death after confiscating money and guns from the cartel — best acting and best writing. The directing is very much Ayer’s style, frantic camerawork, which is hit or miss for most people but here, it works. It displays the sense of urgency these two cops feel while avoiding the cartel. If you haven’t seen this one, definitely check it out.
I fucking love Fury. Not only is Ayer going out of his wheelhouse here (no LAPD in sight), but we get the best career performances of Shia LaBeouf and Jon Bernthal, and Brad Pitt’s second best performance (after Once Upon A Time In Hollywood). It’s easily Ayer’s best directorial work, being perfectly paced and, compared to his other films, featuring somewhat restrained camerawork. Yes, there is some frantic sequences but only when needed. This might be THE most underrated WWII film.
There we have it. How’d I do? Gimme a follow on Twitter (@onpointayden) and let me know if you agree or disagree. And if you haven’t seen Fury yet, sort your shit out and go see it.