Before adapting Lois Lowry’s acclaimed young adult novel “The Giver,” director Phillip Noyce made his name helming some of the most gripping and satisfying thrillers of the 1990s with megastars like Denzel Washington, Angelina Jolie, Harrison Ford, Val Kilmer and Billy Zane. Here’s a rundown of five Noyce films that are worth watching before “The Giver,” which stars Jeff Bridges, Meryl Streep and Brenton Thwaites hits the big screen on Aug. 15.
The Bone Collector (1999)
In this underrated police procedural, Denzel Washington plays a brilliant tetraplegic forensic investigator who partners with a clever beat cop (Angelina Jolie) to hunt down a serial killer with a very bizarre modus operandi. At the time of its release, the film was regarded as a pale imitation of David Fincher’s landmark 1995 psychological thriller “Seven.” While “The Bone Collector” takes obvious inspiration from the earlier film, it’s an enjoyably twisty caper that features quality performances from a pre-superstardom Jolie and a still engaged Washington.
Patriot Games (1992)
The second cinematic Tom Clancy adaptation, “Patriot Games” follows CIA agent Jack Ryan (Harrison Ford) as he is targeted by a deranged IRA operative (Sean Bean) after interrupting one of the groups political assassinations. Taunt as a Stradivarius violin and full of some the most ingeniously conceived action set pieces of the 1990s, the film is not only one of the best genre films of the past 25 years, it’s also a highlight of Ford’s storied career.
The Saint (1997)
Gentlemen thief Simon Templar (Val Kilmer) finds himself in a pickle when the Russian mafia hires him to steal the formula for stable cold fusion from brilliant scientist Emma Russell (Elizabeth Shue) and he accidentally falls in love with the mark. While a bit frothier than most of Noyce’s films, “The Saint” still features a number of his perfectly executed set pieces and fun performance from Kilmer, who got to indulge in his eccentric side by bringing life to 12 of Simon’s cover identities.
Clear and Present Danger (1994)
The sequel to “Patriot Games” sees Jack Ryan (F0rd again) uncover a massive conspiracy after becoming Acting Director of the CIA. “Clear and Present Danger” is a rare sequel that’s actually better than the original. Because “Clear” had a slightly bigger budget than “Patriot Games,” Noyce was able to pull off so of the most impressive set pieces of his career, such as the slaughter of a drug kingpin and his family by a cavalier government operative (Henry Czerny). To understand the sublimity of Noyce’s handling of the franchise, one only has to watch this film back to back with any of the franchises later entries.
Dead Calm (1989)
Noyce’s breakthrough film is a psychological thriller about a grieving couple (Sam Neil, Nicole Kidman) who hope to mend their relationship with a relaxing boat ride and their encounter with a shipwreck survivor (Billy Zane) who isn’t what he claims. The incredibly tense and well-acted film has all of Noyce’s evocative staging and peerless ability to cultivate suspense. The success of “Dead Calm” led to Noyce directing the lurid 1993 potboiler “Silver,” which was a big enough commercial hit for Paramount to allow Noyce to helm “Patriot Games” and the rest was history.
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