That Mark Wahlberg is one of the world’s finest actors is beyond doubt. But unlike many Hollywood stars, Wahlberg’s career as a professional actor did not take off in his teen years. He actually started off as a rapper in the early 90s, with the group Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch.
While he seemed determined to earn a name for himself in the rap industry, Wahlberg, who was known by the stage name Marky Mark, was more of an entertainer than a singer. His good looks and charming personality gained him fans and admirers from far and wide.
At some point before plunging into the film industry, Wahlberg worked as the premier underwear model for Calvin Klein. His popularity rose fast and furious, and by the time he made his foray into the acting scene, Wahlberg was already a powerful brand.
Mark Wahlberg made his screen debut in the 1994 movie Renaissance Man. His electrifying performance earned him the respect of notable film producers and directors at the time. Just two years later, Wahlberg landed his first film starring role in the movie Fear. Hollywood was now craving for the Mark Wahlberg experience.
Today, Wahlberg has starred and featured in score of Hollywood hits, and the following is a collection of the best Mark Wahlberg films across three decades.
1. Boogie Nights (1997)
Boogie Nights is set in 1977 in Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley, at a time when commercial sex was considered safe and profitable. Besides the commercialization of sex, Boogie Nights also attempts to highlight some of the major forces that drove the industry back then, including disco, drugs, and fashion.
In the movie, Mark Wahlberg plays Eddie Adams, a high school dropout who decides to venture into the lucrative porn industry. Eddie Adams, or Dirk Diggler as he is known by his porn alter ego, owes his fame to his good looks and supersized dick.
While working a busboy in a nightclub, Eddie Adams is discovered by a renowned porn producer, Jack Horner. He joins Horner’s social and professional family, where he begins to charm the world with his porn prowess.
2. Three Kings (1999)
Mark Wahlberg has collaborated with film writer and director, David O. Russell, to release at least three successful movies. Three Kings is the first project of that collaboration. The story takes place in Iraq, right at the end of The Gulf War.
Three U.S soldiers are determined to go home rich. They stumble upon a map detailing where gold bullions stolen from Kuwait by Saddam Hussein are. The soldiers argue that if the bullions were already stolen, stealing them a second time won’t be much of a big deal. As it turns out, their new mission isn’t exactly as easy as they envisaged.
3. Planet of the Apes (2001)
Planet of the Apes is a reimagining of the 1968’s original science fiction film starring Charlton Heston. A glaring distinction between the two movies is that unlike Heston, Wahlberg declined to be filmed in loincloth in any of the scenes with the apes.
He argued that doing so would rekindle the memories of his days working as an underwear model. Well, these claims could suggest that Wahlberg was not quite proud of his career as an underwear model, but that’s gossip for another day.
U.S Air Force Captain and early 21st-century astronaut Leo Davidson (Wahlberg) embarks on an unauthorized mission to space. Things go awfully wrong and his spaceship crash-lands in a world filled with intelligent apes. On this planet, the apes are the dominant species and humans the enslaved species.
4. The Italian Job (2003)
Losing a mentor is a distressing experience. And when your mentor happens to be a former thief, avenging their death should be a matter of priority. You never know if you’re also a marked man. Charlie (Mark Wahlberg) is a distraught professional safecracker.
Apparently, his safecracker mentor has been killed. It all starts when Charlie teams up with a team of high-class thieves to steal $35 million worth of gold bullion. The team comprises Charlie himself, Handsome Rob (Jason Statham), hearing-impaired quipster Left Ear (Mos Def), tech-geek Lyle (Seth Green), Steve Frezelli (Edward Norton), and John (Donald Sutherland) who will oversee the Venice heist.
The deal sails through but as the thieves are having the time of their lives in a secluded spot in the Alps, Steve Frezelli double-crosses them and in the process, kills John.
Few years pass by and the members of the gang have since split. However, Charlie manages to rally them together to strip Steve of all his misbegotten earnings and avenge John’s death. The calculating Steve manages to stay ahead of Charlie’s team for the better part of this action-filled movie.
5. The Departed (2006)
This film may have been inspired by the 2002 Hong Kong crime thriller, Internal Affairs. However, The Departed raised the bar way higher and not just for its rich ensemble of actors. The movie revolves around the crime-ridden streets of South Boston, thanks to a powerful and well-connected Irish mafia, Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson).
The police will need to think outside the box if they’re keen on reigning in on the powerful mafia. Staff Sgt. Sean Dignam (Mark Wahlberg) helps with recruiting Billy Costigan (Leonardo DiCaprio), who will go undercover on behalf of the Boston Police Department.
But Costigan’s mission won’t be a walk in the park. That’s mostly because the Boston PD itself is infiltrated with a street-smart criminal Collin Sullivan (Matt Damon), who reports their every plan to Costello.
6. The Fighter (2010)
The Fighter is another major project in which Wahlberg collaborated with David O. Russell. The film is a biopic of a professional boxer, Micky Ward, whose rise to the top was a long and arduous journey. Micky is determined to earn a name for himself in a career that has remained unrewarding for years. But at some point, he begins to think that he might never make it to the top if he follows the straight and narrow.
Besides aptly portraying the treacherous nature of the boxing industry, The Fighter also highlights how easily dreams can be achieved if you have the unwavering support from your family.
7. Ted (2012)
It’s almost impossible to imagine that Mark Wahlberg could even accept a role in a movie about a talking teddy bear, let alone put up a stellar performance in it. But Wahlberg is one of the only few actors who can take up any movie role and turn the whole script around into something funny and captivating.
John Bennett (Wahlberg) has owned a talking teddy bear right from his childhood. He is now a grown-up but despite the years, the bond between John and his inanimate friend has remained unbreakable. The two enjoy an easy camaraderie, and the conversations are both humorous and sobering.
8. Deepwater Horizon (2016)
Deepwater Horizon is a captivating retelling of the April 20th, 2010 BP oil spill that occurred on the Gulf of Mexico’s Deepwater Horizon. The industrial disaster claimed 11 lives and injured another 17. But the Deepwater Horizon movie doesn’t dwell on the grim side.
The film is all about how people who are in control of a rapidly-evolving and potentially-disastrous situation can turn the tide if they only put their best efforts into it. The film attempts to honor the brave men whose heroic actions saved lives. Mark Wahlberg plays Mike Williams, the selfless Chief Electronics Technician who does everything within his capacity to save his crew members in the wake of the disaster.
9. Patriots Day (2016)
Patriots Day is Mark Wahlberg’s third movie in his partnership with film director, Peter Berg. And just like 2013’s Lone Survivor and 2016’s Deepwater Horizon, Patriots Day is based on real events. The film attempts to relive the gruesome bombing at the finish line during the Boston Marathon in 2013.
Boston Police Sgt. Tommy Saunders (Wahlberg) is facing one of the most challenging assignments of his entire career. He must search for evidence and bring the perpetrators to justice. And while at it, he tries to comfort the bereaved families, while helping to reunite those who have been separated following the ordeal.
10. Instant Family (2018)
Instant Family portrays how far a couple can go in trying to hold together, especially when the center doesn’t seem to hold. It also brings into focus the intrigues that characterize the treacherous waters of the child adoption system.
Pete (Wahlberg) and Ellie Wagner (Rose Byrne) are happily married. However, they’re constantly taunted by their relatives who believe the couple will never have children. Tired of the jibes, the couple decides to adopt three young children.
It should now be an ideal family. But somewhere down the road, they’re confronted with the tough choice of letting the children go when their mother shows up and is keen on reuniting with her children.
Mark Wahlberg is one of the best actors of his generation. He has scores of entertaining, humorous, and thought-provoking films to his name. The ten movies we’ve reviewed are undeniably his most successful projects so far.