The Good: Die Hard with a Vengeance (1995)
Die Hard was already a pretty kickass franchise before Jackson was cast as Bruce Willis’ reluctant partner in the series’ third instalment.
No one said John McClane needed to be thrown into a buddy cop movie, but Zeus Carver is a perfect foil, acting as the no-nonsense brains of the duo who is quick to call out everyone on their bullshit (but in all fairness, you’d probably be pissed off too if you had to deal with Jeremy Irons’ mind games all day). Carver is able to hold his own both physically and verbally, giving us more of Jackson’s sweet flair for speeches, and creating one of cinema’s greatest bromances.
The Bad: Jackie Brown (1997)
Although most would consider Pulp Fiction to be the prime example of Jackson’s status as THE badass motherfucker, it’s arguable that the underrated Jackie Brown shows us far more of his acting range whilst still retaining his philosophical sharp-shooter aesthetic.
His first time playing a true antagonist, Ordell Robbie is able to switch between emotions faster than he kills his colleagues; warm and inviting one minute, his gun at your head the next. It’s this that makes him a truly terrifying character, standing out alongside Pam Grier as the film’s strongest aspects. No wonder he rates it as his favourite Tarantino collaboration.
The Ugly: The Star Wars Prequels (1999-2005)
How do you take an actor renown for their epic delivery and slick dialogue, and make them about as uninteresting as explaining the science of midichlorians? Simply have George Lucas write the script.
Though of course not the only actor in the franchise to suffer from bad direction, Jackson’s take as Mace Windu should be seen as a criminal offence, taking what was a genius casting choice for the series and reducing it to monotone speeches about space politics. And what’s the point in that purple lightsaber if he’s just hopping around on a green screen? Anakin definitely did him a favour by killing him off.