Australian sexy man aficionado Chris Hemsworth is probably best known for his role as Thor in the expansive Marvel universe, but what does one need to do to be considered for such a legendary and godly role, besides getting into Thor-like shape and having the right heritage? Acting chops. Believe it or not, Hemsworth has played in an array of roles from comedy to thriller all the way to drama and of course some more sci-fi. There are more films on Hemsworth’s filmography than most would expect, and not even all of them are included in this list. However, given that his most prevalent role is as Thor and that accounts for a whopping 7 out of 25 movie roles, I’ve decided to rank his top performances that don’t include the hammer swinging, emotion-bottling demigod. Despite these films ranging from sub-par to great in quality, the rankings will be based on Hemsworth’s performance alone.
Overall a pretty awesome war movie, 12 Strong is not exactly Hemsworth’s best role. Based on a true yet pretty unbelievable story, 12 special forces operatives are the first retaliation to the 9/11 terrorist attack. Obligated to join forces with the Northern Alliances of Afghanistan, they initiate an unlikely and outnumbered assault to destabilize the Taliban’s power center in Mazar-i-Sharif. Chris’s representation of Captain Mitch Nelson is noble and brave — as it should be — but it didn’t seem like a role where Hemsworth could truly shine, not to mention the inconsistency of his accent for the role. Keeping up the image, his macho manliness is evident as ever in this role, it just didn’t quite sell or convince. In the end, I don’t blame Chris as much as I do the lazily constructed backstory and writing surrounding the main plot, but he could have given the character more depth in the few emotional scenes provided.
Director: Nicolai Fuglsig
Main Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Michael Shannon, Michael Peña
Runtime: 130 minutes
IMDb Rating: 6.6
A fun and CGI-ridden adventure, Men in Black: International is a somewhat campy tale within the canon of the original, imaginative sci-fi films. The Men in Black have been operating for a long time all over the world, but now they find that there is a mole in the ranks bent on destroying the organization. Hemsworth is agent H: a womanizing, socializing, satirizing macho man of the Men in Black. So, basically Thor but replace god-like strength and a hammer with fancy toys and chrome laser guns. The script has some good moments of comedy and Hemsworth plays well with them, but doesn’t quite live up to the originals and their snappy young gun/grumpy old veteran dynamic. I know that the movie isn’t just about his character and that he’s really the supporting character to Agent M (Tessa Thompson), but this movie just makes me want to see Hemsworth in a vastly different role to see the true range of his performances.
Director: F. Gary Gray
Main Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Tessa Thompson, Kumail Nanjiani
Runtime: 114 minutes
IMDb Rating: 5.6
An attempted continuation of the classic ‘80s National Lampoon films, Vacation is an all-out adventure of idiocy and sexual jokes that don’t quite match the originals. Rusty Griswold (Ed Helms) remembers his days of traveling to Walley World with his family as a child. Determined to create memories with his family as his father did, they drive across the country and run into all sorts of mishaps. Hemsworth shows up in the film — getting maybe 10 minutes of screentime — as an exaggerated personification of his physical traits, which are all referenced or shown in his short cameo. Though he is not a ‘big member’ of the movie, Hemsworth has got to be the absolute highlight. Hair coiffed, abs out, evenly tanned, Hemsworth fully dives into the role as the hunky, southern a-hole with hilarious magnificence. The film, overall, is a lowbrow and crude comedy with little to take away but has some great moments if you want to sit down and turn your brain off.
Director(s): John Francis Daley, Jonathan Goldstein
Main Cast: Ed Helms, Christina Applegate, Skyler Gisondo
Runtime: 109 minutes
IMDb Rating: 6.1
Overshadowed by needless violence and explosions, Extraction turns the tables and tries to focus more on emotional depth in a less conventional warlike movie. When black-market mercenary Tyler Rake is hired to save an imprisoned warlord’s son, the stakes rise exponentially as more and more local gunrunners and traffickers learn of the situation. The rogue agent who has nothing to live for, Tyler Rake, is played well by Hemsworth, who was given a better script for this role. The emotional narrative in his character’s evolution is a much better opportunity for Chris to show his strengths, not just his physical strengths, which are more heavily focused on in this film as he tosses henchmen to the side like ragdolls. His success in fulfilling the vision of veteran stunt coordinator/first-time director Sam Hargrave was mostly what impressed me about Hemsworth’s performance, filming the ‘oner’ means that Hemsworth had to do most of the fighting/free-running takes all in one go, back to back.
Director: Sam Hargrave
Main Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Bryon Lerum, Ryder Lerum
Runtime: 116 minutes
IMDb Rating: 6.7
A gritty and cutting racing story, Rush is the best Ron Howard sports movie — and the only other — since Cinderella Man. In the ‘70s, James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl) begin their bitter rivalry, pushing each other to obsessive lengths in order to be the best. The performances in this film are fantastic, both Hemsworth and Brühl shine in their opposition and emotional performances, but Brühl a bit more so. For somebody who was hoping for a bit more subtlety, it was a bit disappointing to see Hemsworth show up in the very first scene shirtless and womanizing, despite the promising writer and director. Though this does play on Hemsworth’s strengths and later ends up working well for the character, I wish it wasn’t so simple as that. I was glad to see later that Hemsworth’s role included a dark period with alcoholism and sadness, leaving him with nothing else but racing, but even that was a bit lacking. Seeing him begin to stretch his arms in a new type of role is exciting, which increases anticipation for the recently announced Hulk Hogan biopic he has been cast in.
Director: Ron Howard
Main Cast: Daniel Brühl, Chris Hemsworth, Olivia Wilde
Runtime: 123 minutes
IMDb Rating: 8.1
Seemingly a run-of-the-mill slasher flick, The Cabin in the Woods — brought to you by Director/Writer Drew Goddard and veteran co-writer Joss Whedon — is a lovely surprise for thriller/dark comedy fans all around. A group of college friends decide to go on vacation out in the deep dark woods, but something foul is at play when they start to be attacked by supernatural forces. The cast of characters for this film was excellent and truly comedic, however, they strayed from their initial character tropes almost instantly. Hemsworth plays the hard-headed jock who is dating the popular cheerleader and he obviously succeeds with ease, as we’ve seen him with a similar demeanor before. Don’t let the letterman jacket fool you though, Curt (Hemsworth) is a well-read and educated sociology major and a spirited team leader. Curt’s narrative arc is badass and heroic throughout, but I won’t get into details to avoid spoiler territory. Hemsworth shows some real depth in his portrayal, especially when you see it from start to finish. This is an awesome spin on a classic thriller and one of the best movies on Hulu right now.
Director: Drew Goddard
Main Cast: Kristen Connolly, Chris Hemsworth, Anna Hutchison
Runtime: 95 minutes
IMDb Rating: 7.0
From Director/Writer Drew Goddard comes the twist-happy, storyline pileup, Tarantino-esque mystery film Bad Times at the El Royale which is bloody, witty, and also somehow a bit confused. Seven complete strangers check into the eerily tidy yet desolate El Royale hotel on the border of Nevada and California, all for their own reasons, which will be revealed in thrilling and bloody fashion. Hemsworth, though not one of those seven strangers, is the true highlight of the film for me in a role I had never expected him to shine in. Without getting too far into spoiler territory, Chris plays an unsettlingly charming leader of what can only be described as a cult, inspiring his followers to stay with him to any end. In this role, Hemsworth is of course very alluring as usual, but with a sort of Woodstock meets Manson family energy. Again, I don’t want to give too much away, but the scene where he dances — button-up fully open revealing his impeccable shape — sensually and terrifyingly to Deep Purple’s Hush is definitely the scene that stood out most in the entire film.
Director: Drew Goddard
Main Cast: Jeff Bridges, Cynthia Erivo, Dakota Johnson
Runtime: 141 minutes
IMDb Rating: 7.1
An unforgettable, exhilarating, and witty revival of the classic sci-fi series, Star Trek is an absolute blast from start to finish. Acting as a standalone origin story, we see the birth of the USS Enterprise and its crew, led by its fearless Captain James T. Kirk (Chris Pine). Right from the beginning of the film, you are sucked into the action and story as though by the strongest tractor beam from a Borg vessel. Most of the instant appeal comes from the opening performance from George Kirk (Chris Hemsworth) as the proud and honorable captain, doing what captains do best, which is all I’ll say without getting into spoiler territory. Though his screen time was remarkably short and the rest of the movie was excellent, his emotional performance shot right through me and connected instantly to the audience. This was the first time I had ever seen Hemsworth and maybe he had help from the classic Abrams lens flare, but I walked out of the theater and immediately looked him up, never once forgetting his effect on me. This says a lot about the potential of Hemsworth in any role and what he can do when he gives it his all.
Director: J.J. Abrams
Main Cast: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Simon Pegg
Runtime: 127 minutes
IMDb Rating: 7.9
Yet again a film that rehashes an already stellar film, Ghostbusters stars a hilarious all-female cast of characters, save Hemsworth who reprises the secretary role with gusto. Attempting to prove that ghosts are real and a threat to humans, a paranormal researcher and a physicist form a team to fight the inevitable evils that come to prey on New York City. Composed of such comedians as Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Leslie Jones, and the heavily underrated Kate McKinnon, Hemsworth is just the bow on the box that ties it all together. Though not a main character per se, Chris takes his direction — flip the script by being the sexy but dumb male secretary — and gives it an extra boost. His comedic timing and utter lack of common sense are genuinely hilarious and surprisingly original, making this my favorite of his performances overall. To find out later that the funniest scene in the movie — the secretary interview scene — was 100% improvised is shocking and outstanding to discover, making any viewer more excited to see what kind of performance Chris can bring out next.
Director: Paul Feig
Main Cast: Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon
Runtime: 117 minutes
IMDb Rating: 6.6
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