Samuel L. Jackson is considered one of the most recognizable actors of his generation, having appeared in numerous films throughout his career. But not all of his films are created equal.
From the extraordinary character of Nick Fury in the MCU to the questionable purple lightsaber-toting Mace Windu in Star Wars, here are some of Jackson’s best and worst films.
Best: Pulp Fiction
Samuel L. Jackson’s rage-fueled audition for the role of Jules Winnfield in the black comedy crime film Pulp Fiction. Written for Lawrence Fishbourne, Jackson’s name wasn’t even on director Quentin Tarantino’s mind.
Upon its release, the film is arguably known as one of Jackson’s greatest works, one that earned him an Academy Award nomination or Best Supporting Actor.
Worst: Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones
The prequel films are pretty much cult classics and are known for being extremely campy. Ironically, Samuel L. Jackson asked George Lucas for a purple lightsaber so he’d stand out in the crowd of blue and green swords during the final battle in Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones.
Considering the critical response to the film, he probably wishes he stuck to the classic colors.
Best: Django Unchained
While Django Unchained was met with stellar reviews upon its release in 2012, Samuel L. Jackson’s role as Stephen Warren was something else altogether. His character is one of the film’s antagonists, a sadist who is molded by his master.
He plays the role beautifully, portraying Warren as intelligent yet extremely cunning towards people who seek to hurt his master.
Best: Jurassic Park
Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park was a movie milestone, one that used animatronic dinosaurs as some of the main characters. One reviewer from the New York Times wrote, “a true movie milestone, presenting awe- and fear-inspiring sights never before seen on the screen.”
In the film, Samuel L. Jackson plays the role of Ray Arnold, the park’s chief engineer who, sadly, gets eaten by one of the loose dinos.
Best: The Avengers
The 2012 film The Avengers was the first of some of the greatest superhero collaboration movies cinema. In the film, Samuel L. Jackson plays the role of Director Nick Fury, the S.H.I.E.L.D agent who brings together Earth’s mightiest heroes to defeat Loki and the invading Chitauri.
The film grossed $1.5 billion worldwide, becoming the highest-grossing film of the year and setting numerous box office records.
Best: A Time To Kill
Samuel L. Jackson plays a distraught father, fighting for his freedom in the courtroom after avenging his daughter in A Time to Kill. Playing the role of Carl Lee Hailey, Jackson’s performance is haunting.
The film is considered the best John Grisham adaptation and was both a critical and commercial success.
Best: The Hateful Eight
Quentin Tarantino’s film The Hateful Eight was met with great reviews upon its 2015 release, namely for the score and performances of the incredible case. In the movie, Samuel L. Jackson plays former Union soldier turned bounty hunter Marquis Warren.
And he’s a very ruthless bounty hunter at that, wanting nothing more than to take his target, Daisy, out.
Best: Patriot Games
While many people might forget Samuel L. Jackson’s minor role as Lt. Commander Robby Jackson in The Patriot Games, it doesn’t stray from the fact that it is still an amazing film.
Starring Harrison Ford, The Hunt For Red October sequel was called “absorbing” by film critic Roger Ebert. It was also a financial success, grossing $178 million at the box office on a $45 million budget.
Best: Spider-Man: Far From Home
Samuel L. Jackson reprised his role as Nick Fury in the Tom Holland-led movie Spider-Man: Far From Home. Tryin to recruit Spider-Man after the events of Endgame, Fury finds the young Peter Parker reluctant.
Then, everything comes to a halt when they realize their ally, Mysterio, is actually their enemy. The sequel film was met with amazing reviews and was a massive success at the worldwide box office.
Worst: The Legend Of Tarzan
Sadly, even Samuel L. Jackson’s great performance as Tarzan ally George Washington Williams couldn’t save The Legend of Tarzan from the critics. With such a classic character, critics didn’t appreciate the sluggish pace or the film’s generic plot.
All in all, the movie didn’t make enough at the box office to warrant a sequel.
Best: Jackie Brown
The 1997 film Jackie Brown follows the title character as she goes from flight attendant to international money smuggler for Ordell Robbie, soon finding herself on the wrong side of the law.
Samuel L. Jackson plays the latter role in the film and has stated that the character is one of the all-time favorites.
Samuel L. Jackson plays the title character in the M. Night Shyamalan-directed film Glass. While the film was technically a financial success, the story was very underwhelming and disappointing.
David Ehrlich of IndieWire said, “the trouble with Glass is that its mildly intriguing meta-textual narrative is so much richer and more compelling than the asinine story that Shyamalan tells on its surface.”
Best: Coach Carter
When it comes to the 2005 film Coach Carter, critics thought Samuel L. Jackson gave an extremely strong performance as the title character, Coach Ken Carter.
Based on the true story of an inner-city high school basketball coach, the film follows Carter as he teaches his players there is more to life than the sport.
Playing the evil Roland Cox in the 2008 film Jumper, Samuel L. Jackson’s stellar performance didn’t keep the film from getting negative reviews and a 15% on Rotten Tomatoes.
The story about a globe-trotting bank robber who can transport anywhere in the blink of an eye, reviewers said, “An erratic action pic with little coherence and lackluster special effects.”
Worst: National Lampoon’s Loaded Weapon 1
While National Lampoon’s Loaded Weapon 1 was made as an unserious parody on Lethal Weapon, it didn’t really hit home. It was nothing more than a silly attempt at being funny, with Samuel L. Jackson and Emilio Estevez at the forefront.
According to Roger Ebert, the real reason the film didn’t work was that “the Lethal Weapon movies already contained sly spoofs of the police film genre.”
Best: Kong: Skull Island
Surprisingly, Kong: Skull Island didn’t become a Blockbuster flop. While it was still met with mixed reviews, many of them were positive and celebrated the special effects used throughout the movie.
One critic wrote, “It was a movie that was not at all on my radar as something I was dying to see, and yet I had way too much fun watching it.” Samuel L. Jackson plays United States Army Lieutenant Colonel and Sky Devils helicopter squadron leader Preston Packard.
Best: One Eight Seven
The 1997 film One Eight Seven was the first top-billed starring role for Samuel L. Jackson. In the film, he plays the role of Trevor Garfield, a high school science teacher who is attacked by one of his students.
His performance in the film was called strong and sympathetic by Roger Ebert.
Worst: Snakes On A Plane
Samuel L. Jackson stars as FBI Agent Neville Flynn in the film Snakes on a Plane. A strange concept with hundreds of snakes being released on a plane in an attempt to kill a trial witness, the film was met with mixed reviews and poor box office numbers.
Rolling Stones’ Peter Travers said, “after all the Internet hype…the flick itself is a murky stew of shock effects repeated so often that the suspense quickly droops along with your eyelids.”.
Worst: Amos & Andrew
Starring alongside Nicolas Cage, Samuel L. Jackson plays the role of playwright Andrew Sterling in Amos & Andrew. A box office failure, the film received negative reviews all around.
Many critics said the film wasn’t horrible, per se, but more misguided in its attempt to be funny while discussing hard topics.
Best: Black Snake Moan
In one of his more quirky films, Samuel L. Jackson stars alongside Christina Ricci as Lazarus Redd, a retired Mississippi blues singer in Black Snake Moan.
One reviewer wrote of the movie, saying, “Uninhibited performances, skillful direction, and a killer blues soundtrack elevate Black Snake Moan beyond its outlandish premise.”