The Mosquito Coast is a Timeless Story of Fathers and Sons

The Mosquito Coast is a Timeless Story of Fathers and Sons

12 min read

Though I'm a lifelong fan of Harrison Ford, I'm ashamed to admit I haven't seen his entire filmography. The reasons are many and mundane, but can be summed up thusly: If Harrison doesn't shoot or punch someone, there's a 50% chance I didn't see the movie.1

I realize this maybe makes me seem like a troglodyte who is easily distracted by lights and sounds. That's not the case. I mean, I do grunt a lot and get unconscionably excited about fire. But I also consider The Shawshank Redemption one of the greatest movies ever made. It's even better than Star Wars, a designation I don't hand out lightly.2

I know good when I see it. And here's the thing—Harrison is a great actor. He doesn't have the hardware to put him alongside someone like De Niro or Denzel—and, to be fair, he isn't in the same league—but he's reliably good.3 Harrison famously worked as a carpenter early in his career, and you can easily suggest a workmanlike quality to his acting. I think that might undersell his talent, but it seems fair.

My grand Harrison Ford theory is that he flourishes due to sheer screen charisma, rugged good looks, and a strong antenna for what best serves a story and the character he's playing. This is the guy who singlehandedly created two of the most iconic moments in film history: Shooting the sword-wielding Arab in Raiders of the Lost Ark, and "I know," in The Empire Strikes Back. Both moments were born of desperation—Harrison was suffering from dysentery in the former and a George Lucas screenplay in the latter 5—and are examples of Harrison's pragmatism and an innate sense of what exemplifies the character.

While Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone were making movies in which the only thing bigger than the explosions were the biceps, Harrison's movies were a cut above. He humanized the drama and made us care about the action.

Apart from some CGI-assisted hijinks, Harrison's days of punching people are long over. Probably—he did recently star in the Yellowstone spin-off 1923, of which a second season is in development. The fact remains that he really is getting too old for this, especially when a better alternative is available—such as playing hilariously grumpy old men who are worried about people "raw dogging" him.

The other option is to dip into the extensive list of Harrison Ford films in which there are no car chases, gunfights, or stoic one-liners.