It has been over a decade since the release of the last Harry Potter movie, the famous bespectacled wizard played by British actor Daniel Radcliffe.
As in the natural order of things, cinema is no exception, and the lucky/unlucky orphan has struggled relentlessly between allies and adversaries in the enchanting Hogwarts school, finally reaching the inevitable climax of his adventures.
In a very short time, little Harry won the affection of audiences of all ages and cultures worldwide, establishing himself as one of the most enduring and profitable pillars of cinema, making the eight episodes of the saga one of the most triumphant cinematic series in theater history.
However, after the remarkable recognition and success, what was the subsequent fate of the still relatively young Radcliffe? Did he stop acting?
Absolutely not. Indeed, after leaving a job that had become burdensome after a decade, the actor returned to pursue other opportunities.
It is undoubtedly challenging to stay afloat when you become so quickly famous at that age, risking with each misstep the collapse of not only your career but also your family and personal life.
Recall the meteoric rise of Home Alone‘s funny boy Macaulay Culkin, whose fall into oblivion was even more resounding due to such a complicated life leading him to retire from the stage at not even 15 years old.
Fortunately, Daniel Radcliffe seems to be far from such a fate, although none of his post-Harry Potter movies have been as successful.
Does this mean that these movies really suck, or simply that they were advertised poorly and distributed even worse?
Let us look at some of them together so that you can judge for yourself whether they are worthy of your interest.
Table of contents
What if (2013)
Let’s start with a movie where Daniel Radcliffe shows us an unusually romantic side, combined with a good talent for comedy and playing characters always a bit wacky and out of the box.
Indeed, in this case, the actor plays the hapless Wallace, a young heartbroken freshly by a girlfriend for whom he had dropped out of medical school.
Everyone tries to lift his spirits and help him forget the breakup, but nothing seems to cheer him up until, at a party, he meets Chantry, his best friend Allan‘s cousin.
They are so similar to be obviously made for each other, but Chantry is already engaged to a young lawyer.
Wallace, however, begins to spend a lot of time with her, becoming the trusty daily buddy to whom she can tell doubts and fears that she dares not mean anyone else.
While Allan and his wife Nicole try to push him to stop the charade and openly declare his feelings, her boyfriend moves abroad for five years, leaving Chantry completely alone.
But of course, fate and love are not done with them yet.
Although it is a story we have seen before, director Michael Dowse makes the most of the cast’s excellent performances that make a difference.
Daniel Radcliffe is the eternal kid always ready to embarrass himself, along with the perfect Zoe Kazan, with whom he exchanges rapid-fire banter with excellent rhythms, apart from perhaps the somewhat whiny ending.
Absolutely flawless, on the other hand, is the splendid and scathing Adam Driver as friend and meddlesome unsolicited relationship counselor, paired with the gorgeous girlfriend and later wife Mackenzie Davis.
In short, it is an excellent example of light entertainment, which, even in its most banal moments, has something to add to the poetics of modern romance.
Let’s continue Daniel Radcliffe’s rediscovery with a biographical movie about the epic journey of Yossi Ghinsberg, a young Israeli eager to experience the world who, amidst his parents’ rebukes, drops out of school and starts traveling to discover the most exotic and remote locations.
Upon arriving in Bolivia, he makes the acquaintance of two wandering colleagues, and all three of them, one evening in front of a campfire, meet a mysterious and charming stranger who proposes an off-the-map journey to find a mysterious tribe long believed to have disappeared.
However, after getting lost, they realize their guide is actually a charlatan and separate into two groups, as one of them has a foot infection and cannot continue, while the other two will attempt to cross the wildest part of the Amazon.
The journey ends as quickly as abruptly when their miserable raft crashes on the rocks, leaving young Yossi alone in the jungle, where he must face a test of endurance against nature, the animals, and his growing madness and loneliness.
Daniel Radcliffe finally abandons his boyhood mood and becomes a more mature actor, albeit still in the role of a naive young man searching for himself.
A struggle against his father’s impositions to abandon the security of a future between family and career, he ends up having to struggle and become more animal than man to survive.
Directed by Greg McLean, “Jungle” is a gritty biopic that passionately recounts the struggles of an ordinary boy who plummets into extraordinary circumstances in the magnificent settings of the Amazon that reminds us of nature’s indifference to us and that there are still many wild and unspoiled corners of the world where we are still just small and weak monkeys like our Stone Age ancestors.
Beast of Burden (2018)
After the three-week survival agony in the jungle, we now switch to a movie unfolding only in the space of a few hours in the cabin of an airplane, where Daniel Radcliffe plays Sean Haggerty, a former Peace Corps pilot, dishonorably discharged and now a drug runner in the service of Mexican cartels.
A journey that immediately proves more complicated than expected, with suspicious traffickers constantly changing the drop-off point, unaware that the pilot is double-crossing with the DEA to frame them all.
To make matters worse, he also has to worry about the condition of his wife, who is home alone, gravely ill with cancer and depressed over the loss of her daughter, drowning her grief in alcohol and drugs.
As he flies in the dark, counting the minutes to arrival, Sean tries to hold on and cross the border, but when he suddenly can no longer contact his wife, he immediately senses he has a big problem.
Beast of Burden is a high-altitude, claustrophobic thriller with precisely Daniel Radcliffe as its greatest strength because, beyond a few sporadic flashbacks and the tense final outcome, the whole affair takes place in the narrow cockpit of the plane.
We are, therefore, talking about a story made almost entirely of dialogue, so action buffs at any cost are warned ahead of time.
Swedish director Jesper Ganslandt brings out the best in the low budget, making the most of the excellent work for a cast mostly made up of unfamiliar faces and names, except for our dear former Harry Potter.
In short, we’re talking about a high-tension thriller, with some tasty action moments in the finale to close the curtain, that, despite its meager premise, manages to excite far more than expected.
Guns Akimbo (2019)
After two dramas relying on psychological characters’ introspection, we arrive at a fun, fast-paced, off-the-wall action movie where Daniel Radcliffe plays Miles Lee Harris, a humble programmer alternating his anonymous days between home, work, and nothing else.
Spending all his time on the Internet, he always follows SKIZM, a show where contestants face off to the death to the delight of the viewers, until one night, the boss of this illegal show has him beaten and kidnapped by his henchmen because of an offensive comment on social media.
After nailing two guns with counted bullets to his hands, the madman informs him that he must survive for an entire day from his killers, led by the insane Nix Degraves, the undisputed champion of the show.
Guns Akimbo is a merry-go-round of social insanity for an hour and forty minutes of unchecked violence and humor in a parody about the nastiness of today’s web and social networks.
For once, the keyboard lion spewing insults safe in anonymity must come face to face with those he offends in action scenes that are as funny as they are cruel and spectacular.
Daniel Radcliffe plays along with self-deprecating humor, slowly becoming an armed killer against his own will in a whirlwind of hilarious misunderstandings and subterfuge, alternating with shootout sequences and fights to the death.
Even better is the crazy Samara Weaving, a beautiful and dangerous punk outcast and unrivaled video game murder artist.
So let’s give a big round of applause to Jason Lei Howden, director of that other metal-rock horror gem that was Deathgasm, continuing with his irreverent and destructive style to set the oppressive modern political correctness on fire.
And God knows we need such a voice, especially in these times of forced single-mindedness on social media and beyond.
Escape From Pretoria (2020)
We definitely change the mood with the dramatic biography of young activists Tim Jenkin and Stephen Lee, locked up in Pretoria’s maximum security prison on charges of subversive propaganda.
Although they were just young and terrified boys, they determinedly began to scout out every weakness in the guards and the walls around them while other inmates tried to discourage them from a feat deemed impossible.
Among them was old Denis Goldberg, former engineer and resistance leader arrested with Nelson Mandela, who admires the boys, though he despises their naive optimism as a weakness.
But everything changes when Jenkin has the simple but brilliant idea of carefully observing the keys to their jailers’ belts.
Carving a copy of the keys out of wood, he begins with Stephen and another inmate, the die-hard Leonard, to study the guards’ schedules and the route of the many corridors before they can attempt the impossible escape.
Director Francis Annan and his team faithfully recreate the controversial and racist atmosphere of the apartheid era, inspired by the book written by Tim Jenkin himself.
Besides Daniel Radcliffe, who is excellent and believable in the many high-tension scenes, the rest of the cast is almost exclusively male, with Daniel Webber as his friend Stephen Lee and the even better Mark Leonard Winter as Leonard Fontaine.
The latter does not actually exist but is a fictional character created as a tribute to all the victims of the cruel prison system of a nation that has long suffered the obtuse cruelty of justified and institutionalized racism.
Indeed, it is essential to remember that after Jenkin and Lee’s historic escape, it was more than a decade before they were able to return home until the dictatorial regime began to crumble and finally disappear into the horror of the past.
Weird: The Al Yankovic Story (2022)
As I always like to do, we end on an explosive flick with another biopic with the mocking tones of demented comedy: the true/false story of singer-songwriter Weird Al Yankovic.
It all begins with little Al’s childhood in a small California town, where he lives with his strict father, who sees only a future as a factory worker for him.
However, Al is passionate about singing and writing songs and playing the accordion left at his home by an unfortunate peddler.
Years go by, and Al goes to college, where he composes funny takes on popular songs, which leads him to success as he goes from playing in clubs to working for Dr. Demento, a famous disc jockey and his idol since childhood.
Demento gets him a contract with Capitol Records, which had previously rejected his songs, but seeing widespread appreciation makes Weird Al their workhorse, eventually going so far as to launch the career of the young and sexy Louise Veronica Ciccone, aka later known as Madonna.
Although new to filmmaking, director Eric Appel launches into unrestrained madness with the script collaboration of the real Yankovic, who lends himself to the game without mythologizing his character too much, but instead poking fun at himself with great self-mockery.
While not much resemblance, Daniel Radcliffe plays the naive, Weird enthusiasm of Al Yankovic and his inexhaustible creative/destructive energy to excellent effect.
Even better is the stunning Evan Rachel Wood as the ruthless Madonna, whose relationship with Yankovic ends with the insane all-out war on the drug cartel led by Pablo Escobar, whose leader Madonna will take over.