There are a number of actors with whom I’d like to see on
the silver screen again simply because of their untapped talent.  But there are others who deserve to be looked
upon in a new light because of their screen presence.  Whether or not their acting is up to par is
beside the point; sometimes, presence can go a long way.  Tom Berenger falls in the latter

Now I’m not going to say that I miss seeing Berenger on
screen because he’s an undiscovered talent who made unsuccessful decisions
throughout his career.  No, he knows he
has a lackluster acting range and I do not intend for that to sound demeaning
in any way.  Berenger is a different kind
of actor, one who uses his undeniable presence instead of fancy one-liners
(even though he spouts his fair share of those).

The first time I saw Berenger was when I watched the classic Major League (argue with me all you want, but it’s still a classic that was
ruined by two horrible sequels).  In that
1989 film, he played Jake Taylor, a character with the most generic name that
I’ve ever seen.  Taylor is the aging
catcher for the fledgling Cleveland Indians. 
While Berenger was outshined by the bigger performances of Charlie Sheen
and Wesley Snipes (playing Willie Mays Hayes, now there’s a name!), his character
was more of the strong, silent type; the type of guy you wouldn’t want to mess
with because, quite frankly, he scared the shit out of you.

Years later, I watched Platoon and my impression of
Berenger changed greatly.  He played the
role of the sadistic Sgt. Bob Barnes, the perverse opposite of his character in Major League.   He was a guy who used his experience and demented
world-view to mold the younger soldiers into the type of monsters he wanted
them to be (in a way, a direct mirror of his own personality).  Berenger was haunting in his portrayal as
this broken man and truly made the film unforgettable, with the help of Charlie
Sheen and Willem Dafoe. 

Looking at his performance in Platoon today, you’d
automatically think it was a fluke.  In
many ways, it was.  He never had the
opportunity to prove himself because he probably got offers to do higher
profile fluff projects instead of taking the risk that all great actors need to

Regardless of his professional decisions, Berenger starred in
a number of interesting and all out entertaining projects over the years.  He starred opposite Billy Zane in Sniper,
Sharon Stone in Sliver and did battle with the evil Marc Anthony (yes, that Marc Anthony!) in The Substitute.  While I’m on the topic, let me just say that The
is easily one of my favorite guilty pleasures; the acting is
horrendous, but the execution of the story itself (about an undercover
mercenary seeking revenge on high schoolers who brutalized his wife) is just
too outrageous to ignore.  Seek that film
out if you get the chance.  I’m not
saying it’s a film that will change your opinion on whether or not you’ll like
Berenger (or any actors in the film, for that matter).  It will, however, be a great way to waste
some time. 

After The Substitute, everything was quiet on the Berenger
front.  In fact, I pretty much forgot
about him.  Then I saw Training Day. 

To be honest, I only noticed Berenger was in the film after
watching it on late-night television just a few years ago for the third time.  It’s not that he was caked in pounds of
make-up or anything.  He just looked like…
a stranger.  Someone you remember from
when you were younger but aren’t too sure from where specifically.  He had one scene in the film and it was in
the same frame as Denzel Washington, so I’m sure you know who got most of the
attention.  But seeing Berenger again was
great.  I don’t know if what he did was
even considered acting, but he’s still got the attitude and swagger.  That’s something they can’t teach you in
acting school. 

Do I think Berenger will ever make a comeback?  Sadly, I think not.  The filmmaking landscape has changed too drastically
and audiences regard action stars in a different light as opposed to when
Berenger was the “go to” guy back in the 80’s and 90’s.  Come to think of it, that now seems like such
a long time ago.