By TIM DAVID HARVEY
Way down yonder in New Orleans comes an acting talent like no other. Anthony Mackie isn't the hottest, most underrated actor of the moment...he's been that for years. Ever since the 34 year old in 2009 emotionally told fellow breakout star Jeremy Renner, all bombed out and depleted that all he wanted to do was leave the war zone of the critically acclaimed, 'Avatar' beating 'The Hurt Locker' and have a son. Now a few years and many more great roles later Mackie is set to join this 'Bourne' star in the next assembling of 'The Avengers'.
Mackie is currently in the weight-room, arming up for the big battalion of Marvel sequels, starting with 'Captain America-The Winter Soldier', where Mackie will play the first African-American soldier 'The Falcon' which he tells 'Total Film' magazine is "an honor". Soon Anthony Mackie will join the legendary legacy making likes of Denzel Washington, Will Smith, Terrence Howard and Jamie Foxx as not only one of the best African-American actors, but one of the best actors around regardless of race or creed.
It doesn't end there either for the proud alumni of the Julliard School's Drama Division. The man with a voice as smooth as Morgan Freeman (he's already narrated 'The Best That Never Was' legendary ESPN '30 For 30' documentary about Philly football star Marcus Dupree) has lent his vocal and visionary talents to many films of late. Last year the man in all those trailers bolted up for 'Real Steel' with Wolverine, Hugh Jackman and camped it up with Captain America and co-star Chris Evans in 'What's Your Number'. This year he aided the president in a right hand performance in the 'other' Lincoln movie, 'Abraham Lincoln-Vampire Hunter' whilst tipping the balance with Sam Worthington on the surprise 'Phone Booth' esque hit 'Man On A Ledge'.
With 'Ten Year', 'Pain & Gain' and his lead role in 'Bolden' even more is coming out of Mackie, but that won't be before he suits up with fedoras and a badge alongside fellow breakout talents Josh Brolin, Ryan Gosling and Michael Pena to take down Sean Penn's 'Gangster Squad' in a classic, 50's American cops and robbers tale that looks to follow in the legendary law footsteps of 'The Untouchables', 'L.A. Confidential' and this years best film 'Lawless'. Even a respectable scene change (done after 'The Dark Knight Rises' shooting tragedy) won't halt this movie from being a cinematic classic.
Mackie's film debut came in Eminem's brilliant trip down '8 Mile' and with a real performance as Slim Shady's nemesis (he's so good at being bad you actually hated this undeniable, likable actor) you could see why only this man would do to play the one and only, late and great Tupac Shakur in the Biggie biopic 'Notorious'. If they ever do a full-length 'Pac picture then they've already found their man. He's already played the best rapper of all time on and off Broadway. The thespian who won an 'Independent Spirit Award' for his inspired performance as a homosexual man dealing with prejudice in 'Brother To Brother' and a 'Black Reel Award' for 'Night Catches Us'. And then of course there is the haunting, harrowing 'The Hurt Locker' and all the award acclaim for a man whose credits also include 'The Manchurian Candidate', 'Hollywood Homicide', 'Eagle Eye', 'Half Nelson', 'Freedomland', 'Sucker Free City', Spike Lee's 'She Hate Me' and Clint Eastwood's 'Million Dollar Baby' among other vast greats for this vastly versatile and great star player.
Far from just another character actor though it was his scene stealing, sobering and sweet performance in the Matt Damon vehicle 'The Adjustment Bureau' that really showed just how much Mackie could keep going, pushing the accelerator forward off the momentum built off 'The Hurt Locker's' Oscar hype. This was the 'Ascension Day' for the 'Crossover' talent who made his rounds on and off Broadway like George Benson as a serious, breakout star with off-key Jazz versatility. His sympathetic and sublime performance draped in smart clothing and conscious smarts helped change and re-course the great fate of this young, humble talent. Matt Damon could see it and now the whole world is going to. The Obie award winner can one day expect a film Oscar. He has an Academy of talent.
Thanks to his choices the former 24 hour New York play star and 'Topdog/Underdog' understudy of Don Cheadle is ready to show 'Iron Man's' War Machine that he has the mettle to play the Robin role to 'Captain America' perfectly as Sam Wilson's Falcon. Let's just hope Mackie can get his claws into 'The Avengers 2' too going into battle with Hawkeye once again. Hold your comic books for now though (or at least until 2014) as Anthony has more in the works including biopics on Jesse Owens, Antebellum slave revolt leader Nat Turner, and the previously mentioned jazz man Buddy Bolden. Who better for these roles then a man who one day may be taking flicks from the likes of Denzel, Will and Foxx? Anthony Mackie is the next one. The legacy of his legend is his to create and he's already made it. It's only going to get greater.