With nearly 25 years of acting, Idris Elba has become a household name. You will find him reprising roles in his favourite movies from MCU to series that convey him as a detective. Today we spotlight an actor whose growth has been dynamic as he continues to play roles that will keep you intrigued and captivated for hours.
About Idris Elba
Idris Elba, born Idrissa Akuna Elba OBE on 6th September 1972, is an English actor and DJ. An alumnus of the National Youth Music Theater in London, he is known for roles including the HBO series Stringer Bell, DCI John Luther in the BBC One series and Heimdall in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. His magnetic charisma transcends genres and is an ever-evolving talent making him an actor who doesn’t merely perform but also transforms. Read more about Idris Elba on IMDB.
Recently he portrayed a negotiator in Hijack, now showing on Apple TV Plus. This story tells the story of the passengers and crew in real time over 7 hours. But before you head over to watch it, here are the best Idris Elba movies that highlight his diversity in acting as he takes various roles across different genres.
Best Idris Elba Movies
The Suicide Squad (2021)
Idris Elba joined the DCEU (DC Extended Universe) in the Suicide Squad, where he plays Bloodsport, a sharpshooter with exceptional skills who leads a ragtag group of supervillains into dangerous territory in a search and destroy mission on Corto Maltese. We see Elba become Robert DuBois, a mercenary with a high-tech suit. He joins Amanda Walla’s Task Force X to shorten his sentence after being convicted of shooting Superman with a kryptonite bullet.
Other than Idris Elba, you will also get to see Maggot Robbie, John Cena and Joel Kinnaman, Sylvester Stallone, Viola Davis, Jai Courtney, Peter Capaldi, and Nathan Fillion, among other stars, deliver electrifying performances.
The Take (2016)
The Take, also known as ‘Bastille Day’, is an action thriller that follows the story of a rogue CIA agent and a skilled pickpocket as they uncover a conspiracy in the heart of Paris. Idris Elba plays Sean Brair teams up with Michael Mason (Richard Madden) after a bomb detonates in a busy square. Initially, Brair (Elba) is sceptical of Mason’s innocence, but eventually, he comes through and discovers a web of corruption and deception implicating influential people in the French Government.
Elba’s portrayal of a no-nonsense Brair and Madden’s depiction of a resourceful and yet cunning Mason, this film will leave you at the edge of your seats as we see resilience in individuals who are mere pawns in a high-stakes game.
Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw (2019)
Genre: Action Adventure
We meet Idris Elba in this high-octane action spin-off from the Fast & Furious franchise centred around a dynamic duo of Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) and Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson). This film starts when a deadly virus called “Snowflake” is stolen by a cyber genetically enhanced villain Brixton Lore (Idris Elba). The virus poses a global threat which can result in the extinction of the human race. To stop Lore’s (Idris Elba) plans, the mercenary and the no-nonsense lawman must team up to track and defeat Brixton. Beyond the adrenaline-pumping action, “Hobbs & Shaw” delivers a blend of humour and camaraderie to the forefront.
Pacific Rim (2013)
Genre: SciFi Action
In Pacific Rim we see destruction as monstrous creatures (Kaiju) arise from the ocean depths to wreak havoc on humanity. In response, the humans band together to create humanoids called Jaegers, piloted by warriors capable of combating the Kaiju. It’s here that we meet Idris Elba as Marshal Stacker Pentecost, the commanding officer of the Jaeger program. He commands two pilots named Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam) and Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi), who are the heart of this film’s story. His performance as Stacker Pentecost brings intensity to the character as the team battles the threat.
Beasts of No Nation (2015)
Genre: War drama
In Beasts of No Nation, we meet Agu (Abraham Attah), a young boy whose life is torn apart when his village is attacked by rebel forces. He becomes a child soldier under the command of a ruthless Commandant (Idris Elba) while fighting a guerilla war. This film shows the transition of Agu from a child to a hardened soldier while being manipulated by the Commandants manipulation blurring the lines between right and wrong.
Idris Elbas acting is both magnetic and chilling as he blurs the lines of morality during wartime. In this movie, you will see the psychological toll of war on child soldiers and the societal impact of conflicts.
Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom (2013)
Genre: Biopic Drama
Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom is a biographical drama exploring the life of Nelson Mandela. Idris Elba portrays Mandela and captures the public persona and the private struggles of a man who has become an icon worldwide. Elba shows Mandela’s transformation from a young lawyer advocating for justice to an activist who settles for armed resistance in the face of apartheid’s brutal regime.
Idris Elba plays the key moments in Mandela’s life, including imprisonment on Robben Island for 27 years, peace efforts, release from prison and his election as president. Through Idris Elba’s compelling performance, we witness Mandela’s personal and political evolution as a visionary leader.
American Gangster (2007)
American Gangster is a crime drama that shows the complex world of drug trafficking, corruption and law enforcement in New York in the 70s. It shows the rise and fall of the real-life drug kingpin Frank Lucas and the efforts of law enforcement officers. Although not an extensive role, Idris Elba depicts Tango, a supporting character in the film, as it contributes to the depths and complexities of the story. Tango is a trusted member of Frank Lucas’s (Dancel Washington) inner circle. He is responsible for overseeing key aspects of Lucas’s drug empire.
Prometheus, directed by Ridley Scott, is a sci-fi thriller exploring the origins of humanity, the quest for knowledge and interaction with extraterrestrial technology. This film centres around a group of scientists on a space expedition about the spaceship Prometheus heading to a distant moon in search of the creators of the technology found on Earth. They discover shocking revelations about the origins of life on Earth and the dangers of the hostile creatures on the moon. Idris Elba’s Janek, a charismatic captain of the Prometheus, is instrumental and leads the crew amidst the mounting mysteries and threats as they arise.
The Mountain Between Us (2017)
Genre: Drama Thriller
The Mountain Between Us is a survival drama that follows the journey of two strangers as they rely on each other’s strengths and resilience after a plane crash. We meet Alex Martin (Kate Winslet) and Ben Bass (Idris Elba) as they try to stay alive in a remote snow-covered mountain range. With no hope of immediate rescue, they navigate treacherous terrain while facing dangerous wildlife. Their initial connection evolves into a bond forged by shared adversity. Idris Elba’s acting, range of emotions and on-screen chemistry with Kate Winslet make this movie a must-watch.
Genre: Animated Comedy
Apart from on-screen appearances, Idris Elba has provided his famous voice to animated films. Zootopia follows a young bunny that relocates to the big city to fulfil her dream of becoming a police officer. She teams up with a con artist Fox to uncover a conspiracy in the city’s administration. Here is where we meet Idris Elba. He voices the no-nonsense head of the police department – Chief Bogo. Idri’s voice range contributed to Chief Bogo’s character by infusing it with authority, seriousness, and emotional depth, enhancing the overall experience of Zootopia.
I know MCU fans will have my head off for doing this, but how can I leave without mentioning Heimdall? Or Luther? But here is the memorable mention, even though small, we acknowledge that his best acting is in the TV show – Luther as he portrays the detective who always gets his guy. And Heimdell – the gatekeeper of Asgard.
Questions people ask about Idris Elba
What is Idris Elba’s ethnicity?
Is Idris Elba the next James Bond?
Is Idris Elba in Extraction 2
If you feel we have not done justice to this list, let’s continue the conversation in the comments section.
Mufaddal Fakhruddin has been writing about games and technology for the past 15 years. He has lost count as to how many reviews he has written over the years, but he is sure headphone reviews make up at least 70% of that.