GERARD BUTLER FILMS
One writer. Six films. In a row. Pray for them
IN SOME WAYS, Gerard Butler’s career since he broke through to the A-list with 300 back in 2006 has been the very definition of mixed bag. There have been minor triumphs, the odd stinker or 10, and some utterly bizarre, baffling choices (not just of film, of accent). Yet he remains a star, and a strangely compelling one. A Gerry Butler film, on its own, can provide rare and wondrous delights. Six of them in a row? This! Is! Madness!
Let’s start at the start of his stardom. Butler had been around for a while (he played Dracula and the Phantom Of The Opera) before Zack Snyder cast him in this visually splendid Frank Miller adaptation. The film itself has dated, but Butler remains the real deal: snarling, shouting, stabbing and slicing like the head of the Scottish stag do you’ve always feared you’ll run into on a night out.
12:15PM P.S. I LOVE YOU
After hitting the A-list, Gerry made the first of his very odd choices, starring as a dead Irishman in this romantic drama about Hilary Swank getting over the death of her husband. I say “Irishman” only because we’re repeatedly told that’s where Butler’s character is from his accent straddles more countries than the EU. Butler is a fine actor, but should take a leaf out of Sean Connery’s book and only do Schottisch accschentsh.
Three films in, there’s a theme developing here: a natural charm, in this Guy Ritchie caper flick and P.S. I Love You, that shows Butler could be a fine light comedian if he wasn’t so dedicated to shooting and shouting at things. Rocknrolla is odd, a not entirely successful attempt by Ritchie to revisit the style of Lock, Stock and Snatch, but it coasts by on the charms of its cast, not least Butler as One Two. A sequel is promised at the end. I’m vaguely disappointed it hasn’t happened.
Now here’s the real outlier. Gerry vs The Bard. In Ralph Fiennes’ clever, bloodsoaked adaptation of one of Shakespeare’s lesser-known plays, Butler gives as good as he gets against Fiennes’ eponymous anti-hero, and reinforces my theory that there’s a genuinely good, interesting character actor here, under the grunting and grimacing. Although I still think Butler took the movie because he heard the title and thought it was a frat comedy about someone’s arse.
7:30PM OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN
(2013) Five films in, my eyes are glazing over. What I need is some preposterous ultra-violence to wake me up. Enter Antoine Fuqua’s Die Hard in the White House, in which Gerry plays a US Secret Service agent who must have spent a lot of time growing up in Scotland. He’s also the only thing standing between some terrorists and the destruction of the free world. Or something. Its politics don’t stand up to scrutiny, but it has a bit where Gerry twats someone on the head with a bust of
Lincoln, and the single greatest line of his career: “Let’s play a game of ‘Fuck Off’. You go first.” This may be the greatest movie ever made.
No, this is the greatest movie ever made. I reviewed this gloriously daft meteorological thriller when it came out and gave it two stars. I stand by that — it’s objectively bad and utterly barmy — but also want to give it five stars alone for the bit where Gerry’s American science man, who must have spent years backpacking in Scotland, delivers a convoluted video message to his brother. Every second is nonsense, yet few stars are better at selling nonsense than Gerry. May the Butler continue to do it for years to come. CHRIS HEWITT
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