One writer. Six films. In a row. Pray for them

Empire (UK) - - REVIEW -

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 ten, 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!

10:00AM 300 (2006)

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 (this month’s First Take Club in­ductee, Drew Pearce, out­lines nicely why on page 138), 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 (2007)

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.

2:35PM ROCKNROLLA (2008)

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.

5:00PM CO­RI­OLANUS (2011)

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.


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.

10:00PM GEOSTORM (2017)

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.


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