Friday, March 4, 2016

Top 5 Films Featuring Gerard Butler

Gerard Butler

This list is in no particular order

These are just some of my favorite films that Gerard Butler, the actor and one of the stars of the new films London Has Fallen and Gods of Egypt has been in over the years that I enjoyed either based solely on their performance or it was just a generally well made and enjoyable film that they happened to part of in a supporting capacity.

The career trajectory of Gerald Butler is one of the most fascinating cinematic case studies to come out of Hollywood in a very long time. While he has seen his fair share of financial success with hits such as 300 and Olympus Has Fallen he has had a very difficult time trying to break free of that stereotypical role of the pompous ass that he has become associated with over the years. The reason for that is because despite his lack of range he just does that one specific thing so darn well. So whenever he tried his hand at romance (P.S. I Love You), comedy (The Bounty Hunter) or something more serious (Phantom of the Opera) it just never really worked. This may have been more a problem with the material he had to work with but regardless the resulting effect is that Butler remains a perplexing conundrum when it comes to being a leading man.

Will he ever find that role that helps him break free of his action shackles or will he forever be a slave to the same roles and characters we associate with him? Well the problem with that is many consider his role in Zack Snyder's 300 to be his breakout film which has already come and gone. Unless your name is John Travolta or even Michael Keaton, chances are that a second breakout role is unlikely at best and with the man still picking odd projects like Chasing Mavericks and The Ugly Truth, he won't be finding that ever elusive second breakout role anytime soon. Even with as many turds that appear on Butler's resume though he has proven that he can pick a good film from time to time to help remind fans why they like him and keep giving him a chance to get back in their good graces. These are the top 5 films I believe best represent Gerard Butler's career up to this point and also the types of films he needs to make more of in the future.



While Butler had been acting for years before the smash hit Frank Miller adaptation 300 came along, it was his role as King Leonidas that put him on the map for many and rightfully so. Upon release 300 was a marvel of style and technical prowess that up until then was unmatched. Many hailed it for its operatic violence which felt ripped straight from the pages of the graphic novel it was taken from and others knocked it for being a testosterone fueled orgy of epic proportions with manly men being more gleefully brutish than any man has the right to be. But all these years later while the effects no longer hold the same luster as they once did, the violence seems tame compared to more modern examples of the genre and movies geared towards the male need for self indulgence are in full supply (mostly in thanks to the Expendables films), the one thing that still stands tall is Butler's commanding performance as the King of Sparta.

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Rock N Rolla

RocknRolla is more of an ensemble effort much in the same vain as director Guy Ritchie's classic gangster film Snatch but that doesn't mean star Gerard Butler can't take some of the acclaim. A failure at the box office and a last ditch effort by Ritchie to recapture the fame he found earlier in his career before giving into the Hollywood machine with films like the Robert Downey Jr. Sherlock films, RocknRolla is one of those films that was more a victim of circumstance than anything having to do with it being good or bad. The film is chock full of then mostly unknown star power such as Idris Elba and Tom Hardy amongst a large cast of well known character actors but Butler is still at the front and center more than anyone else and his trademark deadpan witticisms are in full effect. Aside from participating in one of the single most ridiculous on foot chases in film history, Butler stands tall in a film filled with very large personalities.

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Olympus Has Fallen

Some may say that Butler's role as the John McClane-esque Mike Banning is his second shot at breaking out but in reality it is more like an evolution of the same persona that has pervaded almost every single character the actor has ever played. He is a smart ass, loves to inflict pain and is a full on patriot, traits that can be applied to every single character on this list and even some that aren't. As a film Olympus Has Fallen worked simply because of how it unabashadly stole from every Die Hard clone to ever be made and never once apologized for it. Embracing its R rating and providing a lead character that audiences could cheer on as he cut his way through wave after wave of enemies all the while pounding his chest with a metaphorical American flag in hand, this was more a case of emulating a certain style of film and doing very little to alter the successful formula than anything else but still a lot of dumb fun.


Reign of Fire

One of Butler's pre-300 roles finds him at the heart of a post apocalyptic world filled with dragons, Christian Bale and a steroid pumped Matthew McConaughey dragonslayer who is the complete opposite of his zen-like Lincoln driving self. Out of all the films on this list, Reign of Fire is the one where Butler has the least amount of screen time making this more of an interesting footnote on his way to stardom than anything all that significant in the realm of his performance. But let's not forget the dragons as they are the real star of this action fantasy flick and despite how few we actually get to see considering this is a world filled with them, when they do show up they are often fairly awe inspiring. For a genre flick though it is pretty good and that has more to do with its surprisingly solid cast (including Butler) and its cool dragons than anything to do with its standard post apocalyptic plot.


Law Abiding Citizen

Law Abiding Citizen is what I consider to be a sort of trash flick, but one that embraces its trashiness to unparalelled heights. Although we hardly ever get to see Butler do any of the dirty work, he still provides a fairly effective sense of danger whenever he belts out threats to an unsuspecting Jamie Fox who is responsible for letting the guy who killed Butler's entire family go after a plea bargain is made to set him free. There is very little to say about this one other than if you like to sleaze it up a bit and watch a vigilante punish the s**t out of people in laughably complex ways then this is a good one to see. It is also a somewhat different sort of character for Butler to play which is sort of refreshing although he still comes off as that smart self assured pompous ass we have come to know more often than not which in this case is more of a plus than a negative.



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