Few actors are more comfortable with their positions in Hollywood than Gerard Butler. While he’s made attempts to cross into other genres occasionally, he’s long been most at home making fairly schlocky action movies.
The latest of those, Plane, just hit theaters, and seems to be the ideal movie for January, a month when December holdovers are often still on top at the box office and new releases are either non-existent or just plain awful. In honor of Plane‘s release, let’s look back at the five best action movies from Butler’s long career.
The role that proved more than any other that Butler was an action star, 300 is also the film that launched Zack Snyder into the stratosphere. Telling the story of the 300 Spartans who stood up to an army of 10,000 Persians in an unwinnable battle, Butler’s sheer commitment to the project is ultimately what makes the movie so compelling.
He’s a perfect fit for Snyder’s slo-mo-filled, heavily stylized action, and their combined energy is what has allowed 300 to pass into the realm of iconic in the years since it was first released in 2006. Why does this Greek guy have a Scottish accent? If you’re worried about that, you’re thinking too hard.
Perhaps the quintessential Gerard Butler action movie, Den of Thieves follows an elite unit of the LAPD led by Butler who finds itself on a collision course with some highly trained ex-military criminals. This low-brow version of Heat delivers many of the thrills of that movie, with a little bit of a lighter touch on the pathos.
At a full 140 minutes, Den of Thieves has a number of great individual action set pieces, but what really makes the movie work is the B-movie feeling of everything about it. Den of Thieves is stylish and fun, but it’s not taking itself too seriously.
Butler’s most successful franchise to date is, improbably, the one in which he plays a former secret service agent tasked with saving the president from a wide variety of calamities.
Olympus Has Fallen sees Butler taking on a terrorist organization that has invaded the White House, but the subsequent sequels are just as compelling as this first installment. Few men look better darting around corners and taking down bad guys than Gerard Butler, and in Olympus Has Fallen, he gets the chance to do it against one of the most familiar backdrops in America.
The perfect blend of action and disaster, Greenland is actually a fairly striking look at what it would be like to live through the end of the world. Butler leads his family across the country as they attempt to find a safe haven from a comet that is leveling cities.
As they travel, they meet people both great and terrible, and ultimately have to come to terms with their life as it crumbles around them. Greenland is probably one of the most moving movies of Butler’s career, and it earned its spot on this list by proving that the actor was far more than just a Scottish action hero.
Gerard Butler hasn’t been seen in a romantic mode for quite a few years, but he is definitely capable of turning on the charm. In The Bounty Hunter, Butler stars opposite Jennifer Aniston as two halves of a formerly married couple.
Butler is a bounty hunter who gets a call to bring his ex-wife in, and the two wind up on something of a chase after she escapes him to chase down a lead in a murder investigation. There’s still plenty of action here for those who like to see Butler in that mode, but it’s a little bit lighter on its feet than some of the other movies on this list.
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