The name strikes fear into the heart of film critics worldwide. Since Gerard Butler made his starring debut in Dracula 2000, his reign of tyranny has spawned 19 years and 28 theatrically released films, most of which are very bad. Very, very bad. Of those 28 films, 22 are classified as “rotten” on Rotten Tomatoes. Of the six remaining, three are the How to Train Your Dragon movies for which, I think it is fair to say, Butler deserves almost no credit, two (Rocknrolla and 300) are on the VERY brink of tipping from “fresh” to “rotten”, and one, Coriolanus, is quite good but was released in only 21 theaters nationwide. The average Gerard Butler movie brings in a 37 percent Rotten Tomatoes rating. That’s a STAGGERINGLY low number.
Of course, critical reception is only part of the equation. Butler Truthers could write all of this off as stuffy critics overthinking blockbuster movies if the man consistently accounted for huge hits. Unfortunately, that has not been part of the Gerard Butler experience, either. Domestically, he’s been substantially more “miss” than “hit” (excepting the Dragon movies and 300) with his movies bringing in, on average, around $57 million per outing. Even accounting for the worldwide gross, which is much higher on Geostorm, London Has Fallen, and a few others, doesn’t really do the trick of cementing Mr. Butler’s status as a hitmaker.
And yet, he persists. We cannot in good conscience hold Mr. Butler’s early films, such as Timeline, the Tomb Raider sequel, and the aforementioned Dracula 2000, against him and surely, almost every actor goes through a rough stretch from time to time wherein some stinkers are to be expected. But when you tally up the number of massive misfires in a shockingly long career, you have to ask yourself just how in the world this dude keeps getting opportunities to lead movies. I don’t even dislike him on screen all that much and perhaps that’s the key; maybe he’s affable and charismatic enough to keep getting work despite lackluster returns. Whatever the reasoning, we should probably be applauding his ability to keep gettin’ them checks.
With Angel Has Fallen opening this weekend, I thought about using this space to rank Butler’s films but quickly realized there would be no way for me to sift between the bottom, say, 25 movies on his resume and find different ways to say “terrible.” So instead, each of our contributors has chosen and written about their own personal least favorite Butler movie among the myriad choices. Enjoy.
Shane Bierly – Gods of Egypt
Gerald Butler has certainly performed worse in other movies, but to date, Gods of Egypt is the worst film he has starred in. Aside from the obnoxiously white cast (playing…you know…ancient Egyptians…), this movie’s bad performances are topped only by worse dialogue and CGI that looks like it was done by a film student over a drunken Saturday afternoon. Coming in at 127 minutes, the film’s run time feels punishing. How this was ever green-lit, I will never know. But fans and haters alike of Mr. Butler would do well to skip this one.
Ariel Rada – 300
In 2006 Gerard Butler starred as King Leonidas in Zack Snyder’s sepia toned, uber-jacked 300. The movie itself is fine; a fun action flick that was expertly translated from page to screen. Snyder leveraged the goodwill from 300 to earn directing jobs for high profile projects: Watchmen, Man of Steel, and eventually Batman V. Superman. Butler’s Spartan Charisma helped usher in the age of Snyder-Verse DC movies, and we’ve suffered for it ever since.
Tobin Hodges – The Phantom of the Opera
You may think this is a hard choice since there’s so many movies to choose from. But let me ask you a question: Is there a movie where Gerard Butler attempts to sing “Music of the Night?” Yes? THEN THAT’S THE WORST ONE. Never let that man sing again! I would rather watch the Cats movie every day for the rest of my life than hear him sing Andrew Lloyd Webber again.
Megan Spell – P.S. I Love You
Considering I am relatively blessed to not be too educated in Butler’s filmography, I will say his worst movie in my opinion is PS I Love You. I wouldn’t put the full blame on Gerard, but he definitely didn’t do anything to elevate it. I was once shunned from a sleepover party for not swooning over this movie. I have not forgiven or forgotten.
Brian Gill – Geostorm
The best thing I can say for Geostorm is it gave me a new appreciation for Roland Emmerich. While a LOT of Emmerich’s filmography falls somewhere between “fun garbage” and “completely worthless garbage”, this movie is an incredible example of HOW MUCH WORSE a Roland Emmerich movie can be without Roland Emmerich behind the camera. Geostorm is the movie embodiment of the “At no point in your rambling…” speech from Billy Madison. Butler sits at the heart of this rampant incompetence, running from scene to scene doing and saying Gerard Butler Things without the gravitas of, say, Nicholas Cage to actually pull off and sell the inane, remarkably stupid things he says and does over and over again. It’s one of the most wheels-off movies ever made and a perfect microcosm of Butler’s film legacy.