This is, and has always been, a Gerard Butler stan account. These are simply the facts: ever since I saw his bizzaro brilliance in Den of Thieves, I have been seeking out and enjoying Gerard Butler’s movies with a passionate intensity. I just love what Gerard Butler brings to his roles; he might have been long-since written off as a B-list romcom-cum-action star, but honestly, I think he deserves to be way more than that.
And that is the energy that we need right now. His latest, Greenland, is a great example of that. Releasing a disaster movie at a time like this has not proved the smartest move in the world of cinema so far – Songbird, the Michael Bay-produced COVID thriller was universally panned as a bad movie in even worse taste – but I was pleasantly surprised to notice the good reviews pouring in upon its release.
Gerard Butler stars, alongside Monica Belluci, as a newly-seperated man dealing with life with his ex-wife and their son when a global disaster (meteors, and lots of them) force them on the run to try and escape to the titular safe zone of Greenland. It’s a simple premise, but a risky one for a time like this, when things have felt about as apocalyptic as they ever have for a lot of people who’ll be watching this movie.
But Greenland works. And I think, in part, it’s because the threat that the characters are dealing with is a constantly palpable one. This isn’t a virus, impossible to see, it’s big space rocks falling from the sky – weirdly comforting in their literalness, somehow. And, even without any of the external factors influencing it, Greenland is just a well-structured, well-acted action-thriller, constantly evolving its threats into something new – director Ric Roman Waugh keeps the tension pulsing and the plot barreling forward in a way that never allows you to stop and overthink anything too hard. The action swings between small-scale chaos and Big Space Rocks with everything in between, finding a balance between the human struggle and cosmic.
But, honestly, what stands out for me in Greenland more than anything is just how bloody good Gerard Butler is as a leading man. Not because I necessarily think he is a mountainous thespian or anything like that (though his Corialanus is hard to deny), but because his screen presence is so imbued with genuine enjoyment. Even when he’s doing something as inherently silly as fighting the weather itself, Butler just has this joyful, impossibly engaging presence; easy charisma, palpable warmth, real old-fashioned leading-man charm, and I, for one, would like to see more of it. I feel as though the grand, sweeping cinematic universes that abound right now have tried to sell me on so many leading men, but in this very regimented, very specific way; Gerard Butler is the antithesis to that, loose, fun, easy, and genuinely entertaining. Greenland, for all its seriousness, benefits from that beautifully; this does not feel like a studio attempt to package a leading man to us, but a genuinely organic performance from an actual human being who happens to enjoy running around and being silly in front of a greenscreen for a living.
I know that it may not be a popular opinion out here in movie review land, but I am going to continue loving on Gerard Butler and his deeply watchable, enormously fun block-blustery leading man charm. Greenland works because Gerard Butler does, and I want the movie world as a whole to give him all the love he deserves for serving classic and unregimented movie star vibes to us at a time when everything feels so deeply planned and plucked and plotted to perfection.
By Louise MacGregor
(header image via Roger Ebert.com)