Let’s take a trip back in time. Back to a prehistoric era. 2007, to be exact. I was seventeen-years-old, and I, along with many of my classmates, had just seen a talking set of abs kick a Persian emissary into a bottomless pit, right after shouting “THIS IS SPARTA!” I’m a man now.
Imagine my surprise at seeing, just a year later, this same set of abs holding a heart and looking coy next to Katherine Heigl.
Let me make it clear that Gerard Butler has not lost his bad ass card. Whenever he gets pulled over, he still has to show license, proof of insurance and what a sweet uppercut looks like when you’re holding a shield. To be held by Gerard Butler, guns have to get a Butler Registration. And if you’re standing within four feet of the Grand Canyon, Gerard Butler is legally allowed to try and punt you into it.
But he has lost his stability card. Maybe it’s because his eyes tell a tender, guarded story, or because I would feel so safe in his arms, but he has transitioned to being half-action hero and half-romantic comedy star.
This is something that people like Sylvester Stallone and Jean Claude Van Damme were never able to do. Sure, Van Damme showed his ass (and the splits) to a lot of reporters, and when you have to ask Stallone to repeat “I love you” because you didn’t understand it the first time, it totally means that that love is real. But they just don’t have that romantic allure. You wouldn’t invite Timecop or Rambo out for coffee. But you’d totally listen to Leonidas talk about his relationship with his father.
Despite the fact that it seems random that, out of everyone who’s tried to balance both fighting dudes and still making it home in time to thank you for dinner, Gerard Butler was the one to succeed, I believe that this was no accident. Gerard Butler puts the man in “Romance” for a reason. He’s a science experiment.
“A fine specimen” said someone smart, after they saw 300. “Men love him, and soon, soccer moms will too.” Gerard was kidnapped and brought to an underground lab, where Operation Alpha: Biceps and Roses was performed. Implanted with enough clever one liners to cover both shooting someone in the head and acting aloof about a kiss. Injected with a serum that makes him able to throw a man, but look tender and vulnerable while doing it. Gerard was turned into a perfect killing machine.
“I knew it was your birthday, so I brought you these chocolates” he whispered hoarsely, as he wobbled from the cryo-tank.
“A success!” the scientists screamed in unison.
It hasn’t always worked out though. When mixing romance and action, the bio-grafts that were sewn into Gerard’s head sometimes go haywire. You can see this happening in The Bounty Hunter, where he co-starred with Jennifer Aniston. If you’ve ever seen Jennifer Aniston, you know she’s the absolute epitome of being both beautiful and desperate at forty. And it was just too much for Gerard to handle. He couldn’t find the right balance. Every look he gives Aniston in that film could be interpreted as a death stare. I feared for Aniston’s life during the scene where she and Butler stayed at a bed and breakfast.
I sweated and whispered to myself, “Please, Gerard. Stay focused on the love. Don’t rip her arms off.” I saw Gerard strain. There had been a car chase earlier, and there were shootouts to come. Could Butler stay on track, or would the director call cut because the room would soon be covered in Friends lead? Luckily, Gerard pulled through. He even kissed her in the end, while in a jail cell. Usually that location would be the impetus for a rampage, but miracles do happen.
The last movie I saw with Gerard in it was a late viewing of Gamer, where he fought a cowboy Dexter. The next is Playing For Keeps, coming out this December, where apparently he just nails soccer moms. I think this could be a good move for Gerard, as long as he doesn’t have to punch anything.
If he does, well, we can only pray.