Gerard Butler’s Best Action Movies 

Gerard Butler’s action films have a devoted following here at JoBlo, and here are some of our favorite movies he’s made.

Gerard Butler has had a varied career so far, with him playing everything from action leads to rom-com love interests to a singing Phantom of the Opera. But, it has to be said that his most consistently entertaining output falls squarely into the action genre, and as far as Gerard Butler movies go, the action films will always be our favorites. Here are some of his best:

300 (2006) 

best gerard butler movies 300

Perhaps THE film that put Gerard Butler on the map for most people, particularly the action and comic book crowds. Butler is in peek physical form here, showing off his bod as the ultimate Spartan warrior and proving that he is indeed quite the leading man. His performance here is commanding, a bit in your face (in the right way), and exactly what the film needed. Considering 300 is still well-remembered by most while its Butler-less sequel seems to have disappeared from the common consciousness says a lot about how he embodies the character of King Leonidas and how viewers connected to him in this Zack Snyder adaptation of the Frank Miller and Lynn Varley graphic novel. The film being shot basically fully on green screen with brand new, at the time, technology created a very particular look for the film and from interviews with the cast and crew, it seems it required some adaptation and readiness to embrace the unusual ways of shooting scenes. Butler’s performance here works great with all the green screen and CGI and shows a good evolution from his previous action-fantasy roles in Beowulf & Grendel, Timeline, and (Best Movie You Never Saw fave) Reign of Fire

Plane (2023) 

Released just a few months ago, right at that time of year (January) when it seems like nothing good gets to theaters, Plane was already working the odds stacked against it. Beyond its less-than-ideal release date, the film had changed distributors a few times before finally getting released by Lionsgate. The trailer didn’t bode too well either, but it ended up getting some positive reviews that helped lead it to a $52 million box office. It’s even getting a sequel, albeit without Butler as the lead. Here, he plays an airline pilot who has fallen from grace and thus works away from his family with a home base in Asia. On this flight that starts the film, things go awry with the weather, and he is forced to land his few passengers and a felon (the great Mike Colter) being extradited on an unknown island where things go from bad to worse. Butler does quite well here, showing the public that he is still a go-to actor for action thrillers. His big fight scene near the middle of the film works well and he really gets into the character of a man who has lost almost everything but is more than willing to fight for what hs has left. Butler sells the part here and really works with the depressed lead and his issues who finds hinself back in a crisis. This is a good Gerard Butler performance, one that works for his fans and for those willing to give this surprising film a chance. 

Olympus Has Fallen (2013) 

Gerard Butler’s Best Action Films: Olympus Has Fallen

The first in a trilogy, Olympus Has Fallen sets up high stakes by making its story about the US President and his security. Gerard Butler comes into this as a secret service agent who must rescue the President who was kidnapped after a terrorist attack. Generally speaking, this one is a bit more generic, but the work by Butler and Morgan Freeman here helps rescue this from being just another late-night cable-bound action film. There’s a bit more here of course and a lot of that “bit more” comes down to Butler’s work and the direction by Antoine Fuqua who is a pro at bringing action films and thrillers to the screen. In the case of Butler in this film, he takes a part seen so many times before, the lone protector who is the only one able to rescue the victim, and turns it into something more interesting. Between his capacities as an actor, his ease in handling action scenes, and his charisma, Butler pulls off the part of Mike Banning very well. So well in fact, that he reprised this role in both sequels London Has Fallen (2016) and Angel Has Fallen (2019). Sadly, another sequel seems unlikely, with Butler taking Millennium to court for shady accounting.

Gamer (2009) 

best Gerard butler movies gamer

Written and directed by Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor (the Crank guys), this film is a mix of science-fiction, action, and thriller set in a bleak, near future where gamers play using death row convicts as their avatars, pitting them against impossible odds. Butler plays Kable, a convict whose teenage player is Simon (played by a young Logan Lerman). Should this team-up survive thirty brutal gaming sessions, Kable will be set free. Of course, much like the recent Death Race films, it’s not going to be that easy. Gerard Butler gets to be the man who has the carrot of survival dangled in front of him, making him a man ready to do almost anything to survive. His work here is on the darker side, playing a killer ready to slay anyone in his way so that he can survive and possibly get back to his family. This leads to a part filled with action sequences, fight scenes, and violence, with a bit of background to make him more human and likable. Butler does well here with a part that could have easily been completely one-dimensional. Ludacris also steals more than a few scenes in this one.

Greenland (2020) 

Coming fairly close on the heels of Geostorm, many assumed Greenland would terrible. It is yet another weather disaster film with a man, his estranged wife, and their kid in the middle of it all. If it sounds familiar, it’s because it’s been done a ton of times (San Andreas, any random SyFy channel disaster movie, etc) so it was easy to see the trailer for Greenland and think, yeah no… And honestly the presence of Butler in this was probably the only reason some folks saw this movie at first. Thankfully, the film was made for a fairly modest budget considering the subject and how it was released in theaters (like many pandemic era movies it went straight to streaming in North America). Its $35 million budget means that the box office for it being at $52.3 million was not a complete loss. It was a mild hit and most people who dared to see it first were part of the reason why as it built quite a bit on word of mouth. The movie, to everyone’s surprise, was actually really good, thanks perhaps to the great director at the helm, Ric Roman Waugh (Shot Caller).At this point, more people have seen it and a sequel is in the works with Butler returning.

Copshop (2021) 

Released during the pandemic post lockdown, this one was skipped by far too many people. The trailer had some panache and the fact that it’s from director Joe Carnahan, who previously did the loads-of-fun Smokin’ Aces, Narc, The Grey, and a few more fun films, should have made it more of an attraction for action fans. Yet, the film only made a measly $6.9 million which basically means the public slept on this one and did not give the film its due. Gerard Butler stars opposite Frank Grillo here in a face-off set in a police station where Butler is after Grillo to kill him due to a con he pulled. This one is a lot of fun and the fact that other killers come into play makes this a dynamic movie where you never really know where it’s going exactly. Butler is having a ball here, playing a man filled with evil and a sort of almost-glee about his job. His back and forth with Grillo make this the kind of film that is easy to watch and where the runtime flies by.   

What are your favorite Gerard Butler movies? Let us know in the comments. And don’t forget, his latest flick, Kandahar, which reunites him with Greenland and Angel Has Fallen‘s Ric Roman Waugh, is now out on VOD!

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