Before a screening of Gerard Butler’s new submarine thriller, Hunter Killer, I tried to guess which Gerard Butler clichés would make an appearance. I made the following guesses:
• Gerard Butler will have an opportunity to kill someone but will not, proving his superior morality
• Everyone will love and admire Gerard Butler
• Gerard Butler will be good at everything
• The commanding officer will be specifically noted as highly educated but will be ineffectual when the sh-t hits the fan
• Gerard Butler will have to depose his commanding officer
• Male bonding will be emphasized to the point of homoeroticism
And here is how I did:
• The first time we see Gerard Butler, he is hunting deer in Scotland—with a bow and arrow because guns aren’t manly enough. He sees a magnificent buck but doesn’t kill him, respecting the majesty of the creature, and then finding a doe and fawn and sparing the family unit. Gerard Butler is good, Gerard Butler is kind.
• Everyone does, in fact, love and admire Gerard Butler. He plays Joe Glass, captain of a submarine, and though he is new to his command his men instantly love him because he is a straight shooter, and not one of those prissy f-cking Annapolis officers who only know their crew through their files. Gerard Butler—I don’t care what the character’s name is, Gerard Butler is always playing Gerard Butler—started out as one of them, and worked his way up to captain from the enlisted ranks. He knows his men because he has done all their jobs.
• Gerard Butler is good at everything and informs his crew he can do all their jobs better than them, but he won’t.
• In a startling twist, Gerard Butler is the commanding officer. However, his second-in-command is one of those prissy f-cking Annapolis officers, and the movie broadly implies that education is meaningless in the face of Gerard Butler’s gut instinct. I’m pretty sure Annapolis is not a walk in the park, but it’s also not the only way to become an officer. So I asked a friend who is in the Navy what the process is for an enlisted service member to become an officer and guess what? THEY HAVE TO GO TO SCHOOL. You have to have a bachelor’s degree for Officer Candidate School. I really wish action movies would stop acting like intelligence and education are a disease, especially when the main characters are intelligent, educated people.
• Male bonding IS emphasized to the point of homoeroticism.
Hunter Killer is basically what you think it is—a low-rent Hunt for the Red October that is a straight-up ludicrous hero fantasy. It features such cliché gems as “We’re not going to make it!”, “We’re not so different, you and I,” Gary Oldman cashing a paycheck, a token lady in a pantsuit, and a climax that features a countdown and a last-second reprieve. It’s not a good movie, but it’s also not boring, and parts of it are genuinely, unintentionally, funny. Like the equally preposterous The Accountant, Hunter Killer is good for rainy day viewing, and should find favor among bad action movie fans. I, for one, will put Hunter Killer into rotation alongside other Gerard Butler bad action movie classics Geostorm and Gods of Egypt. Of those three, Hunter Killer is the best, mostly because it’s coherent.