Is Gerard Butler getting smugger?

Friday November 16th 2012

So far, so good. At worst, you could say that Butler looks a little bit lecherous but then maybe that’s just a result of the outrageous subterfuge he’s currently engaged in with that letter. There are no visible signs of smugness whatsoever — if anything, he looks a little unsure of his worthiness to stand aside an acting titan as seasoned as Hilary Swank, then still two years shy of the Amelia Earhart biopic that would see her reduced to little more than a budget Natalie Portman.

Now things get a little more complicated. Butler’s expression here seems lost somewhere in the intersection of smug and bemused, as though he was planning on being a superior little shit until Katherine Heigl’s distinctive brand of neurotic charm pricked the walls of his hard-bitten exterior. What remains is a curiously hard-to-define emotional state that’s perhaps best described as ‘potentially smug’.

What a difference a year makes. Released just eight months after The Ugly Truth, this poster for The Bounty Hunter nonetheless sees Butler’s smugness level inflate by a factor of at least four. If the handcuffs daintily balanced on his forefinger and the women he’s currently using as a cushion aren’t big enough clues that ol’ Gerard is doing things his way this time, the sideways smirk and delicately wrinkled cheek muscles should do the trick.

Smugness meters across the country will be shattering in deafening unison next month as the posters for Playing For Keeps are rolled out across the nation’s cinemas. Butler’s complete self-satisfaction here cannot be contained simply by a facial expression — instead it must run over into his wardrobe, craggy beard and tousled mop of hair. No one element is failing to pull its weight in this unholy assemblage of purified smug.