12 Awesome Performances That Saved Underwhelming Films

Thank goodness for them.

Alien Covenant David Michael Fassbender

Given how many moving parts are involved in making films, the thought that one person could save an entire movie is bizarre, but it's surprising how often it turns out to be true. For better or for worse, whether a movie smashes the box office or completely bombs will often ride largely on the performers in front of the camera, rather than on those behind it.

After all, just look at how many average films featuring great acting appear at the Oscars every year. In some cases, they actually stand out more for their excellence precisely because of the poor surroundings, but more impressively, a good performance can lift mediocre material out of the gutter.

So, in these following cases, we have a group of lackluster films that, against the odds, are actually watchable thanks to the efforts of just a single actor. Somewhere out there are a whole group of filmmakers and writers who let the side down but who owe huge thanks to their leading men and ladies.

12. Gerard Butler - Den Of Thieves

Alien Covenant David Michael Fassbender

From its trailer with an awesome Kendrick Lamar soundtrack, Den of Thieves looked like a generic but enjoyable action thriller. The initial perception was only half true. The film is generic, but it's also not very enjoyable. It's soulless, overlong and, until the action finally kicks off in the last third, pretty dull.

However, the film is kept watchable by Gerard Butler who plays the crooked cop trying to catch the thieves with a wonderfully bad-ass demeanor, while also showing pathos from time to time. He's easily the most interesting character in the movie - as well as the only one who feels like a character and not a prop - and he gives the film its much-needed emotional depth. Luckily, Butler's ability to do an American accent seems to have improved as well.

It's a shame that Gerard Butler is stuck in the Hollywood dog-house, because although he makes mostly terrible films he's actually not bad at all. Den of Thieves is a reminder that he's better than everyone thinks he is, and he brings the same mixture of macho masculinity and humanism that he performed with Leonidas in 300.

Thanks to Gerard Butler, Den of Thieves manages to stay just above a two-star rating.


Film Studies graduate, aspiring screenwriter and all-around nerd who, despite being a pretentious cinephile who loves art-house movies, also loves modern blockbusters and would rather watch superhero movies than classic Hollywood films. Once met Tommy Wiseau.