300 feels more like an allusion now than anything else in the career of Gerard Butler. When that film came out there was a feeling that he was destined to do big things in his career. It was a big break and there was a feeling in the air that the actor had more in him than just being a generic leading man and occasional character actor. It felt like this was a coming out party for the next great leading man as opposed to what’s looking like a high water mark from the vantage point of several years later.
That generic leading man/occasional character actor seems to be his career right now as Chasing Mavericks is yet another bland film with a fairly innocuous performance from the man who once played one of history’s greatest warriors. As such he gives a fairly solid performance in an otherwise forgettable biopic about a big wave surfer who died young.
Mavericks follows the tale of Jay Moriarty (Jonny Weston), a teenager with a drunken single mother (Elizabeth Shue) and a dream of surfing big waves. When he discovers “maverick” waves, and the man named Frosty (Butler) who guards them from outsiders, he has a compelling urge to want to surf them. Thus the great challenge that would define Jay’s life: surf the mavericks and find what’s missing in his life.
This is your typical underdog tale about someone training to overcome something. In this case Jay is training to overcome Mother Nature and its punishing nature with the massive waves he’ll be surfing. Frosty is the mentor character and his job is to help Jay become physically mature enough to handle waves like the ones he wants to surf.
It’s a fairly standard biopic that fails because of one main reason: its lead actor may resemble Jay uncannily but he’s not a good actor at this stretch. He has presence and charisma, Weston does, but his acting skills aren’t good enough to carry a film like this. Butler has a limited role despite his heavy advertising for the film as its most noteworthy star and he’s about as good as he can be. It’s not a well developed part as the film mainly cribs his part in the film from other films as well as the usual suspect clichés about the mentor role. This is pretty standard fare for Butler, who doesn’t quite mail it in but doesn’t give an inspired performance either.
The Blu-ray comes with a handful of deleted scenes, a commentary track and a few semi-interesting featurettes about the film.
20th Century Fox presents Chasing Mavericks. Directed by Curtis Hanson and Michael Apted. Written by Kario Salem and Brandon Hooper. Starring Johnny Weston, Gerard Butler. Running time: 117 minutes. Rated PG. Released: February 26, 2013. Available at Amazon.com.
Tags: Chasing Mavericks, elisabeth shue, Gerard Butler, just seen it