A Few Too Many Moth Holes
Neil Randall (Gerard Butler - 300) has it all; a beautiful wife, a lovely daughter, a nice home and a good job where his go-getter attitude means he is on the fast track to the top much to his colleagues annoyance. But that is all put on the line when driving his wife Abby (Maria Bello - Flicka) to her sisters as Tom Ryan (Pierce Brosnan - Seraphim Falls) sits up in the back seat of their car and tells them that he has kidnapped their daughter and they have to do what he says. Appearing to be toying with them whilst also making it very clear he isn't messing Neil finds everything he cherishes being ripped from him. The question is why?
For some reason "Butterfly on a Wheel", also known as "Shattered" in the States, didn't get much of a theatrical run which considering the cast of Pierce Brosnan, Gerard Butler and Maria Bello is a bit of a surprise. It is also a surprise because frankly as ransom movies go, as that is what it is, "Butterfly on a Wheel" is on par with many other recent attempts. The trouble is that whilst on a par it doesn't make it special especially when this is a movie about a twist, about a why rather than a what and that why is quite easy to predict which if you guess makes it a bit of a procession to the end.
In a way "Butterfly on a Wheel" is its own worse enemy because whilst we have this kidnap storylinewhere Tom forces Neil and Abby to do what he says the real interest is why he is doing this. Now there are some less than subtle clues throughout the movie which immediately leads you to guess why and it is hard not to have worked it out before the big twist presents itself. That means for basically 90% of the movie we have the routine element of Tom toying with Neil and Abby, forcing them to complete a variety of tasks from delivering parcels to buying him an expensive meal. It is all quite familiar and never really delivers the excitement and tension that is needed to make it feel like a desperate situation. In truth the most exciting scene is a car park car crash scene because the crash was real with both Gerard Butler and Pierce Brosnan reacting to crashing a vehicle. What that really means is that for the first 80 minutes "Butterfly on a Wheel" feels like a procession through the familiar with little to make it feel different to any other kidnap movie.
Because "Butterfly on a Wheel" feels routine the actual performances also feel routine and to be honest the characters are surprisingly thin. Pierce Brosnan as Tom Ryan whilst delivering an element of menace comes across as a cliche as does Gerard Butler as Neil and to be honest Maria Bello as Abby has little to do for most of the movie. It again adds to that element of being processional as if we had seen it all before.
What this all boils down to is that "Butterfly on a Wheel" is really little more than a routine kidnap movie with its success relying on a single twist which unfortunately is not only sign posted but is actually cliche. Whilst it lacks in tension and atmosphere it is not terrible just not overly memorable.