Review No. 574
“Olympus Has Fallen” and America has gone FUBAR. Mindless fun.
Director — Antoine Fuqua
Producers — Gerard Butler, Alan Siegel, Mark Gill
Screenplay — Creighton Rothenberger & Katrin Benedikt
Gerard Butler — Mike Banning
Aaron Eckhart — President Benjamin Asher
Morgan Freeman — Speaker Allan Trumbull
Angela Bassett — Lynne Jacobs
Robert Forster — US Army General Edward Clegg
Cole Hauser — Agent Roma
Finley Jacobsen — Connor Asher
Ashley Judd — Margaret Asher
Melissa Leo — Secretary of Defense Ruth McMillan
Dylan McDermott — Dave Forbes
Radha Mitchell — Leah Banning
Rick Yune — Kang Yeonsak
Distributor — FilmDistrict
Release Date — March 22, 2013
Language — English & Korean
Country — USA
Running Time — 2 hours
MPAA Rating — R
MPAA Description — strong violence and language throughout
OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN WAS WATCHED ON AUGUST 14, 2013.
As far as action movies go, Olympus Has Fallen falls (no pun intended) directly in between “Die Hard in the White House,” and “video game on autopilot.” I say that sincerely but cautiously. Gerard Butler is doing basically the same thing Bruce Willis did first twenty-five years ago, but his likeness in Secret Service agent Mike Banning sure ain’t John McClane-caliber. And it’s a lot more entertaining than sitting and watching people level up for two hours. It’s easier to just go with a cliché; I’d rather not mince words into something like “all balls, no brains,” simply because it’s never been as true as here. More often than not, things’ll happen that won’t happen outside The Land of Moviegoing…but they don’t exactly eliminate the fun of it all.
Technically, this isn’t a dystopian movie, but it sure feels like one. Dystopians are set in the future, which Olympus Has Fallen is not, despite its “alternate present-day” approach; and moreover, dystopians explore emaciated political structures. This isn’t an emaciated political structure–hell, I’m not sure there was a structure. It’s America gone FUBAR. South Koreans walking up the steps of the White House, armed with machine guns. Every man who has stepped outside the building is dead. President taken hostage. Vice President taken hostage. The White House is burning for the first time since 1812. It’s all over the news. And it’s up to one man to stop it all: Mike Banning. He’s a Secret Service agent, but he formerly served in the 75th Ranger Regiment, so you know he’s serious only until it’s time to kick ass. At least in an action movie, that’s how it works. Butler is far from perfect in the role, but it’s difficult not to wonder if he’s the same guy who plays in romantic comedies regularly. Again, this isn’t as great as Die Hard, but he does have a John McClane : “Let’s play a game of f##k off. You go first.” I’m just hoping that the sequels have this one-liner. That’s without saying anything more than that a sequel or twenty is inevitable.
If you wanted “Die Hard with a President,” then I’ll ask you to skip this one for Harrison Ford in Air Force One. This is simply “Die Hard in the White House,” or bits and pieces of it. The movie is rather unfocused, and Aaron Eckhart is the worst of it. As Mr. President, he’s rarely given his chance to deliver, and when he does, he doesn’t care. It’s basically South Korea and a few rogue Americans, versus him, and he’s relying on one Secret Service agent to save him. Please do try and keep count of the questions raised, but rest assured, not one question is within reason or power. On the other hand, Morgan Freeman gives a believable, not to mention powerhouse performance as the Speaker of the House-turned-Acting President. Though this man has played anyone and everyone, and he has yet to miss a beat. On more than one occasion, he’s played Alex Cross, Batman’s assistant, and God. Prior to this actioner, he played the President once: in 1998′s Deep Impact, which, for an entire decade, remained the highest-grossing film directed by a woman. Take that out and it’s a box office idol by any standards. By 2013, his return is practically a necessity, because Olympus Has Fallen is a movie made for money. And it makes the money from two hours of fun. Calculated and dumb fun, but fun nonetheless.