Forgive yourself if after 45 minutes into Olympus Has Fallen that you recognize it – at least a couple of times over.
It’s Die Hard with elements of Air Force One and it’s not particularly good filmmaking from Antoine Fuqua, who resorts to using over-the-top patriotic images and bombastic music to get across his point that the audience should care about what’s happening in his film.
It’s not good, but it’s certainly a guilty pleasure, however, in a Red Dawn circa 1984 kind of way. Audiences will enjoy it despite themselves.
The primary reason: they will suspend every iota of disbelief is the presence of Gerard Butler, the Scottish actor who can’t catch a break with a good movie not titled 300 despite the fact that his acting talents aren’t in question. His choices may be.
And Olympus isn’t exactly a great choice.
He stars as disgraced Secret Service agent Michael Banning, a man whose choice to save the president is rewarded with a one way trip to a desk job at the Treasury Department. That all changes one July 5th when a cargo plane, bearing U.S. Army markers, speeds through Washington D.C. airspace, in the process taking out two Air Force F-15s. Obviously, it’s no friendly and it begins the coordinated attack on the White House that eventually includes a small contingent of Asian terrorists.
Complicating things, the South Korean prime minister is at the White House seeking U.S. help to help with North Korean aggression.
Adding two and two, it doesn’t take long to figure out the coordinated attack has something to do with that. The president (Aaron Eckhart), key members of his cabinet and the South Korean prime minister and his staff flee the attack to the president’s impenetrable bunker, a place where he can still conduct the nation’s business. It’s there where things get really interesting.
Banning witnesses the assault in goes into full John McClane mode. As fellow agents fall down around him with bullets from high caliber weapons in them, he somehow escapes the carnage and becomes the fly in the ointment to Kang (Rick Yune), the Korean terrorist who holds the president, the White House and the potential to start a nuclear disaster.
Banning is the lone person standing in the way of complete disaster and has to navigate a psychopath, terrorists and political bureaucracy.
Fuqua’s gets one thing right. However, improbable it may be, the attack on the White House is the most emotionally gripping element in the film. Because it’s a direct assault it resonates with audiences. It’s personal.
Butler proves game in this exercise. He delivers the requisite one-liners, shows the necessary toughness and accumulates the body count required in a movie that will be enjoyed for its run in theaters and then soon forgotten.
Movie: Olympus Has Fallen
Director: Antoine Fuqua
Cast: Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Morgan Freeman, Angela Basset, Robert Forster
Rated: R (language, graphic violence, scenes of terror)
Running time: 120 minutes
George’s rating: 2.5-of-5 stars