Gerard Butler plays Presidential Guard and Secret Service agent Mike Banning in the action thriller "Olympus Has Fallen." After the president loses his wife to a car accident, Mike walks away from the job. 18 months pass and Mike is now on Presidential Detail with a desk job and misses his old life. As Mike trudges his way through another boring work day the White House is attacked by terrorists and a North Korean criminal mastermind now holds the President hostage. With the fate of the entire country at stake, Mike works with Speaker Trumbull (Morgan Freeman) and national security to not only save the President but also return the reigns of the country to whom they properly belong to.
Even early on, you can calculate the conclusions to certain key scenes in "Olympus Has Fallen." A bunch of cars driving in extremely snowy conditions can really only go a couple of ways. What's more surprising is that Ashley Judd shows up for so little screen time. You pretty much know how the movie will end going in, as well. America isn't about to let terrorism win in anything; not even movies. But there's still a little bit of something there to be offered even to the most cynical individual.
Gerard Butler's Mike Banning is pretty smart-mouthed and isn't afraid to be blunt. He pretty much follows in the footsteps of John McClane. Every fight scene he has is really raw and massively bloody. The entire White House takeover sequence contains the majority of the mayhem in the film and it doesn't disappoint in that aspect. Bullets fly, cars erupt in a ball of flame, windows explode, and a lot of innocent people die. The destruction and carnage isn't the issue. It's how familiar and borrowed everything else feels.
The cast is certainly remarkable on paper, so maybe that's one of the reasons the film leaves a sour taste in your mouth for not being as solid as it should be. Aaron Eckhart portrays a kidnapped President Benjamin Asher, Dylan McDermott slides into the smarmy shoes of Dave Forbes with ease, Melissa Leo as the tenacious Secretary of Defense Ruth McMillan, Cole Hauser as fellow Secret Service agent Roma, and Radha Mitchell as Mike's wife Leah who's also a nurse. Most of these actors, aside from maybe Butler, Eckhart, and Freeman, are grossly underutilized and feel like they're wasted, but then again "Olympus Has Fallen" is basically nothing but wasted potential.
One of the only unique concepts in the film is its ridiculous use of the Pledge of Allegiance. The scene it’s used in is so absurdly funny that it’ll probably come to mind every time somebody brings it up. Mike dodging and outrunning a crashing helicopter is something straight out of one of “The Expendables” films. The terrorist’s end game plan would make for a more interesting concept than what was used in “Olympus Has Fallen” if something like “The Twilight Zone” got a hold of it and the story took place after this particular plan was executed. Seeing writers and directors attempt to pick up the pieces of something of that magnitude isn’t exactly groundbreaking, but it at least it isn’t as much of a tiresome idea as the United States being taken over by terrorists.
Imagine grounding "Air Force One" and scaling it back to The White House, giving it the story of "Die Hard" with the laughable characters and ridiculous screenplay of the "Red Dawn" remake and sprinkling it with bits of "Law Abiding Citizen" and you get "Olympus Has Fallen." Take away its swift kicks, severe stabbings, big explosions, and gory headshots and "Olympus Has Fallen" is just another cookie cutter action film with stale writing.
"Olympus Has Fallen" hits theaters this Friday, March 22.