Movie Review: Olympus Has Fallen

Far-Fetched Action in Olympus Has Fallen [Movie Review]

By Mark HadleyWednesday 17 Apr 2013

Rating: M
Distributor: Warner Bros
Release Date: April 18

Olympus Has Fallen is a fairly typical shoot-‘em-up in which the White House is devastated and hundreds are killed in an orgy of violence. But I can assure you that, long before the first trigger was pulled, the first casualty was the script.

Gerard Butler plays Secret Service agent Mike Banning, a presidential guardian who falls from favour when he fails to save the life of the First Lady in an automobile accident. He’s relegated to a desk job across the road from the White House despite his formidable skills and his love for the President’s family. However when a murderous cadre of North Korean dissidents seize control of the White House and capture the Commander In Chief, Banning finds himself the only agent alive and inside the oval office. Deep underground in the president’s personal bunker the villainous leader of these communist fanatics is demanding the withdrawal of US troops and executing members of the US cabinet to make his point. But is a free North Korea really what he’s after? Banning enters a race against time to rescue his boss and save his son before the bad guys bring about a nuclear catastrophe.

Honestly, I’m not sure what’s more disappointing – the fact that this plot is almost entirely lifted from the 1988 film Die Hard, or that the producers did such a bad job ripping off the script. One man, stuck in a heavily fortified building, caught between authorities who don’t trust him and terrorists who want him dead, with the life of a loved one in the balance – very familiar, indeed!

Unfortunately Olympus Has Fallen is just too nonsensical to keep the tension. A heavily armed military aircraft penetrates US airspace, getting as far as Washington before it’s challenged? A busload of terrorists masquerade as tourists, their carry-on luggage including heavy machine guns? Advanced American weaponry falling into the hands of rogue states without the US knowing?

OK, well that last one might be true…But it wasn’t just the plot twists that set the audience I was sitting with laughing. Olympus Has Fallen includes some of the worst dialogue to grace any action film since Arnold Schwarzenegger first walked on to a set. Angela Bassett plays Secret Service Director Lynne Jacobs and is charged with stating the obvious for the entire two hours. The president’s helicopter might have just gone up in flames but we just in case you don’t get the implication, Jacobs is there so say, “The president – is dead!” And all I can say for Morgan Freeman as the Speaker of the House and the reluctant leader of the free world is that he must have been well paid to portray such an uninspiring character.

Is there anything to be salvaged from this film? It’s often senselessly violent, relies on the most ridiculous rationales, and is almost xenophobic in the way it perpetuates the ‘Evil Asian’ stereotype. Morgan Freeman does manage to say in his address to a shell-shocked American people,“As a nation we’re never stronger than when we’re tested. God bless you all, and God bless the United States of America!”- which reminded me that the only reason God even allows painful ‘testing’ is so that it might bless us by making us stronger in Him. But it’s a small offering and not much justification for the ticket price. Wait till it comes out on DVD, then choose something else to watch.

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