Olympus Has Fallen Directed by: Antoine Fuqua Cast: Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Morgan Freeman, Rick Yune, Melissa Leo Running Time: 2 hrs Rating: R Release Date: March 22, 2013
PLOT: An ex-Secret Service agent (Butler) rushes into the White House after a terrorist attack on D.C. has the President (Eckhart) captive in his own bunker.
WHO'S IT FOR? Do you miss all-American action movies about the President being in danger? About the threat of nuclear terror on our own soil? You can take a break from your repeat viewings of Air Force One on tape, because here's Olympus Has Fallen.
EXPECTATIONS: I wasn't really sure what to do with this film, but I was excited that action movies were one again taking on its most fantastic concept of saving the President. Before going in, I was curious about Butler's presence - what could the bland actor offer to such a striking plot synopsis? And in regards to the film, one has to wonder, how far will this film take its depiction of terrorism? Are we ready to see such destruction?
Gerard Butler as Mike Banning: In past reviews, I'd say I've given Butler a fair amount of grief about being a bland actor, whether he's holding a gun or trying to be a romantic lead. However, possibly by miracle, this movie may be the one that shows him to be a good fit in action; he is quite functional as a typical action hero, fitting into the classic requirements of the genre. Give him a couple smart-ass lines, a neck-snapping or two, and you've got yourself an actor who can carry an action film no matter how generic his character is. Score: 6
Rest of Cast: For an action movie, this film features a decent amount of heavy hitters; they certainly add a bit more weight to dramatic scenes that feel otherwise disposable. Eckhart has got the testosterone (and the chin) to fitfully immediately embody a relatable image of a President (playing sympathetic mayor Harvey Dent in The Dark Knight certainly doesn't hurt his casting credibility here). Morgan Freeman functions best as as crowd-pleaser when he assumes presidential responsibilities. Rick Yune isn't so striking as the lead menace, his coldness mistaken for a lack of charisma. As a person who apparently wants to kill us all, Rick Thune leaves us wanting more. The film's biggest standout is Melissa Leo, who shows that she can still communicate pain even in a simple action movie, her beatdown in the film one of its most intense scenes. Score: 5
TALKING: While playing upon contemporary nerves, the dialogue in the film spoken by Eckhart's President echoes recent political sentiments; there's even one moment in which he says, "United States of America does not negotiate with terrorists." The film is reasonably behaved with the usage of these immediate references to real life, and it certainly enjoys anytime it can throw in good ol' action dialogue. For example, an actor is picked out specifically to be Guy Who Says Title of the Film, as he screams during the attack, "Olympus has fallen! Olympus has fallen!" Score: 4
SIGHTS: Though the film's scene of terrorism on Washington D.C. is a moment to behold, the urgency of it is lost by phony visual effects. Maybe this was an intentional choice in order to soften the blow of watching American monuments crumble to terrorism, or maybe its just the indication of a strict budget. Regardless, key visuals meant to disturb the viewer and sign them up for the preceding ass-kicking lose their believability due to a lack of strong detail (this alone makes me curious to see how Roland "2012" Emmerich will terrorize D.C. in his similar-looking terrorist movie White House Down). Score: 6
SOUNDS: The score is a continuous aesthetic aspect of this film. As it simply functions to fulfill dramatic cues, it lacks any type of personality. Most notably is the volume of the fired weaponry in the film, which is surprisingly quiet. For all of the head-shots and explosions in the movie, one would think this to be a blistering audio experience. Turns out, not so much. In that regard, this ain't A Good Day to Die Hard. Score: 5
BEST SCENE: The attack on Washington, D.C. however hokey it looks, is still something to behold. We haven't seen stuff like this in an action movie in years, or maybe ever.
ENDING: Confirming that you've just seen another Die Hard movie, this one even ends with the hero consoling his loved one near ambulances as the story concludes itself.
REWATCHABILITY: This movie may not be all that great, but like all decent action movies before it, it certainly would be a great find when it plays on cable TV in a couple years.
While the original scene of terrorism is a gripping moment of nutty violence (despite its cheap graphics), the rest of the film slacks on the promise of this grandiose plot, partially due to incohesive action sequence editing, and also a silly script. The film's third act especially underwhelms at pivotal moments, with Olympus Has Fallen struggling to wrap itself up creatively. Too easily does this movie side with being common over being surprising.
Nonetheless, the 90s action movie has returned with Olympus Has Fallen, a film based on post-9/11 security anxiety, but told by a time capsule script that would have fit into multiplexes perfectly twenty years ago. The film returns audiences to the action genre's grandest premise of protecting the President, and even throws in a contemporary factor of nuclear destruction. But while many grand genre pieces are in place, Olympus Has Fallen isn't sharp enough to follow through with its potential. It is a generic movie from a different era.
FINAL SCORE: 5/10