By Laurie Coker
Independence Day meets Die Hard (the first one) is how I describe Olympus has Fallen, a film about a group of Korean rebels who attack the White House and take all key figures captive. Starring Gerard Butler and Aaron Eckhart, Olympus has Fallen works far too hard to pull on the proverbial patriotic heartstrings and not hard enough on offering an interesting story. Still, director Antoine Fuqua’s film is not a total waste. Action, shoot-em-up film lovers might find enough to keep their interested and have them singing God Bless America! Personally, they lost me with the first outlandish explosion and the gobs and gobs of bloodletting.
Secret Service Agent Banning (Butler) spars with the president and they seem like old buddies when the film opens, but an auto accident in a blizzard and a snap decision that costs the first lady her life (Ashley Judd) her life separates the friends and has Banning riding a desk at the Treasury Department. But when rebels attack the White House, capture the president, the vice president and the speak of the house (Melissa Leo) and take them hostage in the place where they should be safest, Banning, who hears the first commotion from his office, is the only man who can save them – of course. The Secretary of State (Morgan Freeman) and a host of inept military folk scramble to figure out what to do, while Banning infiltrates the building, dodging bullets, crashing helicopters and more while the entire Secret Service, a throng of police and military men and countless civilians fall even children and a dog or two.
Butler is substantially serious as he suffers falls, attacks and takes out a plethora of henchmen, lead by Kang (Rick Yune) a sadistic, hate-filled man, who doesn’t even blink as he kills the VP and kicks the heck out of the Speaker of the House, who refuses the give up her portion of the code that would mean the death of America. Eckhart and Leo play their roles well, pushing patriotic defiance and holding strong. All the while the powers outside the White House stumble with decision making and generally botch it up. Actually, now that I think about it, I’m not sure why they are in the film at all – except the obvious big payday. Banning/Butler singlehandedly whoops butt and even takes names.
Besides the obvious asinine storyline, I cannot understand the need for Banning to stab knives into the top of people’s heads, cut someone from stem to stern with a knife to the belly or slam a bronze head of Lincoln into one man’s face repeatedly. Overkill? Don’t get me started (I’ll write about this later.) on the women who had three small children in this late evening movie where intense brutality was the order at every turn. Fuqua takes extreme to the extreme – extreme bloodiness, extreme absurdity, extreme action and extreme violence. Yes, OVERKILL on all fronts!
Ultimately, while attempting to push patriotism, the R-rated Olympus has Fallen fails to deliver. There is not under or overlying message here. Olympus has Fallen is nothing more than blood-sport, brutality, bloodletting and blatant and unnecessary bedlam. I thought Butler did fine, but find it ironic that a non-American plays the man to save America. I can’t imagine the price tag on this fiasco of a film – what a colossal waste of money. Regardless, I shan’t split hairs as I place a grade of D in my book.