Olympus Has Fallen, Antoine Fuqua’s latest film can easily be summed up as Die Hard, set in the White House. While this may sound like a perfect reason to go see it, trading the amazing set piece of Nakatomi Plaza and replacing it with an iconic American staple, the film lacks all of the charm, charisma and action that the famous 80’s movie has. Gerard Butler stars as Mike Banning, a former secret service agent, that gets demoted, after being involved in a major accident with President Asher (Arron Eckhart) and his wife, Margret (Ashley Judd). Two years later, he’s a desk jockey at the U.S. Treasury office, that sorely misses his former job. While he’s at work, he sees that terrorists attack the White House in broad daylight and manages to fight his way inside. It turns out that most of the presidential cabinet and members of the secret service have been kidnapped by a North Korean terrorist, by the name of Kang (Rick Yune), who wishes to obtain computer codes to blow up every nuclear warhead in America and turn it into atomic wasteland.
Full of American propaganda and hammy performances, Olympus Has Fallen is an extremely dumb movie, that I honestly had some fun with. While its certainly overstated, the Americana infused into the film was so blatant, that it got to the point where it was just fun to see where it popped up next. I mean, a man gets his head bashed in by a bronze bust of President Lincoln’s head and the only thing that I could think of in that moment was the theme song for Team America. Butler does do a pretty good job at leading the film, with some solid presence as the action star, but he’s no John McClane. The thing that boggles my mind the most is the cast that’s attached to Olympus, with such a terrible script by Creighton Rothenberger and Katrin Benedikt. With the likes of Morgan Freeman, Angela Bassett and Melissa Leo, the cast has a pretty solid track record to be in such a mindless film like this.
While I do like The Replacement Killers and Training Day, this kind of work is certainly typical for Antoine Fuqua. His films tend to be passable as mindless entertainment but certainly not good enough to stand the test of time. His ability to display action is pretty decent in Olympus, especially during the final battle sequence, but its nowhere near as compelling as it very well could be. One of the things that contributes to the mediocre action is the horrific CGI in the film, that looks like it would have been good, 20 years ago. From the initial attack on the White House, to the night attack on against the “Medusa” prototype, placed on top of the building, evert moment containing CGI is absolutely horrendous, especially knowing that this film has a budget of 80 million dollars.
Again, Olympus Has Fallen isn’t the best film, but knowing full well what it was, 30 minutes into the movie, I still had a fun time. From the ridiculous moments of the White House getting blown up, to the final frames of an American flag flowing in slow motion, Olympus Has Fallen can be rewarding, if you know full well what you’re getting into.