Sunday, March 31, 2013

Olympus Has Fallen

Year: 2013
Director: Antoine Fuqua
Cast: Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Morgan Freeman, Angela Bassett, Rick Yune, Dylan McDermott, Robert Forster, Melissa Leo

Plot: When North Korean terrorists attack the White House and take the President hostage, it's up to disgraced Secret Service agent Mike Banning to stop them.

Review: Olympus Has Fallen is reminiscent of Wolfgang Petersen's Air Force One, or the seventh season of 24 where Jack Bauer had to rescue the President from terrorists. It's not an original idea, but still a novel one, and has tons of potential to be entertaining if executed properly. To director Antoine Fuqua's credit, he succeeds pretty much, even though it's not without flaws.

For an action film like this, the audience needs realism and violence to enjoy it, and Fuqua brings them both in spades. Within the first half hour, pandemonium already breaks loose and a high body count starts piling up. Then from this point, Fuqua balances the story between agent Banning's attempt to stop the terrorists and Speaker of the House Trumbull, who is now acting President, attempting to negotiate with Kang, the leader of the bad guys. This part of the film will feel familiar if you've seen Die Hard or Sudden Death, but it's still fun to watch.

Gerard Butler is finally back to what he does best after failing miserably at trying to be funny. He fits the lead role of Banning to a tee, a man who had failed to save the First Lady at the film's beginning, and now carries some unwanted baggage with him. Butler is truly custom made for action flicks, and it shows in the fight sequences. Aaron Eckhart is quite solid as the President, but he doesn't get to be Harrison Ford here though, it is Butler that does all the ass-kicking. Morgan Freeman plays the Speaker with the same calmness that is expected of him, though I can't help but feel that he could have done this in his sleep, and this role in this kind of film is slightly below his paygrade. Rick Yune makes a nasty villain as Kang (though I've seen nastier), and is at his worst when he beats poor Melissa Leo (as Secretary of Defense McMillan) in front of her boss. Leo deserves applause for selling that scene well.

As mentioned, the film has its flaws, as in unexplained loopholes. How did the terrorists get their hands on the heavy artillery they used to get through the front door? How did they know the White House's countermeasures? How did they know about the security systems in place pertaining to the nuclear defenses which they wanted to use against the U.S? None of these were explained. I also think Fuqua could have explored Banning's relationship with the President a bit more. He did so at the beginning, but kinda left it at that once the plot moved on. This would have given the story more weight.

The question now is, will this film be better than Roland Emmerich's White House Down which will open in June? Hard to say, but if you like 90s action flicks, you'd enjoy this for sure. (3.5/5)

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