Have you ever wondered what it would be like if “Air Force One” and “Die Hard” had a love child together? Probably not, but with “Olympus Has Fallen,” no one ever has to.
After the First Lady (Ashley Judd) is killed in a car accident, Secret Service agent Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) quits his security detail for an easier job in the Treasury department. Banning must return to action, though, when a terrorist group takes over the White House and holds the president (Aaron Eckhart) hostage.
Upon seeing the trailer for “Olympus Has Fallen,” you know exactly what kind of movie it is: a tornado of bullets, explosions and patriotic tough-guy lines. You only hope that there isn’t anything too outlandish to spoil a fun 2 hours (more on that later).
The North Koreans continue their current reign of trying to replace the Cold War Russians by attacking the White House with suicide bombers, delivery trucks-turned-turrets and a giant (presumably stolen) US military plane. While it all seems fairly well thought out at the time, the plan really only makes “movie sense.” Practicality aside, the first stage of the attack on our nation’s capital feels a little distasteful with innocent tourists and DC residents being mowed down by heavy machine guns and falling monuments. If director Antoine Fuqua was aiming for a sick feeling in the audience’s stomach (like the sniper sequence in last year’s “Jack Reacher”), he probably should have made it look less like a standard action sequence.
Once the terrorists are in control of the White House, the film really just turns into “Die Hard,” as Butler’s “I Want to Be John McClane” Banning gets trapped inside after the intitial attack. Armed with his military experience and a bluetooth connection to acting-president Martin Trumbull (Morgan Freeman), the former Service agent attempts to take down the enemy one combatant at a time. Unfortunately, Kang (Rick Yune) and his fellow terrorists are nowhere near as interesting as Hans, Karl and the rest of the Nakatomi Plaza crew. Then again, this is a genre that all too often thinks more about ways to dispatch villains than develop them as characters.
Though the film does borrow heavily from “Die Hard” and other staples of the action genre, there are a few good moments here and there that are both original and noteworthy. First, there really aren’t THAT many movies out there that show life inside the White House and Secret Service, so every scene related to that life (whether exaggerated or not) is interesting. Second, Gerard Butler, who finally sheds his Scottish accent for a role, pulls off a few good wisecracks and is as competent an action actor as ever.
Expectations should always be taken into account when watching a film for the first time. Like I said before, after watching the trailer for “Olympus Has Fallen” (or even looking at the poster), you should have a general idea of whether it’s your kind of movie or not. The plot holes and inaccuracies are easy to spot, but there’s also a lot of fun to be had watching the country’s enemies getting taken out with Hollywood precision.