Release: Friday, March 22, 2013
Olympus Has Fallen….just short of being a pretty
incredible action flick.
Undercut by dumbed-down dialogue, unconvincing characters, and a thirst for blood which borders on the Mel Gibson-side of excessive, Antoine Fuqua’s latest feature seems interested in only one thing: making Gerard Butler look more of a man than he already does.
Ostensibly this is a film built around his character, Mike Banning — he finds himself caught in a deadly game of cat-and-mouse while trying to find and rescue President Asher (Aaron Eckhart) and avoid being gunned down like virtually every other member of the White House and the Secret Service. Somehow he has escaped a torrential downpour of bullets and explosive devices and now finds himself inside the White House, which has more or less been converted into the North Korean terrorist stronghold. With the terrorists, led by a particularly brutal psychopath named Kang (Rick Yune), in full control of the most secure building on Earth Butler is once again charged with…well, saving the world.
That’s awesome, Mr. Butler. That’s just awesome! I would be more jealous of you, but knowing that the fate of the United States (possibly the world) basically hinges on the result of a series of hand-to-hand combat scenes, my envy is curtailed by my impatience and inability to take it all as seriously as anyone on-screen.
But even these people don’t really seem to be grasping the severity of the implied scenario. Look to accomplished actors such as Morgan Freeman (who plays Speaker of the House/Acting President Allan Trumbell), Angela Bassett (Banning’s higher-up, the Secret Service Director), and Melissa Leo (Secretary of Defense) for some very basic reaction shots in response to lines uttered by others that seemed to have been lifted from a child’s storybook. The dialogue and the acting in many of the scenes following some serious physical violence and/or tension simply do not match whatever else is going on in this film, and that is extremely frustrating. Also, predictable.
The lowest common denominator in this film is the mindless action sequences. Clearly with a name like Gerard Butler attached, I’m an idiot for not sniffing this out before walking into the theater. We can all identify and appreciate what Butler has done in action movies before, and what he’s doing here. But these scenes are smattered with so much blood that the overt patriotism offered up by Fuqua’s tense direction really just boils down to one color on the American flag: red. How much the Koreans come in and kick our ass in the dramatic scene where they invade Washington D.C. airspace has to be one-upped with every moment Banner has a moment to breathe and collect his thoughts. His treatment of the Korean invaders is justifiable to some degree, but then the movie crosses a line. The brains splattering everywhere in one particularly bloody fight goes a bit beyond that line. Again, predictable, given what Butler has done in the past.
I get that a film has one purpose — above all of its other purported intentions — to entertain. I understand this. Why do we have to feel like we’re being condescended to while watching the White House come under attack, though? Why does the director feel the need to pander to the dumbest of audience members? I’m sounding snooty while saying all of this, but I feel like I’m not at the same time. This is one case in a million of a movie sending the wrong message: ‘Let’s come up with some really f**ked up scenario, and then make light of it.’ Ultimately this is the ambition of the director of Training Day.
Recommendation: Far from the most original or clever action movie ever put to celluloid and then some, Olympus Has Fallen plays to the audience who have absolutely no standards to be met at all. Pure popcorn poop.
Running Time: 119 mins.
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