Sep 2, 2013

[Movies] Olympus Has Fallen (2013)

This was one of those movies that we opted not to watch in theaters and ended up catching one slow afternoon at home. It's not one that we particularly wanted to see and just figured that it was worth a shot - plus there wasn't much else going on.

Olympus Has Fallen is an action-thriller movie that seems to have the sensibilities of a disaster movie. I say this given how the character development ended up feeling rather poor and thus the explosions, deaths and explosions just felt rather hollow. Hence the summer blockbuster feeling as opposed to the true political action thriller.

And it's a shame given the interesting array of talent assembled for this movie. We do have the combination of Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckart and Morgan Freeman in a single movie. That's saying something. But just having big name stars together doesn't make a movie a sure-fire success. Nor does it help the movie get past its narrative shortcomings. And this movie certainly suffered from that.


Synopsis: Olympus Has Fallen is a 2013 action thriller directed by Antoine Fuqua with a screenplay by Creighton Rothenberger and Katrin Benedikt. Gerard Butler also produced the movie together with Alan Siegel and Mark Gill.

We start with Mike Banning (Gerard Butler), a former US Army Ranger who is now the lead Secret Service agent guarding the President (Aaron Eckart). But this time he's very close with the President and his family and they trust him with their lives. However a drive during the winter takes a turn for the worst the President's car skidding almost completely over the edge of a bridge. They manage to get the President out of the car but not without allowing his wife to fall to her death.

More than a year later we find Banning is no longer in the Secret Service. At the same time the President is meeting with the South Korean Prime Minister when a cargo plane enters White House airspace and makes several attack runs on the White House. And while they eventually manage to deal with the plane, this only a part of a larger attack plan that involves additional ground forces and such. Eventually, the White House forces are overwhelmed and the President has been taken hostage. Banning happens to be in the area at the time of the attack and is perhaps one of the few individuals who can do something to save the President.

The movie tries to be smart at first with "televised" news discussion about raised tension with the North Korean situation and increased aggression in the region. We all know that it's meant to echo recent news along similar lines in order to make the movie somehow feel more "real". However the end result is more along the lines of fluffy plot requirements in order to give the movie a bit more direction, or at least given the movie its adversary.

Despite the initial political hullabaloo, the movie degenerates into Gerard Butler against the world. And while I do agree that it's probably easy to overwhelm the White House the way they mapped it out in the movie, I don't think that casualty could would have been so complete to leave Butler on his own. And then despite how these forces were able to kill everyone else, they are unable to even find Gerard until the very last moment. Of course by then it's too late.

It really didn't help things along that the President was such a hollow character despite being played by Aaron Eckart, who is a rather decent actor. Thus his scenes as the hostage don't seem all that relevant to the overall story apart from him being the potential subject for torture - physical or otherwise. And while he's not the lead character, you sort of expect the supposed President of the United States to have a bit more on-screen presence and impact when it counts.

The movie does have some good action and the whole plan to take out the White House was rather brilliant. The enemy's master plan was a little weird and more on the convoluted side of tricky, but in the end it still worked out for the best I suppose. It just wasn't as clever as the writers thought it was.

Olympus Has Fallen is a popcorn movie, but nothing too amazing. You can ignore the supposed complex plot and how amazing the Koreans are supposed to be as potential adversaries. Thus the movie only gets 2 scenes of wanton destruction around the White House grounds out of a possible 5.


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