The ‘what if?’ scenario of the White House getting attacked is nothing new in the film world, but director Antoine Fuqua’s ‘Olympus Has Fallen’ takes on the concept to deliver a mediocre action spectacle.
Former Secret Service agent Mike Banning, played by Gerard Butler, is demoted by President Asher, played by Aaron Eckhart, after failing to save the First Lady, played by Ashley Judd, from an accident while vacationing in Camp David.
Eighteen months later, tensions are high in the Korean Peninsula when Asher meets with South Korea’s Prime Minister, the President is taken hostage and the White House gets taken over by North Korean terrorist Kang Yoensak, played by Rick Yune. Banning sees the destruction and decides to matters into his own hand alongside the aid of Speaker of the House Allan Trumbull, played by Morgan Freeman, to rescue the President and take back the White House.
‘Olympus’ ends up with great performances, even if the film falls flat at times.
Gerard Butler takes on the everyman role giving a great performance with one-liners galore and pure intimidating faces his enemies. The character Banning seeks redemption and Butler plays to that strength as he struggles through keeping the White House protected.
Morgan Freeman’s serious straightforward man next to Butler’s no holds barred character is a great balance acting as his leader and a quick friend.
Rick Yune as the villian is just by merely commanding his goons to straight up executing those who cross him on camera.
The film surprisingly succeeds is treating the highly ridiculous nature of the plot with seriousness and ease. The best parts of the film in the tension and uncertainty coming out of the conference room with Trumbull, Lynne Jacobs ,played by Angela Basset, and Col. Clegg, played by Robert Forster, butting heads to see how to take on the task at hand.
The propaganda infused in the plot is blatantly clear with constant shots of past presidents, the American flag and having a reporter say a insensitive stereotypical comment made about Middle Easterners that has no relevance to the plot.
The action and effects which are not the film’s strong points dragging it down from being a great film.
Antione Fuqua, known for the film Training Day, films the action in a way that seems in the vien of ‘Die Hard’ and never adds a personal touch to the direction.
Only few moments in ‘Olympus’ build intensity and a sense of unease, but those moment come far and few between, with the haunting takedown of the White House being the main centerpiece that may make some in the audience begin to feel fear.
The effects of the film rely on the use of CGI making certain explosion and blood come across as looking unrealistic. Certain explosion seem out of a modern video game rather than an actual burst from a missile.
One bright spot effects wise is the destruction of the White House by a bomb that looks to have been done on an actual model of the White House rather than a computerized effect.
‘Olympus Has Fallen’ falls firmly on its own face while taking itself seriously with a great cast, but winds up being another run of the mill action thriller that most are familiar with. ‘Olympus Has Fallen’is now playing and rated R for strong violence and language throughout.