Other Articles in this Category
MOVIE REVIEW: Too few thrills, too many kills in gamelike ‘Olympus'
Cast: Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Angela Bassett, Melissa Leo, Rick Yune, Morgan Freeman, Radha Mitchell
Director: Antoine Fuqua
Running time: 1 hour, 53 minutes
Rated: R for strong violence and language throughout
For those who thought the last Bruce Willis movie was a little light on the casualty list, “Olympus Has Fallen” arrives toting the biggest body count since “Die Hard II.”
Bystanders and tourists, soldiers, cops and Secret Service agents fall by the score in a movie about the unthinkable — a terrorist ground assault on Washington, D.C. (Hollywood is providing two such “unthinkable” assaults this year, with “White House Down” due out this summer.)
This is “Die Hard in the White House,” with Gerard Butler manfully manning up as Mike Banning, the lone Secret Service agent survivor after terrorists take over the White House and seize the president and most of the Cabinet.
Not without a fight, of course. This president (Aaron Eckhart) boxes. And wait’ll you see the presidential head-butt.
Banning is a former White House detail member, on the outs because of a life-or-death decision he made months before. When the gunship sweeps over D.C., when ordinary Asian tourists turn out to be terrorists, when innocent garbage trucks turn into tanks, Banning’s the man of the moment — dashing back inside his old stomping grounds, where a mastermind (Rick Yune of “Die Another Day” and “The Man with the Iron Fists”) tells the chairman of the Joint Chiefs (Robert Forster) and speaker of the House (Morgan Freeman), “I am the man in control of your White House.”
Banning is the only guy who can get to the fortified presidential bunker where the hostages are. He proceeds to stab, shoot and strangle his way through legions of terrorists, quipping in his updates as he shows off his trophies, by phone, to the rest of the government.
Butler is fine in this part, which demands little more of him than an ability to change magazines like he has done it before. Many times. But this isn’t John McClane, ordinary cop. Banning has “Special Forces” on his resume, which robs the picture of some of its suspense.
A good cast (Melissa Leo is a feisty secretary of defense) makes us care who lives and who dies.
Better thrillers make more of the whole shaky state of command in such calamities, stringing out the suspense and playing up the clock ticking down toward whatever doomsday awaits should our hero fail. Director Antoine Fuqua (“Shooter”) is plainly dealing with a script that shortchanges all that, and he’s not good enough to overcome it.
It’s hard to see “Olympus Has Fallen” as much more than another movie manifestation of a first-person shooter video game. We’ve become a head-shot nation, and our thrillers are the poorer for it.