The United States of America is a very patriotic country, but for some odd reason, in film - we love to see the White House destroyed. Movie patrons flocked to theaters back in 1996 for the classic White House destruction scene in Independence Day. This year we will have three different movies take aim at the commander and chief's home; G.I. Joe: Retaliation, White House Down and this week's new release Olympus Has Fallen. All of these movies try to take over the most famous home in America.
Olympus Has Fallen stars Gerard Butler as Treasury Officer Mike Banning, a former Secret Service member for the current President (Aaron Eckhart). Banning was removed from the President's detail after a tragic accident that left him guilt ridden. Banning is forced back into action when an all-out land and air assault on Washington D.C. and the White House occurs. Banning is the last man standing and the only hope to save the President from his captors in the White House.
Olympus Has Fallen is a throwback to the R-rated action thrillers from the early 90's that my dad used to sneak me into when I was a kid. Olympus Has Fallen is a wild ride of a movie that does not shy away from images of violence and carnage. Civilians, officers, soldiers and politicians are subjected to a barrage of bullets in the intense Washington D.C. attack sequence; so, if violence in film bothers you, I suggest you go see The Croods or Admission a few theatres down the hall. Olympus Has Fallen is the most violent movie I've seen in a long time when it comes to the body count on-screen.
Gerard Butler is great as the man at the center of all the action in Olympus Has Fallen. I loved seeing Butler bounce back in a role that was meant for him after he starred in what I thought was the worst movie of last year, Playing for Keeps. Butler's character, Mike Banning is basically channeling the John McClane character from Die Hard. He's one man against a small army who is invested in saving hostages and manages to make a few wisecracks along the way. As much as I enjoyed Butler's Banning, he will never be John McClane.
The rest of the cast is rounded out by the always solid Aaron Eckhart as President Asher. Asher spends most of his time as a hostage, but still gives an angry performance which we have become accustomed to with Eckhart. Melissa Leo is almost unrecognizable as the unbreakable Secretary of Defense, Ruth McMillan. Leo's supporting performance shows why she's still one of the most underrated actresses, even with an Oscar on her mantel. The only weak role is the Speaker of the House played by Morgan Freeman. This surprises me because Freeman is usually old-reliable, but with this role it seems to me he's just cashing a paycheck. I don't want to spoil too much when it comes to the cookie-cutter, generic villains but let's just say I think we have found our new set of bad guys to replace the standard Middle Easterners as our 1990's and 2000's, go-to global movie antagonists.
Olympus Has Fallen is fun, just don't try to compare it to something of the caliber of Zero Dark Thirty. It's a poor man's Die Hard mixed with In the Line of Fire and some cheesy Point Break popcorn action on the side. It is all the things a young male is craving for in an action-packed rescue thriller. Olympus Has Fallen isn't going to win any awards or be considered a groundbreaking piece of film work, but the film does keep your attention from start to finish. Even with a thin script, the non-stop action carries Olympus Has Fallen to score of 2 1/2 potatoes out of 4.
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