Title: Olympus Has Fallen
Does It Have Any Redeeming Qualities Whatsoever? Let's just say I now have more respect for Ashley Judd than ever before.
Rating Using Random Objects Relevant to the Film: One Dennis Rodman out of five.
Brief Plot Synopsis: Terrorists occupy White House, are systematically wiped out by police officer John McCl...er, Secret Service agent Mike Banning.
Tagline: "We are never stronger than when we are tested."
Better Tagline: "Yippie Ki Yay, North Korea."
Not So Brief Plot Synopsis: Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) is the best he is at what he does, and what he does is Secret Servicing. He's also close friends with President Asher (Aaron Eckhart), the First Lady (Ashley Judd) and their young son Connor (Finley Jacobsen). That is, until an unfortunate tragedy forces Banning off Presidential detail. None of that matters, however, when terrorists led by Kang (Rick Yune) seize the White House. Now Banning is the only link between a captive Chief Executive and the acting President, Speaker of the House Alan Trumbull (Morgan Freeman), who's only now starting to realize the extent of the threat to the country.
"Critical" Analysis: When it comes to realism in movies, most of us (well, maybe not those snooty reviewers at The New Yorker and Cat Fancy) are willing to cut Hollywood some slack. This is especially true when it comes to things like sci-fi and fantasy, where suspension of disbelief isn't so much suggested as required.
When proposing so-called "plausible" scenarios, however, things get a little trickier. Real-life locations and organizations can be fudged somewhat if placed in the context of, say, an alien invasion or...an alien invasion. But if the audience is supposed to swallow a premise as frankly preposterous as a hostile takeover of the White House, the setup and execution should be at least somewhat grounded in the real world.
Which is all a long-winded way of saying Olympus Has Fallen is about as believable as the Book of Mormon, only not as hilarious.
It all hinges on Millennium Films' choice of villain. Seriously, folks, we need to come up with better antagonists than the North Koreans. Studios apparently assume we'll just think "China by proxy" and that will be good enough. This, because they're too chickenshit to actually offend the Chinese by making *them* the bad guys (it was easy during the Cold War, because the Soviets never released our movies). The thing is, nobody will ever buy those guys as arch-nemeses worthy of respect and/or fear because every time they start mouthing off about "all-out war" against the United States, this is what leaps to my mind.
And I'm not alone. That was the thing about the Russians, man: When they said, "We will bury you," they could actually bury us.
So Kang (don't blame me, I voted for Kodos) is actually an extremist and not an "official" rep of the DPRK. Fine. That still doesn't explain how he's capable of flying an unidentified C-130 half a mile from the White House without getting blown to atoms, or why supposedly well-trained Secret Service agents would stream out of a door en masse so a waiting .50 caliber machine gun could mow them down, or why Academy Award winners Morgan Freeman and Melissa Leo (as the Secretary of Defense) agreed to appear in this in the first place.
Olympus Has Fallen wants to be "Die Hard in the White House" so much I half-expected Alexander Godunov to pop up at the end. But slavish imitations only work if they can mimic the spirit of the original, and that isn't the case here. This is a movie we can't even charitably describe as "so bad it's good." Especially when it relegates the excellent Radha Mitchell to a fretting supporting role.
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