Olympus Has Fallen (2013) Directed by Antoine Fuqua. With Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Morgan Freeman, Angela Bassett, Rick Yune, Finley Jacobsen, Melissa Leo, Dylan McDermott, Robert Forster and Radha Mitchell.
As complete trash of the highest order, I’m slightly uncomfortable with how much I allowed myself to enjoy Olympus Has Fallen. Directed by Antoine Fuqua, the film plays like a mash-up of ‘Die Hard’ meets ‘24‘, with Gerard Butler channelling equal parts John McClane and Jack Bauer in his bid to save all of America from North Korean terrorists.
Unlike the controversial film, ‘The Interview‘, you can imagine the first 40-odd-mins of Olympus Has Fallen being screened by the North Korean regime as a self-contained piece within itself, as a brutal guerilla attack on The White House is depicted with all the over-inflated spectacle a $70m budget will allow. Despite a constant air of stupidity, the attack is impressively staged, earning itself a ’15’ certificate rating for its trigger-happy brutality against secret service employees of the most famous address in the world.
It is perhaps surprising to discover just how far Antoine Fuque takes the levels of violence in a film that you imagine would be endeavouring to achieve that all-important, bums-on-seats PG-13 rating. Indeed, there is one scene involving a prolonged physical attack on a woman that seems to belong in another film.
As the ‘Mr President’ of the piece, Aaron Eckhart gives a serviceable, if not unremarkable performance. In the lead role, however, Gerard Butler is a good fit. There is an accessibility about him. He’s a tough guy; fully adept at the action stuff, but he looks like he’d give you a warm hug if you needed one. His friendly demeanour allows the audience to root for him, which serves the overall purpose of the film well, especially considering its frequent tendency towards being rubbish. It’s all so cringe-inducingly po-faced too. A bullet riddled shot of the US flag falling to the White House lawn, accompanied by a lone trumpet smarts a little. So too, do the stereotypical characterisations of key government and military personnel played by the likes of Robert Forster, Angela Bassett and yes, you guessed it – Morgan Freeman. It’s like they know we’ve seen all this shit before, but they’re going to give it to us again anyway.
There came a time in the world when the collective ‘they‘ decided we were ready to have 9/11 served back up to us a popcorn entertainment. There is something inescapably uncomfortable about that. Olympus Has Fallen takes the ingredients of that day and throws a hero into the mix to save it. In the end, there are two ways to watch it. You can either see it as a crass insult to your intelligence, or you can forget that it’s treating you like an idiot and enjoy the quick sugar fix thats its overblown ridiculousness provides. 3/5