Between Olympus Has Fallen, The Last Stand, and GI Joe: Retaliation, 2013 seems to be the year Hollywood tries to prove that it’s not a godless hive of unpatriotic liberals by taking up the age-old chant; America (F*ck Yeah!). Whether or not you’re a fan of the good ol’ US of A, you’ve got to at least admit that our level of national self-obsession makes for an entertaining movie. It doesn’t really matter if that entertainment value comes from your shared enthusiasm for the country or from amusement in just how silly our frenzied patriotism can be, as long as we keep buying movie tickets the industry will keep us supplied with a steady drip of red, white and blue. In any case, like America the movies above make up for their lack of IQ level with a fun sense of self-worship and complete disregard for reality or common sense. Playing out like a mix between Air Force One and Die Hard, Olympus Has Fallen lacks quite a bit in terms of intelligent film making but between a long-awaited return to form for Gerard Butler and an ample amount of action-y goodness, it is still heads above many of the year’s other action offerings.
The Plot: 4/10
Disgraced former Presidential guard Mike Banning finds himself trapped inside the White house in the wake of a terrorist attack; using his inside knowledge, Banning works with national security to rescue the President from his kidnappers.
As far as the plot goes, you can probably already see what I mean when I say that the movie borrows a lot from movies like Air Force One and Die Hard. Honestly, this didn’t bother me so much as the pacing issues and logic fails further into the film. The first 20 minutes or so of the movie pass by very slowly, which is made all the more frustrating by the fact that the back-story of Banning’s failure to save the President’s wife really doesn’t end up going anywhere or even factoring very significantly into the movie in any way. The fact that the movie comes in at 2 hours (a bit long for an action movie) is further evidence that the editors could have easily cut quite a bit out to tighten things up.
As for the logical deficiencies, I can’t mention too much without spoiling some pretty significant bits but I will say that the secret protocol the terrorists are really trying to exploit would never have been put into place by any government with an ounce of common sense. I know that this is an action movie and questioning things like this seem to be off limits, but come on. There are plenty of great action movies that easily manage to keep a certain level of feasibility to their story lines.
The Writing: 4/10
Aside from some pretty fun one-liners courtesy of Gerard Butler’s character, the dialogue is weighed down by a deluge of cheese. President Asher lies at the heart of this, which made me even more nonplussed that the national security team running the show was so dedicated to saving him that they would sacrifice countless secret service agents, white house personnel and, oh yeah, the country of South Korea to protect him. This is why we have lines of succession people…
In any case, I’m not entirely sure if there was no effort expended in adding in good dialogue or if some writer just thinks that this is the way that real people talk. Honestly, either would make sense to me. I realize this probably won’t bother most of the people who go see this if they’re expecting a fun, generic action movie but if you’re expecting any sort of cleverness from the script you will be sorely disappointed.
The Acting: 5/10
The reason this is a 5/10 and not a 2? Three words; Morgan F*cking Freeman. To me, this just proves that even when the man seems bored as he’s reading out his lines, he’s still a better actor than half of the people on screen. The man doesn’t even need to act, all he needs to do is speak and people will fall in line with whatever he says. Once again, would it really have been the world if they had just let Eckhart die and have Morgan take over?
That being said, this is still Butler’s show and he handles it perfectly well. He’s no John McClane and every attempt to draw that comparison comes at the man’s expense, but if you compare it to his heaping pile of Rom-Com excrement his resume’s accumulated over the past few years he saves some face. Banning’s development is kept to a minimum, which allows Butler to focus all of his efforts on being a badass, no frills needed.
The Action: 8/10
Once the action finally gets going, it holds up to the promises of the ambitious premise. To take down “the most heavily protected building in the world”, you’d need an army and an army we are given. The movie shifts periodically between all out war between the terrorists and the secret service/national guard and the one-man wrecking machine of Banning, and each are fun to watch in their own way. I would have liked to see a bit more of a contribution by other members of the secret service though, Banning can’t be the only one who’s half-way decent at his job after all.
My only complaint here would be that the special effects are really pretty laughable by modern standards. It’s obvious the movie put the bare minimum forward in terms of its effects budget, and in scenes like the collapse of the Washington Monument this is impossible to ignore. That being said, the fact that the movie is doing so well at the box office despite its comparatively low budget show that sub-par effects aren’t a deal breaker for audiences.
The Verdict: 6.0/10 – Passable
+ Butler is finally back in the kind of role he belongs in
+ The action takes a bit of time to get going, but once it does it rarely lets up
- Plot holes and implausibilities galore
- The dialogue works in one liners but is otherwise far too cheesy
Rotten Tomatoes: 43%
Keith and the Movies: 4/5
Devils Advocates: 4/5
Cinematic Katzenjammer: 7.3/10
Dan the Man Movies Reviews: 6.5/10
KCG Reviews: 3/5
The Code is Zeek: 3/5