March 22, 2013 by Vinnie Leduc
Here we go again. Almost an annual rite now, Hollywood tends to offer moviegoers similar films around the same time. Last year, not only did we get Mirror Mirror (UGH!) a couple months before Snow White and the Huntsman, but we also had the three-way three-month animated spooktacular of ParaNorman versus Hotel Transylvania versus Frankenweenie. This year’s doppelgänger showdown is between Olympus Has Fallen and White House Down.
They’re both star-studded action movies involving a siege of the President’s home, but the latter is set for release three months from now and is armed with over double the budget of the former. With the ’90s-style Olympus Has Fallen being decent enough to be enjoyed as an entertaining popcorn flick and with White House Down already having piqued our interest and landing a spot on our list of honorable mentions for most anticipated movie of the year, we may ultimately have a decent double dose of D.C. destruction.
Remember Under Siege, Executive Decision, and Air Force One? How about True Lies, Face/Off, and Speed? Cliffhanger, The Rock, and Con Air? Of course you do. You and I can rattle off another dozen awesome action movies from the ’90s. Olympus Has Fallen belongs with them in soooo many ways. High-stakes shoot-’em-up against terrorists. Good headshots and bad one-liners. Explosive action and senseless violence. Unintentional humor and cheesy dialogue. Glorious “America! F@#$, Yeah!” moments. Even the dated CGI looks like it could be from the ’90s. It’s basically Die Hard at the White House, only A Good Day to Die Hard wishes it were Olympus Has Fallen.
Gerard Butler, who hasn’t been in a good movie for years despite starring in plenty, is a Secret Service agent in charge of protecting the First Lady, played by Golden Globe nominee Ashley Judd, and the President, played by Golden Globe nominee Aaron Eckhart, whose last action movie, Battle: Los Angeles, is an overall comparable ride if measured in booming gunfire. Butler eventually turns into a one-man army when, naturally, he becomes the country’s only hope. Also depending on him are Oscar winner Morgan Freeman, Oscar winner Melissa Leo, Oscar nominee Angela Bassett, and Oscar nominee Robert Forster. All that Globe and Oscar power, but you’ll get nothing new or exceptional from the entire cast.
Director Antoine Fuqua has had both hits and misses. Don’t expect Training Day obviously. Olympus Has Fallen is somewhere in Fuqua’s middle ground, closer to the better end. After a slam-bang first half, you might think the second half could’ve been better as a third or a quarter. You’ll probably see most of the action movie clichés coming, but Olympus Has Fallen is truly one of those shows where you turn your brain off, sit back, and enjoy the noise and bullet-riddled chaos. Olympus Has Fallen gets 3 out of 5 stars.