Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Review: "Olympus Has Fallen" is an Entertaining, Cheesy Action Movie

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 57 (of 2013) by Leroy Douresseaux

Olympus Has Fallen (2013)
Running time:  120 minutes (2 hours)
MPAA – R for strong violence and language throughout
DIRECTOR:  Antoine Fuqua
WRITERS:  Creighton Rothenberger and Katrin Benedikt
PRODUCERS:  Gerard Butler, Ed Cathell III, Antoine Fuqua, Mark Gill, Danny Lerner, and Alan Siegel
EDITOR:  John Refoua
COMPOSER:  Trevor Morris


Starring:  Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Morgan Freeman, Finley Jacobsen, Dylan McDermott, Rick Yune, Angela Bassett, Melissa Leo, Radha Mitchell, Cole Hauser, Phil Austin, Sean O’Bryan, Robert Forster, Lawrence O’Donnell, and Ashley Judd

While watching Morgan Freeman play an “Acting President of the United States” in Olympus Has Fallen, I remembered that he played the President during a disastrous time in another movie, Deep Impact, one of my very favorite films of all-time.  Olympus Has Fallen will not hold a place in my heart like Deep Impact, but it is, if nothing else, an entertaining and effective action movie.  Like me, you may very well feel the need to kick some enemy of the United States ass while watching it.

Olympus Has Fallen is a 2013 action thriller and semi-disaster movie from director Antoine Fuqua (Training Day, Tears of the Sun).  The film follows a disgraced, former Secret Service agent who finds himself trying to rescue the President after terrorists attack the White House.

Olympus Has Fallen opens on a snowy Christmas evening, when tragedy strikes.  Eighteen months later, Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) is a disgraced Secret Service agent working at the U.S. Treasury Department.  While pondering the state of his life, Banning witnesses a full-on invasion of the White House.  Now, Kang Yeonsak (Rick Yune), a terrorist mastermind, is holding President Benjamin Asher (Aaron Eckhart) hostage, and Kang’s demands, if met, will change the United States and the world forever.  Fate has given Banning a chance at redemption, but he may not have enough time to save the President or the world.

In some ways, Olympus Has Fallen is a throwback movie.  I can see Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, or Bruce Willis playing the lead in a movie just like Olympus Has Fallen from the mid-1980s to the early 1990s.  Lower the budget of such a movie, and your lead becomes Dolph Lundgren or Steven Seagal.  I can even imagine the voice over for an “old school” version of Olympus Has Fallen:

A pan-Asian devil has taken the White House,
The President – held hostage; the world in danger,
Now, only one man – one Caucasian man – can save the world
Bruce Willis-Stallone-Schwarzenegger, etc is Mike Banning in

Seriously, this is a slightly above-average, American-macho-done-up action movie.  Director Antoine Fuqua does his best low-rent Michael Bay.  Fuqua seems to borrow the loudest and most obnoxious stylistic elements of Bay’s The Rock and Armageddon to make Olympus Has Fallen.

Here, Gerard Butler is either being a really bad actor – a 21st century Dolph Lundgren – or he’s being tongue-in-cheek.  Even MAD Magazine couldn’t mock the action hero in a way that would surpass Butler’s caricature known as Mike Banning.  As a villain, Rick Yune is Butler’s over-the-top mirror image.  Yune’s Kang belongs in a Jean-Claude Van Damme straight-to-DVD movie, not in a big-budget feature.

The opposite of Butler and Yune is Morgan Freeman who plays Speaker of the House Allan Trumbull as extra-deadly serious.  Angela Bassett, as Lynne Jacobs, Director of the Secret Service, is sometimes over-the-top hysterical and frantic; it made me wonder if Bassett had forgotten that she was in an action movie and not a soap opera.

Still, Olympus Has Fallen is fun to watch, because it is as much a disaster movie as it is a shoot ‘em up about a lone wolf-type.  And the disaster part of it really appealed to me.

5 of 10

Monday, August 19, 2013

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