Quick – think of the most outrageous plot line that combines “Die Hard” action with nonsensical political thrills. Sounds pretty outrageous, right? Well, outrageous is one way to describe director Antoine Fuqua’s newest film “Olympus Has Fallen.” The “Training Day” director created a massive action-packed, CGI-fused thrill ride that also delivers a hefty amount of good ol’ fashioned patriotism.
So what’s the problem then? Fuqua has more than enough tricks up his sleeve: A sexy hero? Check. A relevant political plot line? Check. A star-studded, award-winning cast that includes Morgan Freeman, Melissa Leo and Angela Bassett? Check, check, check.
All these things aside, the actual script and story are too far-fetched to be fully appreciated.
The main plot follows everyone’s favorite Scottish import (Gerard Butler) as Mike Banning, the former Secret Service Agent to Aaron Eckhart’s President Asher. The two are close friends, until a tragic accident claims the life of the First Lady (Ashley Judd). Because of this, Banning transfers out of the service, but remains close enough to the White House to keep up on all the action. About 30 minutes into the film, the audience realizes that this is a very good thing.
Tension between North and South Korea becomes problematic. President Asher reaches out to the South Korean Prime Minister and invites him to discuss options to maintain the peace. However, this diplomatic meeting is interrupted by a rogue terrorist group that infiltrates the White House under the guise of the Prime Minister’s personnel. The President and his Cabinet are taken hostage and the remaining Secret Service in the building are quickly executed.
Implausible already, right?
Somehow, out of all the individuals with access to a gun, Mike Banning makes his way into the White House and quickly annihilates a good portion of the terrorists with just a small handgun and a measly knife. He now has the impossible task of rescuing both the President and his MIA son from certain death. His motivation to redeem himselfhelps propel him forward. On top of this, the terrorist leader Kang, (impeccably portrayed by Rick Yune) is prying nuclear launch codes out of the Cabinet members by killing them off one by one. Yune displays a remarkable amount of control in his performance, playing a chillingly calm psychopath without camp. If anything is done right in this film, it’s Yune’s performance.
Other notable actors include the always wonderful Morgan Freeman, whose character Allan Trumball is the Speaker of the House – therefore the acting president once the hostage crisis begins. Sadly, this role gives Freeman little to chew on since the tension follows Banning’s struggle. Melissa Leo is great as a spirited Secretary of Defense, but has some truly laughable lines that come across as phony. Angela Bassett plays the head of the Secret Service and seems to be the only one believe in Banning’s abilities.
Between the incredibly unlikely assault on 1600 Penn, and the often cringe-worthy script, “Olympus Has Fallen” is mediocre at best. However, Fuqua directed some interesting action sequences and the movie delivers a few thrills. Is it passable? Eh, about as passable as Gerard Butler’s American accent.
Speakeasy Rating: C-
Rated R for violent images, and action sequences.
Starring Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Morgan Freeman, Angela Bassett, Dylan McDermott and Melissa Leo.