Posts tagged Die Hard
Once again, the White House is under attack for its foreign policies, but this time, it’s not merely disgruntled protesters swarming its gates. In Antoine Fuqua’s action flick “Olympus Has Fallen,” violent terrorists swiftly seize control of The Oval Office in order to stage a large-scale attack on the United States. This heinous act is hinted in the film’s title; a military code phrase confirming the catastrophic news.
Like all great movies in this genre, the country’s fate rests in the hands of one tough sonuvabitch on the inside, who happens to be there at just the right time. Basically it’s “Die Hard while Under Siege at the White House,” which is actually a good thing. “Olympus Has Fallen” borrows from the best parts of both films, while even managing to slightly improve upon their respective formulas.
Our hero Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) is a secret service agent who gets reassigned after he makes a tough call in the line of duty. A year and a half later in his boring desk job at the U.S. Treasury, Mike still can’t take his mind off what happened, so when Washington D.C. falls under attack, he seizes the chance to help protect the White House. Where the movie goes from there is pretty predictable: gunfights, giant explosions, humorous banter, and the threat of nuclear missile strikes.
Like “Die Hard,” this film has amusing verbal sparring between the hero and the villain. Sadly, however there aren’t really any iconic lines like John McClane’s famous catchphrase. There are higher stakes for Mike than for John though. Instead of just trying to survive and to stop some robbers, Mike has to evade the enemy, rescue the President, and prevent a nuclear holocaust. Talk about a busy day!
Throughout the movie, Fuqua cuts back and forth to a government situation room led by de facto President Trumbull (Morgan Freeman), who is in communication with Mike on the inside. In this way it’s very reminiscent of “Under Siege,” except “Olympus Has Fallen” has a much better protagonist. Steven Seagal’s character Casey Ryback in “Under Siege” is a cocky smartass who’s really just helping because he happens to be around, not because he’s a true patriot. Mike Banning on the other hand is a truly amiable guy you can root for, who bleeds red white and blue. Part of Mike’s likability comes from his genuine attachment to the President and his son, and the other piece is Gerard Butler’s well-rounded, nice-guy performance.
Speaking of performances, Aaron Eckhart’s is kind of weak as the cowardly President Asher, but there are fun supporting players like Freeman, Melissa Leo, Angela Bassett, and Dylan McDermott who liven things up. Freeman, especially, is given n some fantastic opportunities to shine, like when he brilliantly dresses down an army general for getting in his face.
As you would expect in any big budget action movie, there are moments which really stretch your suspension of disbelief, including some that are downright ridiculous. These instances are brought into even sharper relief by the film’s awful CGI effects that look like they belong in a last generation video game. Another spot this picture falters is with its development of the villain’s motives. The bad guys are sufficiently evil, mean mofos who you feel no sympathy toward, but you don’t quite get the chance to understand why the leader chose this plan. His background is touched upon briefly in conversation, which just feels too thin.
Despite these shortcomings, “Olympus Has Fallen” is an entertaining action vehicle that’s exploding with patriotism and non-stop excitement. It may be based on a well-established formula, however the movie handles it well. It’s certainly better at being “Die Hard,” than John McClane’s most recent outing.
Hello readers! Hope everyone had a Happy Valentine’s Day. My “Weekend Movie Preview” column this week features reviews of the Bruce Willis action flick “A Good Day to Die Hard,” and the young-adult romance “Beautiful Creatures.”
Click here to read my thoughts on both movies.