Olympus Has Fallen

On that day we received a grim reminder...
"When our flag falls our nation will rise."
Good morning boys and girls, it's the beginning of another thrilling week at The Tagline! (maybe it's actually night, I post these in the evening the day before so if that's so good evening you early readers you) In an effort to counteract my almost complete inability to go to the movies I have acquired a substantial stockpile of films to watch in the comfort of my own home. Some of these movies I think have at the very least the potential to entertain me. Some others I downloaded specifically because I think they will suck ass, and I know how amusing you all find it when I complain. The first one I decided to watch... was not very good, and I might talk about it later. Not now though, today I'm going to be talking about Olympus Has Fallen, released this past March, and featuring Gerard Butler as ex-Secret Service agent Mike Banning, who is trying to save the president (Aaron Eckhart, so Harvey Dent is the president in this movie) after a terrorist attack on the White House. I know what you are probably already thinking, "wow isn't THAT the most original plot to a movie ever!" Well no it isn't but bear with me here, it isn't as bad as you might think. After a car accident on a snowy death road results in the death of the first lady (Butler's character chooses to save the president but doesn't have time to get her out before the car falls off a cliff) Banning is removed from the presidential detail, relegated to a mundane desk job. During a meeting with the prime minister of South Korea, the White House is attacked, first by a gunship which initiates a terror attack on the streets around the White House, and then later by a ground assault, resulting in a considerable amount of death and destruction.

Secret Service agents being shot, or awesome hip-hop
dance number? You be the judge.
Eventually, as you might guess...Olympus falls... or whatever. The White House is piled high with dead people, and a North Korean terrorist group takes the president and basically his entire cabinet hostage, making the speaker of the house (that's Morgan Freeman) president. This is a job we know he can do, because as president he helped guide the nation through national disaster when a meteor hit the Earth in 1998 (this is a Deep Impact joke okay its funny and you should be laughing). The terrorists initially seem to be determined to force a U.S. withdrawal from South Korea, effectively handing the country over to the North Korean army. This proves to be only a part of the plan however, as the terrorist leader is also interested in wresting control of the Cerberus system, an emergency protocol that allows remote detonation of American nuclear weapons in case of a need to abort an attack at the last moment. The codes to this system are held by three different members of the president's cabinet, all unfortunately held captive within the bunker where the system can be activated. This is bad because the missiles can be detonated in their silos, leading to thermonuclear everyone-is-dead time. you could see how that is not desirable.

The murderous dad you wished you had.
As the sole remaining agent of the American government alive in the wake of the initial attack (having had the sense to not do things like stand on the front lawn of the White House in the wide open with no cover anywhere nearby) Banning sets about first alerting the speaker and his emergency council, and then to saving the president's young son, and then the president himself (securing the president's son is considered important because it keeps the terrorists from using him to coerce the Cerberus codes out of the president). What follows is a series of tense scenes involving stealth, hand to hand violence, and a liberal application of knives to people's insides (Banning was formerly an Army Ranger, letting us know that he is GREAT AT KILLING PEOPLE). Naturally there is also lots of gun violence, and a generous apportioning of fiery explosions. As a leading character, Butler's Mike Banning is a serious but likable individual, an efficient patriotic killing machine who still displays paternal qualities and instincts towards the president's son, who he had previously watched over during his tenure as a Secret Service agent. In other words, I'd expect that if you cut this guy, he would bleed stars and stripes all over you while furiously saluting an American flag. That's okay though, because like I said he's generally a likable character, and director Antoine Fuqua (maybe best known for directing Training Day) knows how to conduct a tense, well paced action movie. There is not a lot of deep thought going on while you watch, but it is entertaining.

Fact: to make the movie, the crew had to assemble and
explode the White House 200 times before they got the
shots to work out right.
I immediately drew a connection in my brain to the Die Hard movies of old, because structurally and thematically this movie is very similar. Olympus Has Fallen was released roughly a month after the most recent Die Hard movie, which I don't want to talk about because it was not very good and makes me sad. unlike that movie (I'm talking about a Good Day to Die Hard) Olympus Has Fallen maintains the tense atmosphere, cowboy attitude, and hard edge that made the first Die Hard a good movie. The more recent entries into the franchise (the last two, but especially the most recent one) have felt largely stale and sterilized, made less offensive for a general audience, which is really senseless given that it meant John McClane couldn't even say his trademark yippee kayea motherfucker, because swearwords are dirty or something, but exploding a bunch of people is cool I guess. In Olympus Has Fallen there's none of that. Banning tells some high ranking generals to basically fuck off while he does what he thinks needs to get done, and tells the terrorist leader he's going to stick his knife into his brain. That's what you like about this character: he isn't fucking around. I could've done with a little less flag waving, but you pretty much come to expect shit like that from movies like this, especially in the present era.

Olympus Has Fallen was the first of two movies released this year about attacks on the White House, the second being White House Down (released in late June) a movie with a much less cool name, and thus obviously an inferior piece of cinema (I honestly have no idea I haven't seen it yet, maybe I should grab that too so I can compare them). I guess you can expect this kind of thing when the political climate and attitude of the populace swings a certain way, and for whatever reason movies seem to enjoy travelling thematically two-by-two (like the way Deep Impact came out right around when Armageddon did speaking of). Having enjoyed it myself, I can endorse Olympus Has Fallen as a good choice if you enjoy action movies about play-by-their-own-rules agents fighting against the odds to save America from being blown up. If you don't like movies like that... well I'm frankly surprised you've tolerated my presence this long.

That's it for today! Join me again on Thursday, when I reach back into my bag of movies and pull out the next screen gem... or terrible nightmare film about people in glittering banana hammocks (no that couldn't possibly happen twice in the same year right?)

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Project Wonderful Ad