Review: Olympus Has Fallen

Filed under: Reviews

It's easy to tell what kind of movie you are walking into when it's full A-listers, multiple Academy Award winners/nominees, and practically zero promotion leading up to its release. If this is the first time you've heard of Olympus Has Fallen don't be shocked because you probably won't hear about this flick again till next year's Razzies. It's just flat out bad, and not even in a good ol' fashioned campy sort of way.

The story, and I use that term loosely, pits former Secret Service agent Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) on a one man mission to retake the White House and rescue the U.S. President (Aaron Eckhart) after it is over taken by a small, yet sizable, army of united Korean extremists. A poor Americanized version of James Bond, if you will. This farce of fiction would be mildly believable if Butler's character had some sort of super power or a backstory that extended past babysitting the U.S. President. Instead, the audience is subjected to every bad action movie cliché in the book and a couple extra for good measure.

Nothing in this movie is remotely plausible, not that it should be considering it is a movie after all. Yet director Antoine Fuqua (Training Day) trusts people will buy into every oversight in this absurd story for a mind-numbing two hours. Pretend for a second that moviegoers will somehow buy the full scale attack and breach of the White House. Audiences are then lead to believe Butler's character somehow still has all the Secret Service's access codes for the entire building after an 18-month absence from the service. Or the fact that the President's secure nuclear bunker has a sliding door failsafe feature so people can come and go as they please.

I was shaking my head in awe every time the movie shifted to the crisis situation room. Baffled by how high calibre actors like Morgan Freeman, Angela Bassett, and Robert Forester can all portray the absolutely stupidest government officials when they are negotiating with the lead terrorist Kang (played by Rick Yune), and with a straight face ignore the notion he has his finger on all the big red buttons. Yune, by the way, was a far more menacing on-screen villain when he had diamonds struck to his face (Die Another Day) or was racing neon street cars in L.A. (The Fast and the Furious).

It's all the other many, many little things in Olympus Has Fallen that infuriated me. This kind of amateur-level action passed in the 80s and 90s because of some charming cheesiness they may have had, but modern audiences today are smart enough to know what the third act reveal is going to be five minutes in. This movie treads the line between unbearable and laughable cinema. I'm sure the studio's reasoning for under-promoting this film is because of the current state of world affairs between North Korea and the U.S., or the film's numerous head-stabbings garnering it an R rating, but the fact of the matter is this film should have been a straight to DVD/Blu-Ray or on-demand release only.

Even if you can somehow swallow the film's awful premise, you still won't be able to stomach the constipated style of acting, the hideous excuses for visual effects, or the nauseatingly bad writing. I think I've used enough descriptive adjectives to make my point. Till the Razzies, farewell Fuqua.

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Tags: Antoine Fuqua, Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Morgan Freeman, Rick Yune, Angela Bassett, Robert Forster, Melissa Leo, Olympus Has Fallen

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Andrew Burns loves film and comics, and can be found writing about when those worlds converge. You can follow him on Twitter at @myAndrewBurns.

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