How entertaining? ★★☆☆☆
Thought provoking? ★☆☆☆☆
7 April 2013
This article is a review of OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN.
“You might want to take a head count, the bodies are piling up,” Mike
Mixing sentimentality and sadism is an unusual mix for any cinema experience; clumsily attempting to pull the heartstrings one minute, then the next, people getting shot in the head. Perhaps the filmmakers thought audiences want a tear-stained countenance while the adrenaline is racing? There were no tears on my cheeks, unless you count those of laughter, from the attempts to manipulate me. The characterisation is woeful, so as the carnage amasses, admittedly enjoyably quickly, my emotions remained in check. OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN is unsurprisingly not going to trouble voting bodies come awards season; but what about the blood-pumping thrills, which is, let’s face it, why we’re here? Shoot ’em ups and ‘plosions are fun as long as their use is logical and their place in the plot makes sense. The longer this movie progresses the faster the credibility-meter dwindles.
You might be thinking the story of the White House, probably the most impenetrable building on Earth, being overrun by terrorists, the President captured, and a lone badass trying to rescue, might be skewing towards the original. However, I thought the sub-DIE HARD clones sputtered to a halt in the 90s. Even the latest in the franchise, A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD, failed to excite. Back in the day UNDER SIEGE (1992) was a guilty pleasure, but virtually the rest careered into derivate ignominy. So OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN is ploughing a field bereft of any real nutrients. Added to that, we’ve had a president in trouble, in a confined space, in the company of ne’er-do-wells, à la Harrison Ford’s AIR FORCE ONE (1997). Not only that, the public is getting later this year destruction maestro Roland Emmerich’s WHITE HOUSE DOWN. Phew, that’s a real dent to any presumptions of something fresh.
We first meet President Benjamin Asher (Aaron Eckhart) sparing in a boxing ring. His opponent is friend and top secret service agent Mike Banning (Gerard Butler). Immediately the audience is shown how tough this politician is. Will he thus prove a resilient adversary to his future assailants? There’s no need to answer. Quickly we also find out his young son is adept at finding the White House’s exits. To say the team behind this are laying heavy-handed breadcrumbs for us is understatement, they are more like bread factories dumped right in front of us with neon arrows pointing, in case we missed that this is a significant nugget of information. Dialogue-by-numbers is the modus operandi. The woodenness and perfunctory calibre of the script constantly grates, eating into the merriment of the mayhem.
The initial attack on the White House is spectacular and well put together, but the rest of the flick’s set-pieces fail to live up to that level of competence. Most of the authorities, who are conversing with Mike from some bunker, as he is revealed to be the lone hope, are muppets at worst, ineffectual at best. Banner is boringly always a step ahead. Of everyone.
Don’t get me started on the politics.
Some (more) re-writes would have elevated OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN to at least re-watchable status.