Review: Olympus has Fallen


Well I had always intended to watch this… but now that I have I have discovered some awful not-supposed-to-be-funny ‘Murica trite.

When a terrorist attack on the American White House ends with the President and his aids taken hostage and the House turned into a fortress, only an ex-Secret Service agent (who was retired due to an earlier accident that caused the death of the President’s wife) can save the day.

The 1990s were full of action political thrillers and Olympus has Fallen appears to be trying to rekindle that genre of film: grounded, realistic and most importantly contemporary stories based around sieges, hostages or conspiracies. But either Olympus has missed the point completely, or something has been lost over the last fifteen years.
First of all, this film (as someone from the UK) is so overwhelmingly America, just… in your face AMERICA. Okay, that’s fine for a while. But when every single scene for the first twenty minutes is noble politicans striding boldly through corridors while the score blares with trumpets and warbles with drums, over and over again, I’m sorry but you lose any sense of nobility.
We then have the actual attack on the White House which is spectacular, there’s no denying that the action in the film is well done (there’s no obnoxious shaky-cam for a start, I generally knew where everything was!) but again the total lack of defense around Washington DC was outright laughable.
“Suspension of disbelief” is all well and good, but when a tone of a film is generally seen as realistic or gritty, behaving like an action thriller than a standard popcorn flick, these sorts of issues become targets for criticism. Sure, trumpet how awesome America is just before obliterating everything it stands for a moment later! …
The film is a bloody sequence too: televised executions, beatings, stabbings, traitors, all shown through a lens of gritty hardship. I can’t actually call this pro-America, it comes across more like self-defecation!

Then there is Gerald Butler… Oh boy. I don’t dislike the man; I enjoyed Law Abiding Citizen (for example) but this film’s script and acting is atrocious. I’ve already said this film is bringing the 1990s back, and that is right. I’ve seen all of these cliche sequences before. I had all of the emotional attachment for him and his wife/girlfriend/partner/person as I do for my toothbrush: every now and then, I am reminded that it’s there.
Butler’s character is, for want of a better analogy, The Terminator. We see these terrorists enter the story by massacring hundreds of civilians, and so naturally Butler can go on a bloody rampage executing any terrorist he sees with impunity. Imagine Die Hard, but without the sense of humour or self awareness. He just growls and murders his way to inevitable victory (oh, could that be a spoiler? You mean you weren’t sure if the personification of America would survive this ordeal?)

Ugh. Suspension of disbelief can carry you so far, but after that you need to tone down the pretentiousness. It is a forgettable action film that doesn’t know how to act. “We are realistic and contemporary: We… have hi-tech Hydra weapon platforms. We Stand for American integrity: We use a three-code nuclear activation system called Cerberus.”

I need a good note to finish on… uhm… uhm… It is better than A Good Day to Die Hard?

Avoid, unless you want to have some noise in the background while you do something productive.

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