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The perfect review for Valentine’s Day Weekend!
2013 saw the release of Olympus Has Fallen starring Gerald Butler and Aaron Eckhart. It was one of the two “Die Hard in the White House” movies we got that year (which is interesting since that is a somewhat specific premise). The premise is pretty simple: North Korean terrorists are able to attack and infiltrate the White house, kill all the security forces, and take the president (Eckhart) and his staff hostage. However, one lone secret service agent (Butler) is all that remains to save the president before the Speaker of the House (Morgan Freeman) gives in to the terrorist demands.
If you can get behind that scenario (which is completely ridiculously and full of holes), then you can probably find yourself enjoying Olympus Has Fallen. Be warned, however, the film is fairly joyless. It is a straight-up action film. Though some moments do get a bit cheesy (like when Butler announces to a bad guy “I’m going to stab you in the brain” and then proceeds to do so), don’t expect any Schwarzenegger or Willis self-awareness or winking at the camera. The same can be said about the violence – it is “movie extreme” and fairly realistic. I wouldn’t call it graphic in the “torture porn” sense. It just isn’t as sanitized that you would see in a standard R-rated action flick.
That, in Olympus Has Fallen’s case isn’t a bad thing. The movie uses its style effectively and makes the movie stand out when compared to other films of its kind. And because director Antoine Fuqua went with more of a realistic and gritty take, we are spared from mustache twirling villains and incompetent “good guys” who are trying to push their own agenda. We are even spared a kid who was dangerously close in becoming Butler’s sidekick during the second act of the film. The only real character who stands apart from this realistic atmosphere is the corrupt agent played by Dylan McDermott. However, I am able to let this slide as, like Nicholas Cage, McDermott is a character actor who can, somehow, make otherwise ridiculous characters work.
But, of course this all depends on if you buy into the films initial hook of the White House being occupied. If you can suspend your disbelief enough to buy into it, then you will probably like what this movie has to offer. If you can’t, then Olympus Has Fallen is not for you.