Friday, March 22

REVIEW: Olympus Has Fallen

Directed by Antoine Fuqua
2013 Action Thriller
1 hour 59 minutes
From FilmDistrict
and Millennium Films

Gerard Butler
Aaron Eckhart
Morgan Freeman
Angela Bassett
Rick Yune
Melissa Leo
Robert Forster
Dylan McDermott
Rahda Mitchell
Cole Hauser
Finlay Jacobsen
Ashley Judd

If you mixed equal parts Die Hard and Air Force One, you'd come out with something seriously resembling Olympus Has Fallen.  Though it was completed over a year ago, one wonders why it took so long to release and then in one of the deadest movie months of the year.  We've been rather fixated on Washington D.C. in all this time, so no matter when it's been released, it still has that timely feel to it.  And while no new ground has been broken here, Olympus Has Fallen nonetheless remains highly entertaining and those two hours just whizzed by.

The plot concerns North Koreans taking down the U.S. President in the White House itself.  Surely the most secure structure on the planet, that fact adds to the overall amazement that a large group of terrorists, no matter how efficient and well-organized-- and they are certainly that-- could pull off something of this magnitude.  I bought it all.  Usually films of this genre have those ghastly moments of incredulousness but I don't really recall anything worth getting my knickers in a twist.

I thought the initial swooping down on the White House was awesome.  It was done with true military dispatch and I know my jaw must have dropped at the audaciousness and precision of the moves of these terrorists, taking out scores of people in their wake.  Migawd a lot of folks were killed in this film but gore is at a minimum.  I was also astonished at the list of stunt people... the producers must have employed every stunt person in Hollywood.

Into this fray comes Gerard Butler as a secret service toughie who has not been as user-friendly to the President, Aaron Eckhart, since a tragedy, which opens the film.  Butler has been tucked away in a thankless job ever since but lucky for all that he is near 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue when you-know-what hits the fan.

You can kinda fill in most of the details yourself from here until the conclusion.  It's pulled off well although it's a template we're all familiar with.  We watch with excitement as Butler hacks away at the equally crack opponents.  We fear for the President and some of his cohorts tied up in a White House bunker with the bad guys there to mete out the punishment.  And we are nervous with the brass at the Pentagon wheeling and dealing as best they can, with some differences of opinion on how to accomplish the best moves.  

I have been a fan of director Fuqua since Training Day.  I then liked his steering of Tears of the Sun, King Arthur and Shooter.  Olympus Has Fallen is a big film for a director to pull off.  There's a great deal going on here and he has given it the look, the sound, the feel of colossal danger.  He knows his way around action.

Gerard Butler as Banning

What this film has going for it is a fabulous cast.  And lure me in and slap me around if I'm not a sucker for those big, splashy casts.
It's about time my BFF gets a movie somewhat worthy of his talents.  God knows Mr. B needs a hit.  He caught my eye initially in his first film, Mrs. Brown, and then, of course, in Phantom of the Opera and a beautiful little gem of a film, Dear Frankie.  I thought he rocked in 300.  But since then, Boy, it's been drowning in romantic comedy drek.  Just his last three films alone should be stricken from his resumé.  This film should get him some attaboys for an action role, but I still hope he gets back to heartfelt stories like Dear Frankie.  I think he has the abilities to reach out and deeply touch us and I'd love for him to get a part that allows that.  Meanwhile, Gerry Boy, good job here.

Also very good is Rick Yune as the chief bad guy.  Handsome and steely and willing to go the distance to achieve the desired results, his performance is worthy of being singled out.  I don't think I have seen Yune since his debut, Snow Falling on Cedars (1999), another film in which I thought he was fascinating.

Rick Yune as Kang

I would be thrilled to sit quietly in a chair and simply observe Morgan Freeman take his driver's test, so you can imagine how I feel watching this man act.  He played the Speaker and Angela Bassett was the head of the Secret Service.  Like I feel about Yune, I wish I saw her in more films.

The rest of the cast were believable and true.  There is another film coming out on this same subject (White House Down), which I will no doubt see as well, but for my $4.25 (eat your hearts out, Los Angelenos), this cast cannot be beaten.

I am given to saying that this type of film is the perfect rainy day, buttered popcorn kind of film.  Just keep munching and sit back and enjoy.  If there's a sequel, I'm thinking maybe Dennis Rodman takes a supposed film crew to North Korea to make a phony movie so he can see how they invaded that White House so spectacularly.

Review of On The Road

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