Starring: Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Morgan Freeman, Dylan McDermott, Angela Bassett, Rick Yune, Ashley Judd, Cole Hauser, Robert Forster, Finley Jacobsen.
Rated: R. Action/Thriller. Running Time: 2 hours.
In recent years an annoying phenomenon has appeared in Hollywood, the release of movies with nearly identical subject matter, right on top of each other. There was Deep Impact and Armageddon. Red Planet and Mission to Mars. The Girl and Hitchcock. Now we have White House Down and Olympus Has Fallen. We haven’t seen the former yet but we just rented the latter out of our beloved Redbox. A far-fetched, action packed, predictable hostage story that I realized half way through, was just Die Hard set in the White House. Gerard Butler is John McClane, Rick Yune is Hans Gruber. The White House is Nakatomi Plaza, Robert Forster is the inept FBI agent that sends in the troops against our hero’s advice. Morgan Freeman and Angela Bassett team up to form a composite of the sympathetic Sgt. Al Powell, and Aaron Eckhart plays the President but is really just Bonnie Bedelia as Mrs. McClane. There’s a failed helicopter assault/rescue, and plenty of wise-cracking one-liners from Butler, as he McClanes through the scores of North Korean bad guys. I loved this movie, in 1988, the first time I saw it. Now? Not so much.
Recently, Ross has been offering up insightful synopses of our entertainment. He first pegged my new series crush, Ray Donovan (Showtime), as “Soprano’s West”. And when he fixed Olympus Has Fallen as a Die Hard rehash, I knew he nailed it again. Although, if it wasn’t for Butler’s McClanesque one-liners I would have found nearly no amusement in this flick. Sure there are some action packed artillery scenes and tons of dramatic explosions, but it definitely didn’t add up to Die Hard standards. It lacked Die Hard’s effortless charm. To sum up Olympus Has Fallen in one word: forgettable. I found myself missing the days of Butler donning a red loin cloth & ball kicking some Persian dude bellowing, “THIS IS SPARTA”. I like to remember him at his best. As for the other mish mash of famous faces, I saw people who I also like to remember as their past characters. Aaron Eckhart; Harvey Dent a.k.a. Two-Face. Ashley Judd; Dr. Kate McTiernan (Kiss The Girls)…I’d have to include Olympus co-star Morgan Freeman with this film. He is the only man allowed to play Alex Cross. That last line is directed at you, Tyler Perry. Please stick to what you know – dressing up as old black ladies.
Gerard Butler is a likeable dude, and man’s man. He disposes of the henchmen well in this movie and has some pretty cool moves. That being said, I’ve always found him lacking as a movie star. I did enjoy 300 and Chasing Mavericks was okay, but he is just stiff. He doesn’t have “It”. You can’t really define “It”, you just know it when you see it. Tom Cruise, Tom Hanks, Humphrey Bogart, Jack Nicholson, De Niro, Pacino, Daniel Day-Lewis, Cary Grant. You get the point. They’re trying to make Butler a star. They’re trying with Ryan Reynolds too, but you can’t make champagne out of lemons. The other actors in Olympus Has Fallen don’t do much here either. For crying out loud, Morgan Freeman just played the President not long ago in the aforementioned Deep Impact, now he’s the acting President. Ashley Judd and Cole Hauser stop by for a cup of coffee. Aaron Eckhart is tied up most of the movie, probably wishing he could escape entirely. Rick Yune is okay as the head bad guy, but really he’s pretty much the evil nephew from Karate Kid 2. And his female sidekick is a carbon copy of the Asian bad girl who gets her ass kicked by John McClane in Live Free or Die Hard. Hell, that fourth installment of Bruce Willis’ series was ten times better than OHF. And come to think of it, they fake blew up the White House in that one too. Instead of renting or ordering Olympus Has Fallen, take the time to revisit any Die Hard movie, the guy in those films is a bona fide movie star. “Yippee ki yay, Motherfucker!”
Butler’s McClane tribute was a lame, “Let’s play a game of fuck off, you go first.” I’m not saying I won’t use the line, it just didn’t suit Gerry. Anyhow, OHF was a mediocre movie with a potentially decent plot that failed to execute its ideas. There were some glimpses into clever writing, such as the relationship between Butler and the President’s son, which proves to be an asset as the boy seeks refuge during the attack. It just seemed like something we’ve already seen, good guy is offered redemption, saves the day, blah blah blah. In order for a story of this nature to translate, it has to find its niche. Olympus didn’t have a niche, it just carved out a tiny little spot next to the Die Hard series. Sorry Mike Banning (Butler’s character in OHF), but John McClane kicks your ass.
Ross’ Rating: 1.75 Gummy Bears out of 5.
Maria’s Rating: 2.25 Gummies.