Terrorists have seized the White House in the new thriller “Olympus Has Fallen” and it’s up to a disgraced secret service agent to eliminate the threat before the ticking clock hits zero.
For an action film, this is the skeleton that has made Hollywood billions of dollars over the last few decades and recycling formula isn’t always a bad thing. Sometimes the comfort of familiarity can also offer something fresh and unique to go along with the recipe we already know. Unfortunately, Olympus Has Fallen has nothing new to offer but instead manages to take tried-and-true concepts and make them mind-numbingly dull.
The film is essentially Die Hard in the White House but lead actor Gerard Butler is certainly no Bruce Willis. Nope. Not by a long shot. The former 300 star is definitely giving the action hero thing his best shot but he’s let down by a terrible script and even worse visual effects that make his action scenes look cheap and laughable. And as much as I value director Antoine Fuqua’s work (Training Day, Brooklyn’s Finest) he does what he can with what seems to be a very limited budget.
Olympus Has Fallen also has some of the most blatant political propaganda to come out of a major Hollywood studio since Battle: Los Angeles (ironically, both films co-star Aaron Eckhart). There are enough shots of American flags in this movie (intact and torn to shreds) to make you get up in the theatre and recite the national anthem.
For a movie that wants to be Die Hard so badly it seems to forget the basic ingredients that made the original so great in the first place. Even 90s copycats like Under Siege (Die Hard on a battleship) and Sudden Death (Die Hard at a hockey game) managed to milk the formula to satisfactory results. Olympus Has Fallen was too busy showing off terrible visual effects, wooden dialogue and clichéd North Korean villains to pay attention to the little things and that’s a shame.
It should be said that Olympus Has Fallen is the first of two movies this year that will bring the “Die Hard in the White House” scenario to movie screens. The other is White House Down and it’s due out at the end of June. Its director is Roland Emmerich who is known for big budgets and even bigger explosions (he made 2012 and Independence Day just to name a few). We don’t need two White House action movies but then again we didn’t need two competing Snow White movies last year either. Film studios can’t come together and collaborate on one idea so instead they egotistically race each other to the finish line. I have a strong feeling that Olympus Has Fallen’s shortcomings may be a direct result of that competition.
Rated: R (for strong violence and language throughout)
Olympus Has Fallen opens in theaters on March 22, 2013.