White House Under Siege

‘Olympus Has Fallen’ lacks imagination plus Trop’s IMAX 
is back with digital upgrade.

By Lori Hoffman
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Mar. 27, 2013

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There are nearly as many clichés as bullets and bodies in Olympus Has Fallen, the first of two movies featuring a terrorist takeover of the White House scheduled for this year. Directed by Antoine Fuqua (Training Day, Shooter), Olympus is the action movie equivalent of a Frankenstein monster assembled from other movies with the main template being Under Siege, plus a dollop of attitude from Die Hard and an overall blow-things-to-hell ambiance from almost any Michael Bay movie from the last decade.

If it had come together in a marginally believable way, which would be difficult, considering the premise of the White House being vulnerable to an attack, it might have worked. However, it didn’t because the believability factor was constantly under siege, and despite the best efforts of a cast headed by Gerard Butler and Aaron Eckhart, the preposterous premise never gains traction.

Butler plays Secret Service agent Mike Banning, the former head of White House security who is now stuck in the purgatory of a desk job at the Treasury. Eckhart is the president.

When the attack on the White House begins (the bad guys are the North Koreans), magic Mike manages to run to the scene, elude the hail of bullets that is cutting down agents left and right and winds up as the last man standing in a body strewn White House. This is when the Under Siege vibe kicks in big time, because Mike is a Special Forces badass with a mean streak and like Steven Seagal’s Casey Ryback, he is the only hope to save the president. He even announces that to the acting president (Morgan Freeman) and the grumpy general (Robert Forster) on the other end of the satellite phone Mike took from the Oval Office safe.

The superior acting skill of Butler over Seagal is, unfortunately, made mute by the ridiculous premise, cliché-filled dialogue and the explosion overkill.

Here’s hoping that White House Down, starring Channing Tatum, Jamie Foxx, Maggie Gyllenhaal and James Woods and directed by Roland Emmerich (Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow) has a better story on tap when it arrives in June. 

Olympus Has Fallen
 *1/2 stars (our of four)
Directed by Antoine Fuqua • Rated R

IMAX Goes Digital

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