Thursday, March 14, 2013

“Olympus Has Fallen” – Movie Review




This week, the Spring Semester of my movie class officially began with a screening of director Antoine Fuqua’s new action-thriller, “Olympus Has Fallen”, starring Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart and Morgan Freeman.


After a Korean paramilitary team successfully invades The White House, a downgraded Secret Service Agent tries to save the day – but can he both rescue The President and prevent a nuclear holocaust?


Long-time Secret Service Agent Mike Banning (Butler) is so trusted by United States President Benjamin Asher (Eckhart) that he’s almost developed a personal relationship with The President’s family, far above and beyond the professional relationship necessary to be a bodyguard. It is for that reason that Banning is crushed when he’s demoted to a Treasury Department job following the death of Asher’s wife (Ashley Judd) as the result of an automobile accident when The President believes Banning could have saved her. A year and a half later, Banning is still grieving about being stuck at a desk job and yearns for his previous role.

While President Asher meets with his guest, the Prime Minister of South Korea, The White House suddenly finds itself under attack by a group of terrorists. Fearing for Asher’s safety, he and his team are immediately whisked away to a secluded underground bunker, along with the Prime Minister and his associates. Unfortunately, once everyone has secured themselves in the bunker, it is learned that vital members of the security team have been infiltrated with traitors who have allowed some of the insurgents access – included among them is their leader, Kang (Rick Yune).

Witnessing this insurrection first hand, Banning immediately leaps into action and utilizes all of his skills to fight his way into The White House in an effort to defend his country from the attackers – an independent paramilitary group originally from Korea, but disavowed by the governments from both the North and South. Since both the President and Vice President are being held, House Speaker Trumbull (Freeman) is now in charge while witnessing the kidnappers execute their hostages. With both time and hostages running out, can Banning rescue President Asher as well as prevent nuclear explosives from blowing up The United States?


Olympus Has Fallen” (or, as it could alternatively be titled, “The Koreans Are Coming! The Koreans Are Coming!”) can be forgiven for its trite scenes and corny dialog only because of the relentlessly explicit violence, gunplay substituting for foreplay and massive explosions – all of which are requisites for fans of action-thrillers who will happily sit munching their popcorn and sipping a 64 ounce sugary soda. In the spirit of full disclosure (and to fend off anyone who thinks I may be pretentiously berating this movie), I should tell you that I am also among those fans.

Admittedly, “Olympus Has Fallen” is just plain goofy – there are a number of scenes that had me giggling, although I’m fairly certain that was not the reaction intended by its filmmakers. It occurred to me often that they probably had to shoot many takes of quite a few scenes because the actors must’ve had a difficult time keeping a straight face while having to say some of these lines. So, even if you’re not into this movie for the action and violence (which, let’s face it, are reasons just as good as any), it also rates well for its high degree of corn appeal. On a side note, I should add that it’s not lost on me how timely this flick is for a number of reasons: the recent rumblings from North Korea, Ashley Judd contemplating running for Senate and the Drone controversy (yes, “Olympus” features a scene with one of those, too!). If for nothing else, this motion picture should expect to get some traction due to its obvious overlap with current events.

Following the screening, our instructor interviewed actress Angela Bassett, who had a small role in “Olympus Has Fallen” as Secret Service Director Lynn Jacobs. Bassett said that she did the movie despite the tiny part because she had wanted to work with director Antoine Fuqua for quite some time now. She added that another motivating factor to play the role of the Secret Service Director was due to the fact that the role had originally been written for a man; clearly, the filmmakers wound up casting against type with an African-American woman for the part of Gerard Butler’s boss – probably thinking it appropriate since it’s 2013, after all.

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