Movie Reviews

‘Olympus Has Fallen’: Dies hard

By Zul AndraMovies - 12 April 2013 12:00 AM

‘Olympus Has Fallen’: Dies hard

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Ratings: 3 out of 5

The White House, a symbol of freedom, power and stunning touristy postcards, has put up with an apocalyptic ice age in ‘The Day After Tomorrow’, an earthquake in ‘2012’, and an alien invasion in ‘Independence Day’.

Being blown up to smithereens by terrorists – well, not yet. It’s a sensitive issue, you know, with 9/11 and all that stuff.

But Roland Emmerich, who directed the films mentioned above, feels like it’s okay now to rip the President’s house to shreds with his latest action-packed blockbuster, ‘White House Down’.

It stars Channing Tatum – as a cop who happens to be touring the White House with his daughter before it came under attack – and Jamie Foxx as the President who’s trapped in the aftermath.

Now Channing has to go and… save…. Wait a minute. Wrong movie.

I am supposed to be talking about ‘Olympus Has Fallen’, not ‘White House Down’. Silly me.

Pardon my confusion. Other than the latter being one syllable short, both ran head on with the same kind of story wrapped around an eerily similar premise.

My bad as I was also distracted with visions of Bruce Willis yippee kai yay-ing all over the place since the two films arguably tries hard to be ‘Die Hard’. (Sorry, had to do it.)

Not that I’ve watched Emmerich’s version (out in June in the States), but it’s one of those movies where the film might only be good as the trailer.

Director Antoine Fuqua’s ‘Olympus Has Fallen’ is something like that, but an extended one.

From start to finish you’ll get copious amount of gunfire and explosions between the North Korean terrorists and America’s totally unreliable army – as the mastermind of the attack, Kang Yeonsak (Rick Yune as a cold and calculated badass) gloats to President Benjamin Asher (Aaron Eckhart showing hints of Harvey Dent): “It takes the military 15 minutes to respond to an emergency. We took the White House down in 13.”

But fret not as no terrorist coup is complete without a one-man army up against it.

Mike Banning (Gerard Butler doing his best Bruce Willis impression) holds the President in high-regard. He was after all the lead Secret Security agent who was eventually demoted when he failed to save the First Lady (Ashley Judd – blink and you’ll miss her) in a car crash.

‘Olympus Has Fallen’ cues the rise of this forlorn, guilt-ridden agent who happens to be kicking back at his office desk a couple of blocks away.

He attends this pressing matter with some nifty gun work and even niftier one-liners.

The President is held hostage together with a handful of his cabinet ministers, the terrorist leader need to draw three sets of codes from them to launch some nukes, while his K-poppers run around the house looking for Asher’s son as a pawn. You know, just in case the President gets all self-sacrificing and shit.

Will Banning let that happen? Hell, no. He knows the White House as well as all the names of his 300 Spartans. He’s got the brute as well as the brain. All he needs now is one Morgan Freeman.

Yes, Morgan Freeman to calm everyone the hell down. His soothing voice can turn any calamities into doe-eyed puppies.

As Speaker of The House, he now steps up as Acting President and maintains contact with the rogue Banning via a satellite phone with excellent signal strength.

We all know how this one ends, slow-mo victorious ending and all.

You can’t blame Antoine Fuqua for trying. ‘Olympus Has Fallen’ has the same cheesy plot intensity and gory violence as his other films like ‘Training Day’, ‘Shooter’, ‘Tears of the Sun’ and ‘The Replacement Killers’.

What I don’t get is how the film is rated poorly across the board. Whoever’s comparing this to the likes of ‘The Pianist’ deserves a grand piano in the face.

I mean, you won’t get to see the White House shot out of the sky until sometime in June this year. Can you wait that long? Of course you can’t.

‘Olympus Has Fallen’ opens in theatres 11 April 2013

Zul Andra (@zulandra) is an entertainment writer who has his finger on Singapore’s nightlife and drinking pulse. He has interviewed hundreds of local and international artists in the last five years from the likes of Carl Cox and Lamb of God to BBC TV presenter, Simon Reeve and CNN business correspondent, Richard Quest. Previously a staff writer and web editor at I-S magazine, he currently writes for The New Paper, and Time Out Singapore. Having expanded his reach regionally with articles in Travel + Leisure and Scoot in-flight magazine, he also has columns in JUICE and Esquire. His work has appeared in TODAY, Nylon and ZIGGY, and maintains an award-nominated blog, Kiss My Culture