Film: Olympus Has Fallen
Cast: Gerard Butler, Morgan Freeman, Aaron Eckhart, Angela Bassett, Dylan McDermott
Director: Antoine Fuqua
There is a scene in Olympus where Morgan Freeman, the acting President of the United States, orders a cup of coffee like he would be queuing up at Starbucks. The irony of the scene’s timing is so brutal that you can’t help but chuckle. There are several such moments in this latest offering from Hollywood that follows its predecessors such as Independence Day and Armageddon talking about American patriotism and it's glorification post 9/11.
Set against the backdrop of the most guarded building in the world – the White House (Olympus being the Secret Service code name) , the film begins with Presidential Guard Mike Banning (Butler) finding himself out of work when a freak accident at Camp David causes the First Lady her life. The real action begins when we flash forward to an important meeting between South Korean Prime Minister and the US administration over the nuclear crises surrounding North Korea. Uncannily the film resonates the current geopolitical stand off between the West and North Korea, giving the release a freaky edge! After rouge elements that infiltrated the South Korean entourage take the President and the White House under siege, it is left to the one-man-army of Banning to put everything on the line and become the national hero the script envisioned him to be!
It is a mindless action film that makes you feel you were at a video arcade playing one of those games where you blow the head off the bad guy and earn gold coins. Eventually the bad guys lose and America as always emerges triumphant with a hard hitting dry monologue about the never dying American spirit (sigh!). The screenplay is full of loopholes, while most of them are technical, the dialogues are like land mines waiting to blow up every time an actor opens his mouth. If you don’t take the film seriously (that’s how you approach most of the action films today) it has quite a few unexpected gems that will have you laughing your guts out. Like the moment when the Secretary of Defense (Mellisa Leo) asks the President , “how’s my hair?”, while being tied up in a bunker next to him, or the fact that they needed a black actor like Morgan Freeman to play the acting President (once again after Deep Impact).
Art directors working on the set of the White House which gets ripped apart through the film, could have done better. Once inside the Presidential Palace, the set feels like a cardboard box waiting to fall apart. Strangely the grandeur and charisma of the building is missing (putting up frames of ex-Presidents didn’t help!). Among the cast, Butler lisps his way through inane lines and struggles with infusing life into a weak and clichéd character. Eckhart is taken hostage to a script that ridicules his talent making him looking like a caricature. Fortunately Dylan McDermott’s role has that unpredictability which keeps you second guessing till the end.
If you love a corny action flick that is over the top and looney in its concept, then Olympus Has Fallen won’t disappoint you.