Twitter Plot Summary: The White House is attacked by Koreans and it’s all down to John McClane wannabe Gerard Butler to save the day!
Five Point Summary:
1. That’s an impressive opening assault.
2. Skulking around the White House…
3. KNIFE TO THE HEAD!
4. An attempt at a twist! Shame Die Hard already did it.
5. Fighting for the President’s honour. Or something.
What could be better than a film where Gerard Butler goes kill crazy and stabs multiple bad guys in the head with a knife? Well if I’m being completely honest, there’s quite a lot of things in this wonderful world of ours that are far, far better than that, but in terms of cinematic entertainment, with the cheese factor dialled up to 11, there are few finer examples.
Taking the Die Hard concept and adding “in the White House” to the title, Olympus Has Fallen was the first of two similarly themed films out last year to play out this concept, the other of course being White House Down. In this one, disgraced former Presidential bodyguard Gerard Butler is working down the road from the White House when a plane drops by and the building is attacked by distinctly Korean-looking villains. This opening attack is the highlight, the remaining action never quite living up to its choreography or impact. Indeed, after this our time is mostly spent following Butler as he shanks bad guy after bad guy in the head, whilst the villains cackle evilly in the President’s secure bunker and the President himself, a largely ineffectual Aaron Eckhardt, gets to play the stereotypical damsel in distress and subsequently has nothing noteworthy to add to the story. Other than being the president, of course.
What works in its favour is how serious everybody takes it. The “other” White House film revelled in silliness, fully embracing the daft idea at its core and was ultimately another fun, entertaining action romp. Olympus… has the same amount of fun, but maintains its stoic, poe-faced demeanour from start to finish. There’s nary a plot twist in sight, in particular when the President’s son is whisked out of the building. Just when you think it might all go terribly wrong, or there might be a surprise twist, he’s out of there and Butler can get back to his important task of shanking bad guys. Whilst it might have a serious demeanour, the script does occasionally have a bit of fun in terms of dialogue, none more so than when Butler has a conversation with the bad guys and invites them into a game of f**k off, with them going first. Genius.
In a secure location elsewhere, power is handed to the reluctant Speaker of the House Morgan Freeman. He gets to ponder for the film’s length, perhaps his easiest film role since he presided over the planet’s near destruction in Deep Impact. That’s a whole lot o’ sittin’ around you’re doing there, Mr Freeman. Much like everything else in the film, Freeman, the generals and the token woman in that room all exist just so Butler can explain how many bad guys he’s killed so far, how many more he has left, and to let them know how terrible their plans are for bringing the hostage situation to a peaceful end. It’s not big and it’s not clever, but Olympus is perfectly acceptable popcorn fodder.