That is not a question the makers of Olympus Has Fallen bother to ask. In this Die-Hard-in-the-White-House action flick directed by Antoine Fuqua (Training Day), Secret Service Agent Banning (Gerald Butler) must save the President (Aaron Eckhart) and the US from Korean terrorists who take over the White House and want America’s nuclear codes.
Olympus Has Fallen is cheap and effective. By “cheap” we mean that when a character we’re supposed to care about dies, someone screams “Nnnoooo!” and starts running towards the body in slow motion. By “effective” we mean that it’s quite exciting—an achievement when you consider that everything we see onscreen has been done before, and better.
This is the second time in two days that we’ve seen Morgan Freeman and Melissa Leo in mediocre action movies, reminding us that Oscar winners have to pay their bills, too. Fuqua sets up stuff, and then seems to forget about them (Major rewrites?). When we first see President Asher he’s boxing with Banning; he doesn’t get to throw a single punch after that. The president’s kid Connor knows the secret passages in the White House; we never see him going through them. The car crash at the start of the movie seems to have been caused by an assassination attempt; we never hear about the attempt again. Asher keeps saying that the terrorists will have to kill him for the nuclear code; suddenly they have the code and we don’t know how they got it.
Still, we’re always happy to see Angela Bassett, even if she’s just sitting at a table looking worried, and Dylan McDermott, even if he’s just standing around looking handsome. If you like square jaws, thick necks and loud explosions, you might enjoy this.
Rating: * * *