On the recommendation of several friends I went to see ‘Olympus Has Fallen’ last week. I had originally planned on seeing ‘Oz the Great and Powerful’ and wish I had, but my friends raved on and on about Olympus and what an incredibly great action movie it is, so despite the poor reviews from most movie critics and the lowly 47% rating from web movie review site Rotten Tomatoes, I forked over my money and went to see it. I went in expecting to be totally blown away and came away feeling shortchanged. Thank God I went to an early matinee screening so my disappointment only cost me $6 bucks.
Okay, maybe disappointment is going a bit too far. Olympus wasn’t that bad. I found it to be a decent action movie with some great special effects, a very high body count and an interesting premise. It’s brutal, savage and bloody, definitely an action film lovers delight. It’s teeming with patriotism and tugs at the heartstrings of America in a “God Bless America,” “Rally round the Flag” sort of way. The images of the White House under siege, the bullet ridden American flag and a partially destroyed Washington Monument bring to mind memories of 9/11 and the panic and anguish that followed.
Olympus is one of those films that could have been awesome, but lost direction along the way. Instead of taking chances and forging a new direction for action flicks it relies heavily on a the same old action movie crap. there’s nothing new. It’s a movie you’ll enjoy if you are able to suspend all belief and overlook the obvious, but the plot is far too contrived and predictable to mount any real suspense or anticipation in a serious movie goer.
So what’s the problem with “Olympus”? Well there are many, but the biggest is that we’ve seen it all before. What came to mind as I sat there watching was “Yippie ki yay motherf#@*er!” That’s right, Olympus reminded me so much of Die Hard and action hero John Mc Clane that I kept expecting a cameo appearance by Bruce Willis at any moment. Olympus is Die Hard revisited! It’s about one man, FBI agent Mike Banning taking on a small army of well trained, well armed bad asses who are holding hostages in a large building. This one man is the sole source of information, the eyes and ears of the would be rescuers outside who are unable to mount an assault on the building without risking the lives of the hostages. Now I ask you, isn’t this the exact same premise as “Die Hard”? You bet it is, except in Die Hard the hostages include John Mc Clane’s wife, while this time around it’s the president and key members of his cabinet who are being held.
It’s the classic John Mc Clane vs Hans Gruber conflict only now its Mike Banning vs North Korean terrorist Kang. Mike Banning and John Mc Clane are relentless in their efforts to save the captives, they are definitely cut from the same cloth, but there the similarities end. Banning is not what I would call a very likable character, he is boring and self absorbed, nothing at all like the witty John Mc Clane. This role is classic Willis. They should have had him step in, it was made for him. He could have been on a White House tour or something. He would have certainly given the character more life and a reason to care about him, as well as successfully completing the mission. In Olympus we don’t give a rats ass that Banning is no longer with the Secret Service and has been reassigned to a desk job in the Treasury Department, we care only that he succeeds in rescuing the president and saving America because he’s the only one who can
Like I said, we’ve seen it all before. If not with Willis and Die Hard, then how about Steven Seagal and his Under Siege series or even Rambo or Jack Bauer of 24? This one man force formula is an old but successful one. However when applied to the Olympus, White House hostage situation it falls flat. Why? Because the situation isn’t plausible and wasn’t developed properly. Marvelous Mike just happens to see the whole thing from his office window and manages to make his way to the White House, then strolls into the White House despite a hail of machine gun fire. While everyone around him falls, he magically manages to make his way in to save the day. I don’t think so.
Then there was the whole terrorists escape by ‘hiding among the hostages’ that we’ve seen countless times before. I tell you, if anyone thought Kang and the president were among the hostages that boarded that ill fated helicopter, they sure weren’t paying much attention. The whole take over was about the nuclear weapon codes and the only place to get them was in the bunker. Duh! You had to know they were still in the bunker, I did. I tell you the movie is just too transparent, it lacks imagination and is just to damn predictable. The best and most unexpected moment occurs in the first ten minutes! It’s all downhill from there. I’m not saying it’s not worth a look, but you’ll enjoy it a whole lot more if you can suspend belief for a couple of hours and just go with it.
Now we just have to wait a few more months when the next White house under siege movie “White House Down” comes out and see what they do with that one. By the way “Olympus has Fallen” to the number four spot this weekend. Yep it’s fallen hard…