Friday, March 22, 2013
Olympus Has Fallen
Gerard Butler's last few movies haven't been great, and his last one I reviewed, Playing for Keeps, was awful. Luckily, he's back to the action film genre in Olympus Has Fallen, and he plays a former secret service agent who now works at the Treasury. The movie was much better than Butler's recent endeavors, and there is a lot to recommend about it, although parts are definitely a bit unrealistic.
Mike Banning (Butler) serves President Benjamin Asher (Aaron Eckhart) as a secret service agent. One night, when the roads are especially snowy and treacherous, the President and his wife and young son leave Camp David with their entourage, headed to some billionaire's Christmas party, with the two of them in one car and the son and Banning in another. Their entourage of cars are suddenly halted when the lead car hits some ice and spins around, headed for the river. The car teeters and Banning is able to save the President; however, the car goes down with his wife still in the car.
A year and a half later, Banning has a boring security job at the Treasury, where he can see the White House from the window. The leader of South Korea comes to visit the President to talk about the North Korea situation and their mutual interests; soon, however, the White House finds itself under attack by North Korean forces. The President and some of his staff is kidnapped by Kang (Rick Yune), an evil man who wants to make a "united Korea," and he threatens to kill the President if the U.S. Government does not do as he says. Banning has made his way to the White House by now, and actually has slipped inside, even though the rest of the President's secret service guards have all been shot down. Banning makes contact with the government and helps get the President's son out of the White House, and will battle Kang to save the President as well.
A local critic (who shall remain nameless) was loudly bashing the unrealistic moments of this movie after the film, and although I agree that parts are definitely unrealistic, it's an action movie, not a documentary or a "what if?" nonfiction film. I enjoyed the movie for what it was - a major "popcorn" film - and Gerard Butler and Aaron Eckhart were great in their roles. Angela Bassett and Morgan Freeman also have parts in the film, as the Director of the secret service and the Speaker of the House, respectively, and Dylan McDermott plays a former secret service agent who ends up having a secret agenda.
Yes, see this film. Be aware that it definitely earns its "R" rating - there's a ton of bloodshed and violence throughout. I was glad to see Gerard Butler back in top form here, although I must say I question a White House that hasn't changed its security codes for one and a half years (perhaps that's why it was so easy for the Koreans to invade ...). The situation itself is scary too - at the end of the movie, we see police/fireman re-raising the American flag, a la the famous 9/11 picture - and hopefully it's one that will never happen in real life.
Olympus Has Fallen is in theaters today, March 22nd, and is rated R with a runtime of 120 minutes. 3.5 stars out of 5.