Olympus Has Fallen (2013)
Where film makers of note will often take the bull by the horns and address difficult aspects of US history and culture, Hollywood tends to do the complete opposite. Events are simply re-imagined having a more popular, and box office friendly outcomes. Olympus Has Fallen fits squarely into this category, being a post 9/11 denial movie. In this case, the White House, that national symbol of American power and democracy is ruthlessly attacked by evil North Koreans (are there any other kind?), resulting in another sub Die Hard scenario. This movie holds no surprises and seeks to offer nothing more than what is on the poster. However, contrary to what you might think, that is not a bad thing at all.
Gerard Butler scowls his way through the movies two hour running time as Secret Service Agent Mike Banning. He is bullet proof and blessed with the marksmanship of a minor deity, while everyone else can't shoot for shit. President Benjamin Asher (Aaron Eckhart) struggles to maintain the dignity of his office while chained to a metal railing. Quality character actors such as Morgan Freeman, Angela Bassett and the great Robert Forster sit around the war room conference table and look as serious as their fees and conscience allow. The only real weak link in the chain are some sub-standard digital effects which diminish the impact of the White House attack. It’s somewhat odd considering that Olympus Has Fallen had a production budget of $70 million.
One aspect of the movie that does leave a somewhat unpleasant taste in the mouth, is the generic nature of the villains. At present due to prevailing economic and political reasons it is the North Koreans. The days of lambasting the Russians and Chinese seem to be long gone, especially as they now constitute lucrative markets for the film studios. Rick Yune's depiction of the movies North Korean bad guy Kang, is arbitrary to say the least. Although the movie is now five years old and has already had a sequel, current diplomatic events in the Korean peninsula put a different spin on the proceedings. As a result, Olympus Has Fallen now appears to have a rather unwholesome warmongering undercurrent.
Unlike so many action movies these days, Olympus Has Fallen is an old school R rating with is bloody body count and liberal use of profanities. Despite being an extremely dumb movie, at least it is content in its own skin. Shamelessly nationalistic, filled with clichéd tropes and generic action movie conventions, Olympus Has Fallen is generic box office fodder. But it doesn't make the mistake of pretentious naval gazing or pontificating on geo-political issues it is ill equipped to debate. Director Antoine Fuqua delivers a bombastic movie with all the subtly of a Rhinoceros horn up the backside. Yet considering the premise, could we really expect anything else? Would we even want it?