Zeus will answer with a knife up your esophagus.
I recently paid $3.75 to watch Olympus Has Fallen in a second run theater, sitting in an antiquated seat that was as ergonomically pleasing as a lawn gnome hammered into my spinal column with a pneumatic piston. This proved to be a suitable metaphor for what the film did to my brain.
One-time Secret Service agent Mike Banning (Gerard Butler, 300) is riding a stuffy desk job for the Treasury Department after a traumatic incident that led to the death of the President’s puffy-faced wife. But his remarkable skills of killing and shooting and punching are called upon when one day a mysterious terrorist outfit launches an all-out assault on the White House. From the skies and the ground, bullets fly, bystanders fall and the President (Aaron Eckhart, Erased) and his most trusted advisers are taken hostage by a deranged detachment of North Korean commandos. The purpose of their mission? To capitalize on the rampant stupidity of our nation’s elite ruling class and blow us all to kingdom come.
The word on the street was that Antoine Fuqua’s assault-on-the-White-House opus was a legit hard-R actioner and any time one of those manages to squeak past the suits I feel obligated to support the effort. But Holy Cats is Olympus Has Fallen mind-bogglingly dumb.
Secret Service agents, as well-regarded as they may be, have yet to overcome the nasty quirk present in virtually all armed personnel of running headlong into high-caliber automatic weapon fire despite the lack of cover and the screaming of the guys who were in front of them like seven seconds ago.
If you hijack and fly an armed gunship into D.C. airspace, fighters won’t get scrambled until you’re about ninety feet from the Lincoln Memorial.
Dylan McDermott plays a retired Secret Service agent who joins up with the terrorist gang because…well, I have no idea. He blubbers on about the President cozying up with Wall Street, but you’d think a softer transition to laying waste to the White House would at least be getting skunked at a few Occupy Utica events before getting into the hard stuff.
And even as a turncoat he sucks. After getting socked in the face several times by Gerard Butler and asked why he sold out his country, he laments that he “lost his way” and starts to tear up, before agreeing to help the man that just punched him and stabbed him with a pen knife.
The terrorists are renegade North Koreans. Their plan is to force America to withdraw from the Korean peninsula or the President gets whacked. If there was ever a first time for a movie version of the U.S. government to actually abide by the “America doesn’t negotiate with terrorists” policy, this would have been it. One President and a couple of bureaucrats for the entire nation of South Korea and possibly Japan? No problem, right? Wrong. The acting President (Morgan Freeman, who really should know better) complies with the demands.
That’s not all these scumbags want either. Their super-top-secret plan is to extract codes from the President and his two advisors that will detonate every nuclear weapon in their silos and turn the United States into a baked potato. Which raises the question: why even develop a system like that in the first place? According to the writers it’s so we can abort a mistakenly launched missile. How often are these close calls? Is the specter of some janitor accidentally hitting the big red button with his mop handle worth risking a domestic apocalypse?
Still, you’d expect if it ever came down to some bad guys threatening to wipe out America, our trusted leadership would endure a couple of kicks to the solar plexus and keep the digits to themselves. Not so. They all pony up the intel and with surprisingly little resistance. This President coughs up the goods with particular ease, ensuring his place ahead of President Wayne Palmer from 24 (he of the “if you light a nuke on American soil one more time there’s going to be trouble” ultimatum) as the most incompetent fictional head of state ever devised.
Final dialogue exchange: Gerard Butler and the President limp out of the fiery remains of the White House. Corpses of co-workers and friends and innocents litter the terrace. Gerard Butler says “Sorry about the house, sir.” The President responds “Don’t worry, it’s insured.” They laugh. Slow-motion shot of the flag. The end.
Buttressing all this is rampant R-rated action and bloodshed and F-bombs and throat-impaling and eye-gouging and slow-motion flag-raising. So yeah, Olympus Has Fallen is recommended!
The 2.40:1/1080p transfer has its moments, but I found it lacking overall. The picture quality is gritty, which would fit with the hardcore nature of the film, though I’d prefer something crisper. The loudness is there, courtesy of a juiced 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track that will rattle an array of living room fixtures. Extras are so-so: bloopers and a series of brief, behind-the-scenes featurettes looking at the making-of, the cast, the Blackhawk sequence, combat sequences, and visual effects; plus a DVD copy and UltraViolet digital download.
Guilty of nuking brain cells. But up from the ashes, rises moderate amusement.