Starring Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, and Morgan Freeman. Rated 14A.
If you need any more evidence that mainstream Hollywood is becoming a sinkhole for the greedy and creatively bankrupt, look no further than Olympus Has Fallen. Directed by Antoine Fuqua (Training Day), this is a movie with the soul of an incredibly brutal video game. After a while, I stopped counting the number of times people got shot through the head at point-blank range. But it happens enough to border on the repulsive.
The plot is a direct steal from two or three movies that seem genteel by comparison. Think Under Siege or the first Die Hard with a bit of In the Line of Fire tossed in for good measure. Thanks to a tragic accident, Secret Service agent Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) has been removed from the president’s security detail and confined to a desk. He springs back into action when a group of Korean terrorists take over the White House.
What follows ranges from improbable to downright insulting. But it’s the relentless violence that stays with you long after any thread of logic has been abandoned. Dead Secret Service agents are scattered across the White House steps like a battle scene from Gone With the Wind. And that’s just for starters.
The producers attempt to undercut some of the more crudely offensive moments by peppering the cast with actors who deserve better. Aaron Eckhart plays the president. Robert Forster plays a befuddled general. Melissa Leo—subjected to numerous indignities by the terrorists—portrays the secretary of defense. And Morgan Freeman—as the speaker of the House—gets to utter such classic lines as: “Abort! Abort!”
There’s enough jingoistic flag-waving here to mirror current events. But when the reality of actual politics in Washington is chaotic enough to fill us with dread, do we really need to be subjected to this kind of sham?