Saturday, December 27, 2014

'Olympus Has Fallen': 'Die Hard' with way more 'Murica

Remember what the original Die Hard was like?

'Olympus Has Fallen': 'Die Hard' with way more 'Murica

Remember what the original Die Hard was like? Okay, now imagine that someone remade that exact movie, but let Toby Keith take a red pen to the screenplay first. The result is Olympus Has Fallen.

That's not to say that it's awful; it's everything you expect it to be. The concept is implausible and most of the allegory falls flat, but that doesn't entirely undermine its ability to entertain. It's got all the main ingredients of a suitable action film: 'splosions, one-liners, and a level of good ol' fashioned, red-blooded American patriotism that would force Stephen Colbert to step up his game.

Gerard Butler plays John McClane Mike Banning. Morgan Freeman is Carl Winslow as a nervous patrol officer Speaker of the House/Acting President Trumbull. Aaron Eckhart is POTUS.

Banning was head of the President's Secret Service team until the First Lady died in a gruesome car crash. He is not happy that he's stuck on desk duty in wake of the accident. When North Korean terrorists decimate errbody in charge of protecting the White House/President/America, Banning sprints through the streets of D.C. yelling at everyone to take cover. The Washington Monument crumbles because, metaphors.

He finally reaches 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and begins picking off terrorists and trying to save Secret Service agents. When the seige is complete, it's only the terrorists and Banning left standing because this is 'Murica and everyone deserves a second chance. Now that he's in the White House after it's been conquered, it's time for him to go Splinter Cell on all of their asses.

If it sounds like Die Hard fan fiction, that's because it (basically) is. Director Antoine Fuqua noticeably (Training Day, Shooter) evokes our nostalgia for the classic action film throughout Olympus. The premise, first off, is that our hero is stuck inside the White House with one line of communication out, helping to subvert the terrorists' plans from within the confines of the building they've commandeered. At one point, he has a conversation with Benedict Arnold Forbes (Dylan McDermott), during which they smoke cigarettes while you wait for Banning to offer the villain an unloaded gun and scream "BULLIIIIIIIIIIIIIITS!" Later, the Secretary of Defense (Melissa Leo) walks across the White House, her bare feet crunching broken glass. There's even a botched rescue attempt that takes place on the building's roof.

Despite it's familiarty, Olympus Has Fallen is fun as hell. The best part is when Gerard Butler does a wonderful Kai the Hitchhiker impersonation and SUH-MASHES a terrorist's skull in with a big bust of Abraham Lincoln. Or maybe when when Speaker Trumbull is told that he's Acting President and the guy three rows behind you yells, "Yeeeeeeeeeeah, BABY!" Another second viewer had to have set a record for most times shouting, "JUST BOMB THA WHITE HOUSE" in a crowded movie theater without ending up in Gitmo.

Also, there's one perfectly timed joke that serves as a poignant commentary on the state of communication and media in America. A conversation that probably took place while Creighton Rothenberger and Katrin Benedikt (and Toby Keith) were writing the screenplay:

"And... fin. Great job, you guys. I think we've got a winner here."

"Yeah, but the Internet is weird, right? Let's add a Twitter joke in there somewhere."

"Okay, like near the beginning when news of the attack on D.C. is spreading? Or maybe when Speaker Trumbull calls a press conference to brief America on the state of things immediately after the attack? That would make sense."

"No, let's add it to the most crucial line of the entire film."

"BRILLIANT!"

Olympus Has Fallen is the Five Guys Burgers and Fries of modern films. Sure, you've tasted it before—and it offers little nutritional value—but that doesn't make it any less delicious. (Roland Emmerich's upcoming White House Down starring Channing Tatum will be the Shake Shack to Olympus' Five Guys.)

On a scale of Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever to The Godfather, Olympus Has Fallen is a 5.

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