After doing so many serious dramas for this years Politic-a-Thon, I think it’s time to do something different: a big bombastic action film. The one I’ve chosen is one of the two Die Hard in the White House films from last year, Olympus Has Fallen and out of those two films, I’d take the stupid but entertaining White House Down over this boring slog of a film any day.
The plot concerns Mike Banning, the head of the President’s Secret Service detail who, after an incident where the President’s wife is killed, is removed from his post and takes a desk job at the Treasury but, during talks with South Korea, the White House is attacked by North Korean terrorists who take the President and several other key members of the Cabinet hostage in order to detonate the nuclear bombs in silos across the country. However, Banning is able to come in to help rescue the President. Right from the start of the film, this film makes a serious mistake by taking itself way too seriously for a film like this. When I think of a film with the premise of Die Hard in the White House, I expect a fun action film (which I eventually got with White House Down). Along with this, the villains are some of the most one-note, generic villains that I’ve seen in recent films. Say what you like about White House Down, but at least the villains were memorable. As a result of all of this, the film is really boring and predictable making it a very dull experience to watch.
The cast meanwhile adds to the disinterest I had with the film. Gerard Butler and Aaron Eckhart are very boring leads, having little to no personality throughout the film whilst Melissa Leo and Morgan Freeman are given virtually nothing to do as the Secretary of Defense and the Speaker of the House respectively. It feels to me like they were all cast for name recognition rather than adding anything substantial to the film. This sense of blandness continues with the villains with Rick Yune being a very generic, run of the mill, terrorist villain, again, going back to White House Down, despite the villains being ridiculous, are memorable due to getting top notch character actors like James Woods and Richard Jenkins to play them and making them so over the top that they became memorable. Here, the villains are so bland and generic that the second the film ended I forgot everything about them, with the exception of Dylan McDermott who is the only person in the film who gives even a hint of personality and it’s clear that he is the only member of the cast having a good time.
There are some good elements of the film though and those are in the technicals. Antoine Fuqua’s direction is solid throughout the film and the action scenes are given this great sense of heft which, along with the high level of blood, give this sense of realism to the action scenes which make them the only memorable parts of the film.
Overall, Olympus Has Fallen is a really bad film. Aside from the really well directed action scenes and some enjoyment from Dylan McDermott, the film is just this bland, boring, generic slog. This is probably the most boring film I saw that was released last year and considering that To The Wonder was also released then, that says a lot. If you want to see a good action film set in the White House, watch White House Down instead, it may be incredibly stupid but it’s not the boring mess that Olympus Has Fallen is.
My Rating: 1.5/5