In true hackneyed fashion, Olympus Has Fallen emulates mid to late-eighties actioners as a lone former Secret Service agent (Gerard Butler) goes toe-to-toe with South Korean terrorists, the latter of whom have forcibly taken control of the White House. Holding the President (Aaron Eckhart) and a string of US government higher-ups hostage, it’s a race against the clock for our commando as nuclear catastrophe looms ever-present on the proverbial horizon.
Opening with one of the more contrived sequences of 2013’s lackluster-thus-far mainstream canon, we’re offered insight into the lives and minds of our central protagonists as the tragedy preceding Butler’s Mike Banning’s demotion is highlighted. Unsuccessfully meshing with the bloodbath at Olympus‘ core, these characterizations are almost immediately overshadowed by the subsequent (and wildly implausible) invasion and conquering of our nation’s capital. Showering us viewers with one big budget set piece after another, even the terrorists’ motives are too familiarly and thinly scripted to add but a semblance of substance to Fuqua’s latest.
At the mere use of the word “bloodbath,” I vividly recall the persistent bouts of distractingly over-the-top violence, from point blank-range executions to limbs snapping and knives being driven through the skulls of Mike Banning’s opposition. Vast excess of CGI-generated blood splatters aside, even nods to Olympus‘ purely Die Hard-centric influences are forgotten as the film’s attempts at frank, situation-inspired realism become more humorous than gut-wrenching. If there’s one positive thing to make note of in this regard, it’s Fuqua’s steadfast attentiveness to the film’s primary and predictably attainable objective, and that is to right all wrongs in an admirably unbiased if still mildly pro-American fashion.
I’m as baffled as the next individual when it comes to analyzing the soon-to-be triple threat of White House takeover cinema. Antoine Fuqua’s intial go, while pervasively bloody and discernibly reminiscent of actioners past, lacks a soul as repetitive, sometimes laughable characterizations and combat scenarios pave the way toward a foreseeable conclusion. It’s serviceably acted and executed, however Olympus Has Fallen falls flat in painting a credible portrait of a well-worn terrorist-infused US invasion thriller.