Tuesday, August 13, 2013
Video review: "Olympus Has Fallen"
Maybe we give too many points to originality. I'd rather see a really well-done rehash of old material than a wholly original movie without a dram of flair and wit. "Pacific Rim" may just be a mash-up of monster and robot movies, but it was giddy and fun. "After Earth" was a brand-new idea, but disastrously executed.
"Olympus Has Fallen" is hardly a novel flick. Start with the fact that it's one of two movies out this year about terrorists taking over the White House. And the plot is barely more than "Die Hard" with a zip code change.
But this action/thriller from director Antoine Fuqua ("Training Day") is a zippy, taut distraction. It's entirely implausible, but the sort of movie where you can park your brain in neutral for a couple of hours and have a good time.
Gerard Butler plays Mike Banning, a disgraced Secret Service agent who gets trapped in the White House when North Koreans attack. (I said implausible!) With the rest of the president's detail wiped out, he turns into a one-man wrecking crew, while the POTUS (Aaron Eckhart) and secretary of defense (Mellissa Leo) are trapped in the underground bunker by the sneering villain (Rick Yune).
There's some political intrigue, a side plot involving the president's kid hiding in the building's secret spaces -- though thankfully no lame tacked-on romance. Mostly it's Butler mowing through bad guys and trading insults via radio with the mastermind.
If that sounds a lot like John McClane taunting Hans Gruber while knocking off his henchman from twenty-odd years ago, that's because it is. But the very reason Hollywood recycles old ideas is because they're good ones.
"Olympus Has Fallen" may not be new, but sometimes something old is a better bet.
Video extras are rather modest. There are five making-of featurettes touching on standard subjects like stunts, special effects and casting the film. Add in a blooper reel, and you're done.