It will probably make a fortune at the box-office, but ‘Olympus Has Fallen’ could make quadruple the amount by aptly changing its name to ‘Die Hard 6’ starring John McClane’s second cousin, twice removed, Mike Banning.
In the first of the “Terrorists take over the White House” movies set to hit our screens this year, Gerard Butler plays Mike Banning, the former head Secret Service agent for U.S. President Asher (Aaron Eckhart). 18 months after saving Asher during a freak accident and allowing the First Lady (Ashley Judd) to die, Mike gets a chance to redeem himself when the White House is attacked and the President is taken hostage.
In a film such as this, your hero protagonist has to be flawed, therefore relatable, and a champion of the people that an audience can get behind. Butler’s Banning isn’t a flawed character - he’s a nice guy who’s too smart and too committed for his own good, while at the same time... he stabs way too many people in the head too freely and easily to not come off as slightly psychotic. Clearly an overlooked character fault that could have been saved in the editing room.
With names like Antoine Fuqua (director of ‘Training Day’) and a cast with the likes of Aaron Eckhart, Melissa Leo, Angela Bassett and Morgan Freeman, ‘Olympus Has Fallen’ fails to deliver the gritty, raw, hard, action flick it appears to be on paper. This film is pure popcorn material, but embarrassingly unintentionally. The cringe-worthy, laughter-inducing cliché-fest gets its first LOL moment when a bullet-riddled American flag is tossed unceremoniously from a White House balcony by some arbitrary bad guy. For seconds, not frames, audiences watch as this tattered icon gracefully falls in slow motion to the ground. With the flag in ruins and yet still recognisable, this “down but not out” signifier borders on it’s-so-bad-it’s-almost-good. And it’s this moment that sets up the tone of the rest of the film... you can almost hear the sound of collective hearts drop in disappointment at this realisation.