Film Review: Olympus Has Fallen

Oh no, it’s happened again, we’re on the brink of World War III. Fear not, Frame Loopers, for the Land of the Free and Gerard Butler are here to seize the day!

The allegedly hunky Scot stars as Mike Banning, the former head of security for the universally adored President Asher (Aaron Eckhart). After a fatal accident eighteen months ago leaves the Asher family in tatters, the disgraced Banning is pushed back to a side-line government role. Meanwhile at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, a clan of highly skilled North Korean terrorists infiltrate the world’s most fortified house without hiccup, and take the president hostage. Not only do they want American forces to withdraw their support for South Korea, they intend to use the States’ own nukes to turn the nation into a destitute wasteland. With the acting president, House Speaker Trumbull (Morgan Freeman), and the rest of Team America in dire straits, it’s left to the broad-shouldered Banning to use his Intel and military expertise to save the President – nay, the world – as we know it.

With the spin surrounding a potential North Korea nuclear attack, seeing this star-spangled, preposterously right wing American film is a little discomforting. Not because it is an intelligent and harrowingly coincidental portrayal of the current situation, but because one can imagine gun-toting Americans taking some sort of solace in this inherently prejudicial picture.

Directed by Training Day’s Antoine Fuqua, it’s a clunky, ‘one man vs. the world’ procedural which plays out like a deviant adaptation of Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six series, mixed together with Die Hard. Unlike Bruce Willis, Butler is so devoid of humour or charm that his boisterous action-hero shtick – not to mention a sketchy American accent – are excruciating.

Relying on bloodied fight sequences and shoddy CGI explosions, the supporting cast (including Oscar winning Melissa Leo) are given nothing in the way of a good script or space to show off their acting credentials. Instead, they’re left hanging off the screen looking either despondent or aghast. After stomaching this two-hour snooze fest – so drenched in American jingoism – I was beginning to share their pain.

★☆☆☆☆

Olympus Has Fallen is released in cinemas throughout the UK on April 17th.

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