Saving the President and free-world democracy? No sweat!
“With all due respect, I am the best hope you’ve got”, says Gerard Butler’s ex-special forces-cum-ex-privileged Presidential security head to a room full of serious decision makers which includes – as movies like these often do – Morgan Freeman as the acting President of the United States of America. By now, as the audience knows, he has a point there.
As it happens with movies like Olympus Has Fallen – the best so far of this year’s Die Hard fellowship (which I fear, has ample camaraderie this year) – you can’t go wrong with a major actor playing infallible commando against odds.
Mr. Butler (partially-like John McClane and very much like every emotionally shattered hero) finds himself infiltrating the severely crippled White House as the President, played by Aaron Eckhart, lies handcuffed in a locked-out bunker with a bunch of stern, single-minded terrorists from North Korea.
The Prime Minister of South Korea (Keong Sim) is one of the first to get the bullet, because of course, the terrorists have to confirm that they mean business (like ransacking the President’s house and keeping the military at bay isn’t enough?).
However, my gripe with the movie isn’t that severe, because it delivered exactly what it promised. It is a full-on action flick that owes little to logic but still manages to give credibility to whatever inanity it has in mind (or on the screenplay’s page). In a way accepting this makes rooting for Mr. Butler an easier endeavor.
As the one-man-army inside the house, Mr. Butler delivers the goods – and that too, in constant succession. A few heavy punches here, a few slight punch-lines there, a few knife stabs in the neck and Mr. Butler is good to go.
Apart from Mr. Butler, Mr. Freeman and Mr. Eckhart, there’s also Angela Basset, Dylan McDermott, a thoroughly wasted (and almost unrecognizable) Melissa Leo and a grumpy Robert Forster.
There’s also Ashley Judd as the American first lady, who bites the big one when the President’s car skids off the ice en-route from Camp David (Mr. Eckhart is saved by Mr. Butler, ergo the emotional shattered aspect of the story).
The villain today is Rick Yune, a very wanted North Korean terrorist named Kang, now working inside the South Korean Prime Minister’s Detail (meaning, their security envoy). As your layman terrorist, Kang wants the US to take their troops away from a particular geography, with an after-thought plan to detonate all the warheads in the US; upon his success, I believe he has world peace on his mind.
Antoine Fuqua, whose last prominent directorial credit is the Mark Wahlberg starrer The Shooter, works the material with grave solemnity and the sincerity actually helps sell the package (the initial and rightly expanded air and ground siege is worth the price of admission alone). There are moments, especially from the middle-act to the climax- where the film shifts a gear or two back, but this doesn’t affect the predictability of the outcome. Besides, who actually in their right mind expects ingenious turns in 100-terrorists-vs-one-tough-wise-cracking-anti-terrorist-hero flicks?
Directed by Antoine Fuqua; Written by Creighton Rothenberger and Katrin Benedikt; Cinematography by Conrad W. Hall; Edited by John Refoua; Production design by Derek R. Hill; Produced by Alan Siegel, Gerard Butler, Ed Cathell III and Danny Lerner.
Starring: Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Finley Jacobsen, Dylan McDermott, Rick Yune, Morgan Freeman, Angela Bassett, Melissa Leo, Ashley Judd, Robert Forster, Radha Mitchell, Cole Hauser, Malana Lea and Keong Sim. “Olympus Has Fallen” is released by HKC and Film District. The film is rated “R” .