Film review: Olympus Has Fallen - a lumpy version of Die Hard but with Gerard Butler instead of Bruce Willis
I realise Bruce Willis can't be expected to carry the Die Hard franchise forever, but is Gerard Butler really the best substitute they can find? Because Olympus Has Fallen is a Die Hard picture in all but name, a slam-bang action thriller in which one man battles an impossible number of terrorists within a hijacked space to save America (and civilization with it).
Butler, almost eerily devoid of wit or charisma, plays Mike Banning, a US Secret Service agent who was on the President's security detail until a tragic accident got him demoted to a desk job.
Redemption is at hand, though, when the White House (codename: Olympus) is breached by a crack North Korean terrorist (Rick Yune) and his cohorts. How do they do this? By flying a very slow plane that lays waste to Washington DC and disguising their storm troops as tourists. Brilliant! Soon they have taken the President (Aaron Eckhart) and his staff hostage in the basement and demand American withdrawal from South Korea.
Nukes are suddenly in play. (The lumpy script by Creighton Rothenberger and Katrin Benedikt has topicality, if nothing else.) The film's big symbolic moment is the sight of a bullet-ridden Old Glory floating down on to the Presidential lawn.
During the mayhem, Banning somehow infiltrates the White House and sets about his rescue mission, proving to these Oriental marauders that nothing beats a dose of brutal American kick- ass. He even dispatches one of them by crushing his skull with a bust of Lincoln – can you get more patriotic than that?
The film keeps nodding to Die Hard, even featuring a "Bill Clay" moment when Banning appears to have been fooled by a dastardly turncoat, but Antoine Fuqua's direction falls way short of the template in both humour and tension. Yippee-kai-Nay, I'm afraid.
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