Olympus Has Fallen
by Michael Walters
The Cantankerous Critic
“Olympus Has Fallen” would have to get a lot smarter just to be charitably called dumb. It is in fact one of the mind numbingly inane movies of the year, and this year that’s really saying something.
The plot is simple enough. It’s a sort of “Die Hard” in the White House. Terrorists seize the Oval Office, along with the Commander In Chief, and only Gerard Butler can stop them. Butler is a former top Secret Service agent who slips in during the terrorist siege, and becomes America’s only hope to save the country from a nuclear holocaust and a North Korean madman bent on reuniting his country under communist rule.
The first hour or so is just plain stupid, opening with Butler trading blows with Aaron Eckhart in what looks like the presidential boxing arena. After Butler fails to prevent a tragedy that results in the death of the First Lady, he’s sent into exile at the Treasury Department. That is, until the North Koreans invade.
The film sets up its terrorist siege with average special effects and some wholesale melodrama. But once Butler gets inside the White House, the miscalculations and implausibility became so hard to ignore, I began to bury my head in my hands, aghast at what I was witnessing.
Supposedly an entire army of North Koreans has taken down the White House, but there are never more than two of them in one place; allowing Butler to take them down while crowing about how well trained and prepared they are. The only thing worse than the idiotic plot is the dialogue which spins its narrative wheels, trying to find different ways for Gerard Butler to drop F-bombs on his adversaries.
Director Antoine Fuqua applies the patriotic imagery and jingoistic themes with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer. It’s not just the long slow-motion shots of a tattered American flag flapping in the wind. Butler actually beats a North Korean to death with a bust of Abraham Lincoln. By the end, I was happy to be emancipated from the theater the second those credits rolled.