Everybody wants to attack the White House this year.
Olympus Has Fallen is the first feature out of the gate involving a take-down of the symbolic home of democracy, and there’s another go in a few months when White House Down hits theatres. Both films involve strong casts and explosive action, so it looks as if an extended siege is underway at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
Olympus Has Fallen makes it all look easy. The film is a tension-fuelled, high stakes battle that sees Washington, D.C. under attack and the president (Aaron Eckhart) kidnapped inside his own house, along with the VP and the secretary of defence (Melissa Leo). A rogue Korean group has decided to take world affairs into their own hands, and the withdrawal of protective U.S. troops from South Korea is their primary demand. They are willing to kill any number of high-ranking officials to get what they want.
The bad guys also have an ingenious plan to take advanced U.S. weapons and national defence initiatives and turn them against the American people. Evil and smart, you might say. Thank goodness a disgraced presidential guard has found a way to sneak into the White House and fight back. Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) has been bounced down to a desk job for a tragedy that wasn’t his fault, but here’s a chance to exercise his sense of responsibility and make up for it anyway; his loyalties still lie with the president, and he becomes a one-man fighting machine, determined to save an entire nation.
Laugh if you will (and you will), but this is the kind of exercise in extreme macho that does very big box office. With his gun and his fists, Banning fights his way into the White House and finds a way to save the day — but only after extraordinary amounts of bloodshed, hand to hand combat and brutal violence.
Filmmaker Antoine Fuqua built a mock-up of the White House somewhere in the wilds of Louisiana, so when things blow up in the movie there’s a rush involved that only verisimilitude can offer. Not all the effects are brilliant, but the fighting and attack scenes are filmed with Fuqua’s eye for spectacle and beauty, so the movie is always engaging to look at.
There’s all this - plus Morgan Freeman, Angela Bassett, Dylan McDermott and Rick Yune wandering around in the story. It’s barely spring, but blockbuster season would appear to be officially open.
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