While Antoine Fuqua’s Olympus Has Fallen offers many ridiculous moments, the standout involves a recent Oscar winner being dragged across the White House floor to her likely death. Struggling with her terrorist captors, she opts to make her patriotism known by, of all things, reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. It’s an awkward scene, one that suggests it was a written by someone raised in an institution on a steady diet of propaganda, yet represents the norm in this painfully out of touch action extravaganza. Intended to instill some good old American pride through a wealth of Korean blood-letting, the film presents a dangerous xenophobic outlook intertwined with blind rah-rah nationalism of the worst kind and makes the U.S. look terrible in the process.
As former Presidential guard Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) goes on a one-man killing spree to rescue kidnapped President Asher (Aaron Eckhart, scowling like Harvey Dent), he carries the hopes of the free world with him. Why shouldn’t he? After all, the kidnappers have shot up the streets of D.C., taken out every pistol-packing White House employee, and are holding the globe hostage. The bad guys in question are unsurprisingly the trendy villains of the moment, the North Koreans, though in an effort to deflect too precise a target, the film paints them as rogues expelled from their country.
In a smarter film, that kind of cop-out might have worked. The base bloodlust of Olympus Has Fallen, however, encourages viewers to hate foreign faces and gives them copious reasons to wish for their heads on stakes. The numerous shots of militants putting bullets through America’s Finest is clearly meant to get one’s blood boiling, as is the removal of the Stars and Stripes from atop the nation’s most famous residence. Unfortunately, neither compare to the actions undertaken by Kang (Rick Yune) and his dehumanized cronies once they’re sealed in the Presidential bunker.
Zero Dark Thirty may have its controversial “enhanced interrogation techniques,” but there was an intentional moral grayness to those scenes that played a crucial role in an intelligent film. The Olympus Has Fallen equivalents are cruel and gratuitous with no purpose other than to amplify the villains’ evil, thereby justifying Banning’s bloody rampage. That’s an unsettling worldview, especially when it gives rise to such a moment as Banning’s promise to stick a knife through his adversary’s brain, a line whose lone intent is for the audience to raucously cheer him on. Working the crowd into a patriotic frenzy for the sake of cheap thrills, the film celebrates a woefully ignorant mindset and, even worse, does so under a blame-proof guise.
Not helping matters are debut screenwriters Creighton Rothenberger and Katrin Benedikt patting themselves on the backs for meeting a blatant diversity quota. With the addition of each minority leader, be it Vice President Charlie Rodriguez (Phil Austin), Speaker of the House Martin Trumbull (Morgan Freeman), or Secretary of Defense Ruth McMillan (Melissa Leo), the writers overtly strain for a level of melting pot equality that they’re unwilling to extend toward their foreign devils. Try as they may, none of these name brands escape unscathed, though Ashley Judd obviously knew what she was doing when her First Lady exited before the ten minute mark. If only this reviewer had done the same.
Rated R for strong violence and language throughout.
Olympus Has Fallen is currently playing at the Carolina Cinemas on Hendersonville Rd.
Your article was not a review. It was a political statement. Oplympus Has Fallen is nothing but a fun action adventure movie. A cross between Airforce One and Die Hard. It has a wonderful cast of actors all of which did a great job.
The good guys won in the movie and Im sorry you didn’t like that but why is it that every time I read a movie review in Asheville the critic has to make a political statement?
I have produced several TV shows, documentries, and commercials for Charter Media and others. Rick’s Racing Report, Asphalt Surfers, Ghosts of 1898, and over 90 commercials and have never interjected my political beliefs in my job.
If your job is to be a movie critic of what makes a movie then please do your job and don’t bring in your politcal beliefs. People will then take you seriously.