Butler cleans house with macho aplomb in ‘Olympus’
Updated: March 21, 2013 3:54PM
‘Olympus Has Fallen’
North Korea posted a video the other day of long-range missile to destroying the White House. Well, director Antoine Fuqua puts that movie to shame with “Olympus Has Fallen,” which depicts an apparently independent Korean paramilitary group attacking, virtually destroying and capturing the White House.
For a little while, anyway.
You can’t fault “Olympus” when it comes to delivering the adrenaline-pumping, ultra-violent, action-movie goods. Sure, it’s a little heavy-handed when it comes to stirring up patriotic outrage. That starts early with an artfully composed shot of Korean commandos lowering the bullet-riddled White House flag and hurling it contemptuously, in fluttery slow motion, to the ground — and there’s even a scene of the Secretary of Defense (Melissa Leo) being dragged off to be shot while reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. And it doesn’t help that the bad guys are depicted as treacherous, sadistic, inhuman scum. It’s enough that they’re the enemy. They don’t have to be turned into descendants of the evil Fu Manchu.
That’s all forgotten, though, whenever we get back to the main event: Gerard Butler, effectively channeling Bruce Willis for a full-tilt, “Die Hard” in the White House macho fest.
Butler (who also produced the film) plays Secret Service agent Mike Banning, who’s been transferred to the Treasury Department after a tragic mishap resulting in the death of the First Lady. It’s not that President (Aaron Eckhart) blames Mike; he just doesn’t want him around to remind him of his wife. But he’s going to have cause to re-think that real soon.
Banning happens to be driving past 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue just as it’s attacked by a C-130 cargo plane retrofitted with hi-tech weaponry, a handful of suicide bombers, a garbage truck with a heavy machine gun and a swarm of commandos. It’s an exceedingly bloody attack (innocent civilians are strafed just out of meanness) that wipes out the entire White House security force. Except for Mike, that is, who joins the fight and manages to slip inside, where he proceeds to take out the bad guys one by one. With considerable style, it should be said, thanks to his credible chops as an action hero and Fuqua’s skill at sustaining tension throughout the long siege.
Unfortunately, he can’t get at Kang (Rick Yune), their particularly inhuman, America-hating leader. That’s because he’s down in the emergency bunker below the White House, holding the president and key staff members hostage while demanding withdrawal of the 7th Fleet and all American troops from Korea’s demilitarized zone —and planning to vaporize the country as a topper.
Of course, that’s a temporary situation. The last time they chatted on the White House phone system, Mike promised to stick a knife in his brain when they finally meet mano-a-mano.
And he’s clearly the type of guy who always keeps his word.