Butler stars as Mike Banning, an ex-Special Ops agent and former member of the president’s bodyguard who is removed from active duty (but given a desk job in the White House) after a tragic accident causing the death of the First Lady, Margaret (Ashley Judd). Not long afterward, a group of Korean terrorists takes control of the White House and holds the president hostage while the entire nation watches in fear… and while Banning, trapped in the White House as it is taken under siege, is left to fight the unwelcome invaders. Most definitely an action flick.
What I Liked
Asher and Conner, are heartbroken by the death of Margaret, and understandably so. But there is a quieter version of heroism here, as Asher does his best to put his fatherly duties before his presidential ones. Banning is depressed, stuck in a tedious desk job, looking for a chance to redeem himself. Yes, he did the right thing on the bridge that night Margaret died by taking care of the President first and foremost, but he is still under the scrutiny of almost all his former coworkers. He fights with ferocious resolve, however, for Conner and Asher, with whom he is still close friends and shares a special bond, and ends up saving them both.
What I Didn't So Much
There were lots and lots of guns, and quite a lot of blood, as can be expected in a rated R film. From the moment the assault on the White House (code named Olympus) begins, this movie is full of gun fights, hand to hand combat, grenades, RPGs, and the like. Planes crash, tourists are killed by debris, and Kang kills a handful of innocent people on live television wired to the Situation Room, where a few White House survivors aid Banning and try to stay survivors. Throats are slit, necks are broken, Banning kills two people in cold blood after interrogation, and often times there is gore to compliment the deaths. And, of course, we all get what we were expecting - the death of sarcastic, brutal, and overconfident Kang. There were just as many curses as could be expected in such a “war” film (not to say they’re excused, mind you), and the language was somewhat understandable, but still unenjoyable on my part.
One upside was that this movie was joyfully without inappropriate sexual scenes or innuendos, and the only instance of drug use was the occasional cigarette. No alcohol. Probably because all the focus went into making it as gory as possible, but still. Banning has a strained relationship with his wife, and we are led to believe that also is a result of his post-Margaret-accident despondency.
Poor North Korea… Now I’m not saying there’s no threat there, and I’m not going to get into the politics of it all, because I hate politics. As in, loathe entirely. Insert mental image of the Grinch here. But doesn’t it seem as if modern filmmakers like to make them the bad guys? Red Dawn, Die Hard (and the rest of them), Argo, Die Another Day, anyone?
Honestly, despite the obvious good messages in this movie, I had little love for Olympus Has Fallen, and would not recommend it, even to the most “mature of audiences.” Heroism and courageousness does not need to be taught in such a violent manner. Now, I don’t mind death or blood in movies (For Greater Glory, Braveheart, hello. Favorites.), but there comes a time when too much of that mixed with an imitative plot do not a good film make.
I would bequeath this movie .5 out of 3 for violence, language, and altogether unoriginality.
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