'Olympus Has Fallen' an apt name for action-thriller film - Omaha.com
go logo
article photo
article photo
This film image shows, from left, Aaron Eckhart, Gerard Butler, Finley Jacobsen, Angela Bassett and Robert Forster in a scene from "Olympus Has Fallen."(FILMDISTRICT)


'Olympus Has Fallen' an apt name for action-thriller film
By Dave Croy / World-Herald staff writer


“Olympus Has Fallen” wants to be the kind of superthriller that keeps you on the edge of your seat and sends you from the theater chatting with your companions about how awesome it was.

It also wants to be “Die Hard” (the original) and the TV series, “24,” right down to the caption typography at the lower left-hand corner of the screen that keeps the audience apprised of the location and the time of day.

It fails to live up to such lofty goals, and the reasons are as apparent as the plot elements and character-types it appropriates liberally from the movie and the show.

Following an opening setup that introduces the main characters and creates something of a backstory for them, “Olympus” rockets into the present, with a thoroughly dazzling terrorist attack on the White House. This sequence is brilliantly choreographed and shot. Aircraft fall from the sky, heavy-caliber tracer ammunition turns buildings into Swiss cheese, innocent bystanders drop in hordes, vehicles explode and monuments fall.

Unfortunately, this is the best part of the movie. As for the rest ...

Well, if you've seen “Die Hard” or “24,” you've seen the rest. The main premise is that terrorists hold the president hostage (Aaron Eckhart, who basically thrashes and glowers his way through the movie with unbridled abandon) in an effort to force the government to do something it would not normally do. (This plot was one of the centerpieces in season seven of “24.”)

Or ... do the terrorists have something even more nefarious in mind? Hmmm ...

Enter our hero, tough, upright former presidential protector turned Treasury Department desk-jockey Michael Banning (Gerard Butler). His marriage is on shaky ground, he's seeking redemption for past failures, and, thanks to his Special Forces training, he's the one man who has a chance of stopping the bad guys.

The movie's problems really begin with the sturdy, long-striding Butler. He is not Bruce Willis, and his numerous wisecracks during the fray ring hollow. He is not Kiefer Sutherland, either. Butler is unable to convey the sort of crazily desperate obsessiveness that made Jack Bauer such a relatable hero for eight TV seasons of “24.” Butler's Banning is simply an unstoppable killing machine, giving the audience little doubt who will prevail.

In the suspense department, Butler gets little help from the writers or from director Antoine Fuqua. At least three strong subplots that might have significantly increased the dramatic tension are unsatisfyingly abandoned during the final half of the film. And the two main conceits of the terrorist plan are based on notions so patently false that they go way beyond a reasonable suspension of disbelief. (Unless you happen to buy that the U.S. government would do anything to save the life of the president, or that destroying a ballistic missile with conventional explosives would somehow cause the nuclear warhead to detonate!)

Angela Bassett is basically wasted in this film, as are Morgan Freeman and Robert Forster. Melissa Leo (“The Fighter”), as the fiercely patriotic and tough-as nails secretary of defense, delivers the lone standout performance.

“Olympus Has Fallen” more than earns an “R” rating, for almost nonstop, brutal, graphic violence. It was a good time but fell far short of being a great one.

We'll just have to wait until June 28 for “White House Down,” to see if director Roland Emmerich, Channing Tatum, and Jamie Foxx can take this story to the next level.


Contact the Omaha World-Herald newsroom


Copyright ©2014 Omaha World-Herald®. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, displayed or redistributed for any purpose without permission from the Omaha World-Herald.

Latest Stories

Coachella: Best of Day 1 includes The Replacements, Outkast
Coachella: Best of Day 1 includes The Replacements, Outkast

Rock Candy correspondents Joel Henriksen and Keith Finn check in from Indio to review Friday's top sets from the godfather of indie rock festivals.


What to watch: Series premiere of 'Tobacco Wars' on CMT
What to watch: Series premiere of 'Tobacco Wars' on CMT

Kentucky has some interesting industries: moonshine, ginseng and fire-cured tobacco. This series goes inside the high-stakes world starting with planting season.


Maha Music Festival announces lineup; might be its best yet
Maha Music Festival announces lineup; might be its best yet

August concert promises to pack Stinson Park with indie rock fans.


A saliva-inducing look at M's Pub's new happy hour
A saliva-inducing look at M's Pub's new happy hour

The downtown staple recently introduced a happy hour. And its menu's pretty amazing.


Dining review: If you're craving sushi, head to Benson's Taita
Dining review: If you're craving sushi, head to Benson's Taita

Chef Jose Dionicio has wisely refocused Taita on sushi, and the well-crafted small bites of fresh fish I tasted from his one-man sushi bar are delectable.


New Benson BBQ restaurant opens next week
New Benson BBQ restaurant opens next week

Fusion BBQ, at 7024 Maple St., focuses on American style barbecue cooking melded with international cuisines.


Nebraska's best burger determined by folks who know about this kind of thing
Nebraska's best burger determined by folks who know about this kind of thing

The Nebraska Beef Council announced the winner of its Nebraska's Best Burger contest.


Rockbrook Village restaurant Taste has a new chef
Rockbrook Village restaurant Taste has a new chef

Ryan Devitt will come to the restaurant as both a chef and partner to focus on farm-to-table style cuisine.


Over Easy will host a west Omaha block party
Over Easy will host a west Omaha block party

Over Easy is playing host to a west Omaha block party this summer.


Movie review: 'Transcendence' ends up quite ordinary
Movie review: 'Transcendence' ends up quite ordinary

“Transcendence,” a sci-fi thriller about an attempt to meld the human mind with technology, falls far short of transcendence. So far short I had to fight off sleep.


 
Search
Movies Opening this week

Movie showtimes and theater listings






Read this!








VIDEOS

Tonight in Prime Time
© 2014 Omaha World-Herald. All rights reserved