A second-rate “Die Hard” knock-off with Gerard Butler playing the Bruce Willis role, “Olympus Has Fallen” is preposterously overblown, an action movie that seems to prove the old saying: If brains were gunpowder, this movie wouldn’t have enough to blow its own nose.
Directed by Antoine Fuqua – who made the powerful “Training Day” and little of worth since – “Olympus” is the first of two films this year about terrorist attacks that take over the White House. The other is from schlockmeister Roland Emmerich so, well, there’s that.
In this one, written by newcomers Creighton Rothenberger and Katrin Benedikt (but, really, formed by connecting the dots on a template), Butler is a Secret Service agent, Mike Banning, who in the first scene, is shown sparring in a boxing ring with the president, Benjamin Asher (Aaron Eckhart). They’re at Camp David and, given the instructions that Banning gives to his boss about how to defend and attack, you would logically expect that, at some later point in the movie, the president would be put into a position in which this advice would come in handy. Why else would it be in there?
But – and I won’t even say spoiler alert here – nope, no follow-up. Sort of like the rest of the movie.
The beginning of the movie provides the set-up for the rest of the film: On a snowy night, the president and his wife (future Kentucky senator Ashley Judd) are speeding back to Washington for a Christmas eve fundraiser (yeah, right) when the icy conditions send their car into a spin. The car hangs precariously off a bridge and Banning can only save one: the president or his wife. And his duty is to the president.
Cut to a year later: Banning is stuck at a desk job at the Treasury Department (which, of course, is the branch to which the Secret Service is attached). He did the right thing that fateful night – but the president can’t have him around as his personal bodyguard because it reminds him too much of his dead wife. And because, when the actual plot erupts, Banning will be in exactly the right place to be the only man who can … save America!
This review continues on my website.