Film Review: ‘Olympus Has Fallen’

Gerard Butler (tries to) play Bruce Willis in the "Die Hard" ripoff "Olympus Has Fallen," out today. Credit: Phillip V. Caruso
Gerard Butler (tries to) play Bruce Willis in the “Die Hard” ripoff “Olympus Has Fallen,” out today.
Credit: Phillip V. Caruso

‘Olympus Has Fallen’
Director: Antoine Fuqua
Stars: Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart
Rating: R
3 (out of 5) Globes

In “Olympus Has Fallen,” a “Die Hard” in the White House deal, the president (Aaron Eckhart) is kidnapped by terrorists and only a secret service agent (Gerard Butler) can save the day (and America, and the world). As it happens, that’s also the plot of “White House Down,” due in June. Hollywood is a well-oiled machine, but it sporadically forcefeeds us the same thing twice almost simultaneously. 1998, infamously, saw dueling killer asteroid pics (“Deep Impact,” “Armageddon”) and two animated films about bugs (“Antz,” “A Bug’s Life”).

As ever, it would’ve been ideal had the two productions pooled their resources. “White House Down” has Channing Tatum as our Bruce Willis-y lone hero, Jamie Foxx as the president plus other overqualified thespians (Maggie Gyllenhaal, Richard Jenkins). But it also has director Roland Emmerich (“Independence Day”). Butler is no Tatum, but “Olympus” also boasts Morgan Freeman, Angela Bassett, even freakin’ Melissa Leo.

At least it’s not bloated. Emmerich is a tiresome super-sizer. “Olympus Has Fallen” director Antoine Fuqua (“Training Day”) is tough and good with actors. The screenplay is old school in the way it dreams up almost-plausible ways to keep its plot going, and smart enough to quickly fix developments it never should have created (like briefly saddling Butler with the President’s kid). After a gory, brutal siege, Butler finds himself roaming the White House, dispatching baddies, who are part of a moneyed rogue North Korean terrorist organization. As with last year’s “Red Dawn” remake, those from an impoverished nation raised enough cash to fund a pricey assault on the world’s mightiest superpower.

Their invasion of one of the world’s most impregnable fortresses yields the requisite sporadic “America, F—k Yeah!” fist-pumps and superimposed shots of Old Glory, even though our hero is a Scotsman. Butler is a man’s man asskicker fixed with a lame motivational backstory: he was unable to save the First Lady (Ashley Judd) during an accident in which there was no way she wouldn’t die. But he’s a humorless brute and, to the point, no Bruce Willis, particularly when he tries to be. To its credit, the film wisely cuts away from him: to the War Room, where Freeman and Bassett collect paychecks; and to the President’s Bunker, where Leo proves her Oscar mettle by getting beaten-up and undressed while shrieking The Pledge of Allegiance. It’s a diverting mess that would have been less entertaining if it had been more competent.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Federal mediator joins Met Opera labor talks as…

Unions representing the orchestra and chorus of the Met Opera agreed to have a federal mediator join labor talks on Thursday as a threatened lockout loomed.

Local

Winning $7 million New York lottery ticket sold…

The only $7 million winning New York Lottery ticket for Monday's Cash4Life drawing was sold at a Queens 7-Eleven, officials said on Tuesday.

Local

Brooklyn man charged in roommate's stabbing death

A Brooklyn man accused of violently stabbing his roommate to death on Monday is in police custody and faces murder charges.

International

Dinosaurs could have survived asteroid strike

It turns out there is a good and a bad time for the planet to be hit by a meteor, and dinosaurs were just unlucky.…

Movies

Review: 'Guardians of the Galaxy' is a refreshingly…

Marvel is sitting so high on a cash mountain that it's now thrown $170 million at the relatively obscure and very silly title "Guardians of the Galaxy."

Movies

Review: 'Get on Up' is a war between…

James Brown finally gets his own boring biopic with "Get on Up," but the Godfather of Soul puts up a good fight against the usual cliches.

Movies

Review: 'Child of God' finds director James Franco…

James Franco's 11th directed feature is a noble but sloppy adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's "Child of God," about a feral mountain man (Scott Haze).

Movies

Review: Alex Gibney's Fela Kuti doc 'Finding Fela'…

Prolific documentarian Alex Gibney takes on Afrobeat god Fela Kuti in "Finding Fela," but fails to capture his unique essence.

MLB

Yankees land Stephen Drew, Martin Prado at trade…

Yankees land Stephen Drew, Martin Prado at trade deadline

College

Playing the Field: Valentine's Day coupling edition

  It’s Valentine’s Day, a day created by Hallmark to make couples spend loads and loads of money on candy, flowers and gourmet dinners. Or…

MLB

Angelo Cataldi: Ryan Howard deserves better from Phillies

Just last week, Ryan Howard endured the embarrassment of a benching that was inevitable, and yet still shocking.

NFL

Larry Donnell has inside track in Giants tight…

Little-known Larry Donnell of Grambling State currently has the inside track, as the second-year player has received the bulk of the first-team reps.

Career

What do you wear to a career fair?…

Getting that gig starts with presenting the most polished and memorable version of yourself, so refer to our expert fashion advice.

Style

Editors pick: Margiela's finger armor ring

These cool rings from Maison Martin Margiela are designed to overlap over the finger, covering each joint like armor.

Style

Givenchy champions diversity

Riccardo Tisci's uses a variety of ethnically diverse ladies for his spring campaign including Erykah Badu.

Wellbeing

Don't settle for the hotel fitness center with…

Travelers who want to skip the hotel fitness center in favor of local gyms that may offer better equipment, classes and amenities can turn to…