Everyone knows by now that Antoine Fuqua‘s Olympus Has Fallen (Film District, 3.22) and Roland Emmerich‘s White House Down (Sony, 6.28) are both basically Die Hard in the White House (with supplemental action scenes happening in and around Washington, D.C.). Fuqua’s version opens three and a half weeks hence as well as three months prior to White House Down, which obviously gives it an edge. The New York press junket happens in 11 days.
For all I know Fuqua’s version is the one to see. To be fair, his reputation is actually pretty decent as far as ensemble action pieces (Training Day, Brooklyn’s Finest) are concerned. But it seems as if Olympus Has Fallen might be a little clunkier than White House Down because (a) fairly or unfairly, any film starring Gerard Butler is automatically suspected of being problematic because Butler has (with the exception of Coriolanus) starred in so much crap, (b) it costars Morgan Freeman as the Speaker of the House, and we all agree that Freeman has shot his wad as a wise, calm governmental authority figure (plus his hair is too white — he looks like Samuel L. Jackson in Django Unchained) and (c) it was shot in Shreveport, Louisiana, which indicates budgetary constraint and therefore a possible cheeseball quality.
Emmerich’s version will almost certainly look pricier, and it has a tonier, slicker-sounding cast (Jamie Foxx, Channing Tatum, Jason Clarke, Maggie Gyllenhaal) but let’s not go overboard here — it’s still a Roland Emmerich film.
Olympus Has Fallen synopsis: “When the White House (Secret Service Code: Olympus) is captured by a terrorist mastermind and the President (Aaron Eckhart) is kidnapped, disgraced former Secret Service Agent Mike Banning (Gerald Butler) finds himself trapped within the building. As the national security team scrambles to respond, they are forced to rely on Banning’s inside knowledge to help retake the White House, save the President, and avert an even bigger disaster.”
White House Down synopsis: “When a paramilitary group led by Stenz (Jason Clarke) take over the White House, John Cale (Channing Tatum) a Secret Service agent, must rescue the President of the United States James Sawyer (Jamie Foxx).
Buter peaked with his performances in Phantom of the Opera and as the muscular King Leonidas in 300, but then came the romantic flyweight flicks (P.S. I love You, The Ugly Truth, Playing for Keeps) plus Law Abiding Citizen, The Bounty Hunter, Machine Gun Preacherand Chasing Mavericks, which nobody even saw. Preacher, I think, was the straw that broke the camel’s back.