If you’re going to be stuck with a shitty movie, you want it to stink so badly that it becomes “funny.” You want people talking back at the screen, throwing empty drink containers and making howling-coyote noises. Then we can all relax and have a good time. I’ve enjoyed this kind of film. It’s a perfectly legitimate form of entertainment.
But there are two kinds of funny-bad. The first is when the actors convey to the audience that they know they’re in a turkey and that it’s cool for everyone to start hooting and making jokes. The second is when they seem to be conveying sincere belief in the material and are trying as best they can to sell it on a genuine level. Then it’s not that funny because you’re feeling tremendous sympathy, or more exactly pity. Don’t these guys realize they’re hurting themselves by acting in this piece of shit and looking like cheap whores?
I’m sorry to say that Olympus Has Fallen is the second kind of bad. I wish it were otherwise. At best it has three or four good laughs and, okay, one of them (a sight gag involving the nation’s 16th President) is intentional. Otherwise it’s a low-budget, Shreveport-y, ultra-sadistic bullshit video-game version of a Die Hard-in-the-White House movie.
The main problems are (a) Gerard Butler‘s simplistic, one-note performance as White House secret service man Mike Bannon — all the wit and charisma of a linebacker in an NFL game, (b) sedative-style dialogue, (c) a mystifying devotion to wheezy cliches (a rugged defrocked hero gets to redeem himself through acts of manly valor, the supportive, teary-eyed wife following the hero’s saga from the sidelines, a coolly sadistic criminal mastermind, a middle-aged American turncoat in league with the baddies, a billowing American flag and the sound of crisp military drums during opening credits), (c) too many boot-kickings, (d) too many tough guys going “whugh!” and “uggh!” and “mughh!” as they fight hand to hand, (e) too many generic orange-fireball explosions and (f) way, way too many bullets fired.
I explained in my “Ten Shot Rule” piece that the fewer bullets fired in an action film, the better it tends be and vice versa. (The rule was based on Shane firing only about ten bullets.) Antoine Fuqua, the director of Olympus Has Fallen, never heard of the ten-shot rule. He seems to believe in an opposite equation. The more brutality, the better. And better still if you throw in several bad-ass, well-armed Koreans who know from martial arts.
In my 1.8.13 review of Ruben Fleischer‘s Gangster Squad , I reported that 478,446 machine-gun bullets are fired in that Warner Bros. film. I brought my counter to yesterday’s screening and Olympus Has Fallen fires off 512,754 bullets. If Fuqua had only kept the count down to 100,000 or less…if he only knew the value of restraint.
The film industry needs to take a restraining order on the guys who wrote this thing — Creighton Rothenberger and Katrin Benedikt. I’m serious. Or…whatever, invade their homes at 4:30 am and arrest them, put them in chains, put black hoods over their heads, drive them out to the desert and lock them into an underground jail cell and keep them there for a minimum of 18 months.
And talk about fallen — Fuqua has stabbed himself in the head with this thing. Olympus Has Fallen is at least four or five levels below John McTiernan‘s Die Hard. It’s like some kind of factory-level exploitation film made by the second cousins of Danny and Oxide Pang.
The fake White House (apparently built somewhere in Shreveport) looks like a fake White House. The front lawn is too small. The first-floor windows don’t look right.
The great Melissa Leo is beaten up and made to scream and howl and utterly humiliate herself. What was she thinking? She won her Oscar for The Fighter so she could collect a paycheck to act in a film like this? To what end? Mortgage payments?
The film starts [NON-SPOILER because it’s in the trailer] with a mindless car-accident scene in which future Democratic candidate for U.S. Senator from Kentucky Ashley Judd, playing the wife of Aaron Eckart‘s U.S. President, goes over the side of a bridge inside a limousine. At first the limo is teetering on the edge of the bridge Beetlejuice-style, and Butler rushes over to pull Eckhart and Judd out of the back seat. But Eckhart resists and holds his wife for a moment too long, and by the time Butler yanks him out it’s too late and Judd goes over the side. It is somehow decided that Butler allowed the First Lady to die so he’s subsequently taken off White House detail. Absolute nonsense.
Several months later Korean terrorists stage a ridiculous aerial attack on Washington, D.C. — blastaway, blastaway blastaway all! Into the valley of death rode the crazy Koreans! Good action sequences always stay within the realm of the somewhjat conceivable and never tip into the ridiculous, as this one does. Dut-ditty-dut-ditty-dut-ditty-dut-ditty-dut-dut-dut…budda-budda-budda-budda-budda-budda…BOOM! Bud-dut-dut-budda-DOOM!
The less said about the supporting performances by Morgan Freeman (who should never again play a Washington authority figure), Angela Bassett, Dylan McDermott, Robert Forster and Cole Hauser the better.
Here’s hoping this film doesn’t adversely affect Judd’s attempt to unseat Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. I want her to win.
The invaders are led by Kang (Rick Yune), a Korean terrorist in really good shape with a narrow waist and serious arm muscles and a big buffed-up chest. Every time Yune was on-screen I was silently sneering and going “you third-rate asshole and your cheap macho bullshit…Alan Rickman played almost the exact same character 25 years ago and here you going through the motions…you think you’re up to something cool and you’re not…putz.”