A well coordinated assault on the White House leads to the president (Aaron Eckhart) being taken hostage by a Korean terrorist group. Fearing the worst might happen to the commander in chief, American forces must leave any rescue attempts to a lone secret service agent (Gerard Butler) trapped inside.
We say, “U.S.A! U.S.A! U.S.A! U.S.A!”
TAYLOR: This is a melodramatic propaganda piece disguised as an action flick. They should have left a small American flag flapping in the lower right hand corner of the screen, like a logo. I knew we were in for trouble within the first 30 seconds of the film. In fact, you could tell its intentions by the overzealous music.
HOWE: That’s because it’s an action suspense movie. They could hardly have gone with Pop goes the Weasel playing in the background, could they now? I liked it. It had everything you would come to expect from these style of films: lots of gunfire, large explosions, big sound score, and the reliable friend who turns out to be one of the bad guys… you didn’t see that coming.
TAYLOR: When the North Koreans were getting in there, then talking about some of the reasons for their taking this action in the first place, I started hoping they would be successful. The things that were supposed to make me root for the “good guys” actually had the opposite effect on me. This is largely due to my own politics, but even considered objectively, the film must take the brunt of the blame. The film is blatant in its ideology.
HOWE: Calm down Mr. Taylor. So what if it’s about patriotism? Do what I do at these sorts of movies, plop your friend in the seat next to you and enjoy Olympus for what it is. I didn’t even mind the fact that you had just one ex-secret service agent taking on 30-odd terrorists and ending up with only a slight scratch. If Steven Seagal can do it on a boat or train, why not Butler in the White House?
TAYLOR: Fair enough, Mr. Howe. Sometimes I get on my soapbox. Let me put it this way: There is a lot of violence in this film, a lot of graphic killing of men and a few women, using various weapons or techniques. If this is the variety of action you prefer, by all means, enjoy Olympus Has Fallen. The killing is well captured. But I am unable to get past the setting of the film. The plot is determined by the characters being who they are, rather than what they do. I didn’t care about one of the nearly 100 people I saw die on screen. When you then throw in the threat of a nuclear countdown, it’s the 1980s all over again. Without fear and pride, this film goes nowhere.
— Taylor gives Olympus Has Fallen 2 White House sacks out of 5.
— Howe gives it 3.5 secret passages out of 5.
The film is currently showing at Galaxy Cinemas in Vernon.
— Brian Taylor and Peter Howe are movie reviewers based in Vernon, B.C. Their column, Reel Reviews, appears in The Morning Star every Friday and Saturday.