There are a few characters we find difficult to forget. One of them might be that NYPD detective John McClane makes more than just an impact in a Los Angeles skyscraper. It was Die Hard and spanned four sequels, the last one being the most critically panned edition. The first of the series was one of those movies which ruled my childhood, and what Olympus Has Fallen managed to do is to remind me of that one. It is not really a bad thing, as Die Hard never really had a deserving sequel, and this one could have been the closest to being the same. There are terrorists of different nationalities, the setting and the type of building vary by a heavy margin and both the hostages and the redeemer are different, other than that, there might seem a similarity in style and the attitude of the hero in both these movies. With the support of the new technology and the experience gained by the new age movie makers, this one has almost become a worthy successor, not just by the skills, but also by divine providence. This movie’s story is actually an opportunity to die hard, not just for the redeemer, but also for the terrorists – both sides have their own chances, as they have chosen to take the risk.
The name was the first thing to catch my attention. There is something “fallen”, long time after I hear that word, for the second movie of Transformers had it in the name, and so do we hear it relating to the fallen angels of the firmament. But it is not someone who has fallen this time, for it is something. Just for a moment, forgetting the fact that Mount Olympus is also the name of a mountain in the Washington state, lets go to the other Mount Olympus whom we are more familiar about, the highest mountain in Greece, hailed in Greek mythology as the dwelling place of the Twelve Olympian gods of the ancient Greek world ruled over by the most powerful God of thunder and lightning, Zeus himself. According to the writing of the legendary writer Homer, Olympus was that great and divine that it was not shaken by winds nor was wet with rain, and never did snow fall upon it. So it was said about the abode of the twelve; Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Demeter, Athena, Dionysus, Apollo, Artemis, Ares, Aphrodite, Hephaestus and Hermes, and here we have another Olympus, another seat of supreme power, the White House of the United States.
The hero of the story and another form of John McClane is Mike Banning (Gerard Butler), the lead Secret Service agent assigned with the United States President Benjamin Asher (Aaron Eckhart) whose wife dies in an accident – an incident which Banning fails to prevent even as he manages to save the President’s life. Eighteen months later, Banning works at the Treasury Department, not separated by the scars of the incident which blinded his senses. But he is still not separated from his skills. His office is not too far away from the White House and lives a quiet life with his wife Leah (Radha Mitchell) after being demoted. Meanwhile, during a meeting between the heads of the United States and South Korea, Korean-led guerrilla forces, aided by some people from the inside itself, launch a perfectly planned air and ground attack which surprises and even shocks the defence and leads to the capture of the White House. The ease with which they achieves this rather surprising, and the deaths which occur in this assault, especially of civilians is more of a thing of terror than strangeness.
Asher and several top officials are held hostage in the White House bunker, where the South Korean prime minister is killed by the same terrorists. The attack has been lead by Kang Yeonsak (Rick Yune), a wanted terrorist wishing for a reunification of Korea. He wishes to force the United States army to withdraw from Korea. He also wants to detonate all of America’s nuclear weapons in their own soil and destroy the country by turning it into a nuclear wasteland, but for this, he will need a few access codes, and in achieving this, he will go to any limit, murder being just a simple thing of no significance. Meanwhile, Banning manages to get into the White House, and begins his own mission of saving the President’s son who might be somewhere in the house and murdering the terrorists one by one before finally rescuing all the captives including the President himself. It is his miracle and his second chance given by fate on the way to redemption, his chance to become another John McClane, into which this character successfully transforms into. In the objective, he is aided by Allan Trumbull (Morgan Freeman), the Speaker of the House and the Acting President through earphone.
Gerard Butler is at his best since his King Leonidas of 300; as he improves upon Gamer & unleashes the new action hero who is likable to most of the audience if not all of them. Mike Banning is the new John McClane, and there is no point in the movie where you can doubt it with full heart. He saves the day, and his world as well as of others, and he is alone in this job. He looks vulnerable on so many occasions, and is still strong throughout. He had his ups and downs in life and career. He has more courage and love for action than anybody else – he wishes to die hard. Radha Mitchell’s role as his wife is limited, and Morgan Freeman’s role is not that much as expected considering the posters. Rick Yune’s villains is successful without doubt, not in the mission but with the audience. Aaron Eckhart’s President works quite well. The best thing is that there is no silly romance, and even the screentime for married couple discussing future is pretty much low. There is no slowness in the movie, and even when the situation seem to calm down, there is a certain amount of thrilling factor ready to explode.
The movie can be termed as unrealistic and violent as most of the others of the same genre, but there are limits which the movie hasn’t crossed, those which have contributed to the success of this movie for the common audience. Still the dose of patriotism and CGI might be a little high. The action and the blood reminds one of more than one first person shooters of the 2000s, for I shall not speak about 2010s and what is to come later. But, this is no computer game – still, the destruction is immense, not just with the bombing and shooting, but also with the two people of fearlessness on both sides, of good and evil, of saving and destroying. There might be less memorable dialogues in this one considering what one should be expecting, but the avoidance of unnecessary dialogues also contributes to the success of this movie, for it rests on Gerard Butler’s character as what he is, rather than what he pretends to be, and what he appears to be. In that case, he is better than John McClane, even if not more interesting for the masses. The fall of the Olympus is one thing and the rise of the titan is another, and that titan in Butler as Banning, for he has to achieve what the Olympian gods couldn’t, not by fighting them or himself, but by saving his own Olympus from the common outsider enemy.
As the upcoming movie White House Down also seems to deal with the same theme of a takeover of the White House, one has to wait and see which one ends up being superior. But for now, Olympus Has Fallen keeps the title of being the movie which has taken this theme to new heights. Even as it is more of a Die Hard happening in White House, there is no point where this can be seen as a thing of lesser energy or imagination. There has been no creativity which was left in the gutters with this movie, as it had that impressive style of taking the audience by surprise, at least in this part of the world where this is to be considered as a highly under-rated and a not much screened movie. The presence of the new 3D version of Jurassic Park and G. I. Joe: Retaliation‘s hesitation to leave might be the main reasons. But as even Life of Pi hasn’t really left some of the theatres here, there is surely no surprise about. But the fact remains that it is time these movies get their due, even if they are not hyped enough and has no stars who are popular enough in this part of the world.
Release date: 22nd March 2013 (USA); 5th April 2013 (India)
Running time: 120 minutes
Directed by: Antoine Fuqua
Starring: Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Morgan Freeman, Angela Bassett, Cole Hauser, Ashley Judd, Melissa Leo, Dylan McDermott, Radha Mitchell, Rick Yune
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