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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Apr 21, 2013

Olympus Has Fallen Movie Review: First Of Two Hollywood Thrillers About Attack On The White House

GERARD Butler has had no big hit since “300”, what with him doing flop rom coms like “Ugly Truth” and “Bounty Hunter” and forgettable flicks like “Coriolanus”, “Playing for Keeps” and “Chasing Mavericks”. He now breathes new life into his lackluster career with a minor hit in the action-thriller, “Olympus Has Fallen”, which is about the White House being attacked by terrorists.

Since this is a jingoistic flick like “Red Dawn”, “Die Hard” series, “Independence Day” and the movies of Chuck Norris, this borders on the preposterous but just sit back and enjoy the ride since it’s quite timely what with North Korea doing some saber-rattling in real life, plus the Boston bombing.

Butler plays Mike Banning, the most trusted security agent of U.S. President Asher (Aaron Eckhart) and he’s a very good friend of the president’s son, Connor (child actor Findley Jacobsen.) But when the First Lady (Ashley Judd in a small role) dies in an accident on an icy road in Camp David on Christmas Eve, he is demoted to a desk job.

18 months later, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is attacked by staggeringly well organized North Korean paramilitary (whose goal is to unite the two Koreas) and there’s destruction on an epic scale. It becomes Mike’s task to help the president’s son escape from the terrorists and go back to later rescue the president himself. While watching this flick, we can’t help but think: where’s Jack Bauer?

In fairness to Director Antoine Fuqua (“Training Day”), he manages to make it work and maintain a high level of tension throughout. Most hardcore action lovers will be satisfied with the well staged adrenalin and testosterone-filled shoot outs, what with Banning truly homicidal and ruthless in dispatching his foes to up the level of violence. The chief terrorist, Kang (Rick Yune), a North Korean (no problem antagonizing North Korea since Hollywood movies are not shown there anyway), has anticipated everything except the presence of Banning, who will surely make Liam Neeson of “Taken” proud. Butler and the entire supporting cast play it all straight to make the movie work, including Melissa Leo as the bludgeoned defense secretary and Morgan Freeman as the beleaguered house speaker (they’re both also in “Oblivion”) and other supporting cast members like Robert Forster, Cole Hauser, Radha Mitchell, Dylan McDermott and Angela Bassett.

Some of the special effects are good, like the destruction of the iconic Washington Monument, but there are scenes where the CGI seems not to have been rendered completely, especially the ill lighted night scenes inside the White House that also suffer from bad color timing. This is not really part of the big U.S. summer releases. There is a similar movie that will be released, “White House Down”, with a big budget and starring Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx.