Olympus Has Fallen (2013, Antoine Fuqua)

You know what is a great action film? Die Hard. You know who obviously thinks it is, too? Antoine Fuqua.

His latest film, Olympus Has Fallen, is a hark back to Die Hard in every way except the bits that made that film such a classic. Instead of Nakatomi Plaza, the storyline takes place in the White House in which a group of North Korean terrorists take the president (Aaron Eckhart) and members of his staff hostage. And instead of unfortunately placed everyman, John McClane, it is up to trained killbot, Mike Banning (Gerard Butler), to save the day.

To give the film some credit, the initial attack on the White House is fairly entertaining and the action on the whole is hyper violent which makes the action look visceral if nothing else. But save for the opening sequence, the majority of the action takes place in the dingy, plain looking corridors and rooms of the besieged White House which makes every encounter maddeningly samey. And with Banning being an unstoppable killing machine, there are no amount of bad guys that can convince anyone that he is in any sort of peril.

What made Die Hard such a success were its characters. Not just the protagonist but the strong personalities that pervaded deep into the supporting cast. Butler’s Mike Banning is a dull, uninteresting man who mercilessly slaughters swathes of non-descript Koreans on his way to a final confrontation with a one-dimensional villain. Aaron Eckhart does well with very little.

When it isn’t indulging in patriotic flag waving, Olympus Has Fallen fails at tongue-in-cheek humour. There is not a single memorable one-liner in the entire film.

Olympus Has Fallen is straight-to-DVD action fodder with a Hollywood budget padded out with actors who should know better. (3)

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