Tag Archives: Olympus Has Fallen

Falling Hard

London Has Fallen

by Hope Madden

If Antoine Fuqua’s 2013 “Die Hard in the White House” effort Olympus Has Fallen felt too PC, too artistic, too restrained, too competent for you, you are in luck! The cinematic dumpster fire of a sequel that is London Has Fallen has arrived.

Gone are the ludicrous but gorgeously choreographed set pieces Fuqua is known for, replaced by generically brown villains, incompetently choreographed action, and jarringly stock footage stitched together with badly mismatched sound stage shots.

But Gerard Butler and his super convincing bad ass act are back!

Butler’s secret service agent Mike Banning – torn between the dangerous job he loves and the unborn baby he wants to spend more time with – must travel to London with BFF/President Benjamin Asher (granite jawed Aaron Eckhart) for a state funeral.

But wait! Some poorly explained, amazingly convenient, ridiculously performed terrorist attack kills the world’s heads of state while decimating props that almost look just like the stock footage of London landmarks we were seeing moments ago!

Jesus, this film is incompetently made. Set aside, for a moment, the irredeemable bloodlust and jingoism at the heart of the screenplay. Forgive, if you will, the heinous dialog spilling from the mouths of talented actors like Angela Basset, Melisa Leo, and Morgan Freeman. Let’s focus, for a laugh, on the wild lack of directorial skill behind this action epic.

London Has Fallen looks like something you’d see on SyFy network on any given Saturday afternoon. Director Babak Najafi’s one set piece really meant to wow – a single-take shoot out in a London alley – has the feel of a video game recreated by high school kids on a gym auditorium set made of paper mache.

But maybe that’s OK with you. Maybe you’re in it for the knife fights. Hope you’re OK with all talk and no blood, though. For all of Banning’s overtly racist sadism with that big ol’ knife, the wounding itself is always conveniently out of frame.

But at least you’ll never get lost trying to follow the story because, luckily, every so often Najafi cuts back to a group of far-too-talented actors sitting in a room together, watching the action on a screen and explaining the entire plot to each other. Whew!

You have to give Butler credit, though. It is hard to put out two films in back to back weekends that are so memorably awful. Between Gods of Egypt and London has Fallen, he’s made quite a mark.

Bravo, sir.


“Get Out of My House!”

By George Wolf


Borrowing the original Die Hard formula is not a heinous crime. Films have been doing it for years, with varying degrees of success.

Olympus Has Fallen takes that formula, as well as..ahem.. a scene or two, wraps it in pathos and patriotism and delivers an action flick that really has no business working as well as it does.

The “Nakatomi Plaza” this time round is none other than the White House, which is overtaken by a gang of North Korean terrorists who were apparently unmoved by the all-American charm of Dennis Rodman.

The fly in their ointment is ex special forces/ex secret service/general badass Mike Banning (Gerard Butler), who slipped inside during the takeover and is determined to deliver a few good wisecracks while rescuing the hostages, which include the President (Aaron Eckhart),  VP and Secretary of Defense.

Director Antoine Fuqua (Training Day) has a clear vision of the movie he’s making and sticks to it, with no apologies. That vision is basically 90 minutes of the “get off my plane!” crowd-pleasing from Air Force One. The action,  well paced as it is, is interspersed with dramatic shots of bullet-ridden flags falling in slow motion and a heavy-hearted Speaker of the House/acting President (Morgan Freeman of course) debating his next move.  The film offers up a couple shots at American foreign policy, but those are quickly drowned out by the swelling music and nationalistic bombast.

The ensemble cast (including Ashley Judd, Melissa Leo, Dylan McDermott and Angela Bassett) does come through for Fuqua, helping him deliver a few tense-if-ridiculous moments.

Olympus Has Fallen aims no higher than keeping an audience engaged throughout a large drink and popcorn. Though that target is squarely acquired, it’s a rather empty victory that is easily forgotten once the lights come up.

2 1/2 stars