I’m going to get A LOT of stick for this review. In fact, I can see the comments flooding in saying that I’ve lost my bite; that my taste is now suspect, and I uphold American jingoism above all that is good in cinema.
You know what? I don’t give a shit. Director Antoine Fuqua’s Olympus Has Fallen has risen where many others over arguably the past decade or so have fallen flat on their bloated faces.
The story is simple enough; Gerard Butler is Mike, a former bodyguard to Aaron Eckhart’s President who unwittingly assumes the John McClane role when the White House is stormed by a bunch of North Korean terrorists. Butler and Eckhart’s characters have had a past; the bodyguard failed to save the President’s wife in a bridge ambush, and is now resigned to a desk job meters away from the White House. When the attack happens, he sets out to prove he’s still badass. What follows next is… not going to be spoiled by me.
Suffice it to say, what does in fact follow next, is the year’s best movie so far. After a traditional expository opening (Radha Mitchell provides the Butler love interest as a nurse soon to be dealing with the poor sods who cross his path) at about the twenty-five minute mark, I knew we were in for a treat.
The opening air attack on Washington is exhilarating and expertly handled by Fuqua. Once it’s over, you realise this is just the beginning of – literally – a ninety minute bloodbath. The siege continues, Butler weaves his way into it seamlessly – and all hell breaks loose.
And Hell breaks loose here in an extremely R-rated fashion. When people get shot, they get fucking SHOT. Blood sprays, limbs get crushed, people explode, buildings explode – you don’t know where the next hit is coming from. This is Die Hard all over again. You may recall specific things that gave Die Hard its nuance; Olympus Has Fallen, whilst not exactly original – nor subtle in its homage – is a fitting and timely tribute, considering the state of affairs in Korea right now.
Back to the violence. I was shocked at just how bloody and gory the whole affair is. Moreover, Olympus is obviously deeply in love with Die Hard – without revealing too much, Butler exudes the same charisma and humour as McClane did in the original. Hell, even the awesome scene where Hans Gruber and John McClane meet for the very first time is lovingly recreated here. Olympus’ script is gut-bustingly funny and fist-wavingly clever. Okay, so they are obvious cheap shots, but the film does an expert job of winning you over for the ride. Your inner 80s action kid will absolutely love every dumb second of it all.
The unsurprising last moments will have you simmering in your seat, seething with anger and most likely seeing some of the warped logic in Rick Yune’s terrorist; it’s overbearing and incredibly cheesy. But who the fuck cares – did you manage to keep track of the body count in this movie? If you did, then you’re a better person than I.
Olympus Has Fallen was obviously not made with the left-wing politic in mind. The film of the year thus far is a true NRA, rifle-wielding, gung-ho absent-minded patriotism at its very best. It’s brutal, probably fairly racist in places and deeply daft with its shoot-first-forget-to-ask-questions-later streak.
I’m willing to overlook all the negative reviews elsewhere and I am more than ready to sacrifice my reputation as a film critic and uphold that Olympus Has Fallen is the most entertaining film I’ve seen this year. I loved every dumb second and would happily cheer my way through it again.
And who’s saving the day in this American gusto, bullet-riddled orchestra of violence and destruction? A Scot.
Reviewed By: Andrew MacKay
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