Friday night after work, my friend Doug and I went to see Olympus Has Fallen (2013) at the AMC Jersey Gardens theater close to my office. It’s a short 15 min drive from Newark to Elizabeth, so I think we should try to see more films there, as it’s fairly convenient for both of us after work. I ended up leaving the office later than I planned, due to some last minute conversations and some work to do, but I eventually ran to the restroom to change my clothes, say my goodbyes, then run to the parking garage. I had maybe 25+ minutes to get out of Newark, drive to Elizabeth, find parking, pick up my ticket, and get a seat. Somehow, as always, I made it. The theater was fairly empty, so that was a big plus. I hate rushing to a theater, and finding only front row seats available.
The movie stars Gerard Butler as “disgraced” Secret Service agent Mike Banning, though i wouldn’t agree with why he would be disgraced over an accident. He gets off protection detail, and gets reassigned to Treasury work. It’s employment, but desperately wants to get back to security.
18 months later, North Korean terrorists attack the White House in an elaborate and daring raid, and they take a number of White House staff hostage, including Aaron Eckhart as the President. The film also stars Morgan Freeman as the Speaker of the House Trumbull (who becomes the acting President during the hostage crisis), and Angela Bassett (as the Secret Service Director Lynne Jacobs on Banning’s side.) The attack that begins with a heavily armed C-130 gunship strafing Washington DC was pretty interesting, as was the 2nd phase raid by the ground units. It was fairly bloody, and reminiscent of video game 1st-person shooter violence — head shots, blood splatter on the walls, etc.
In the face of this brutal attack, Banning finds himself back into the physical White House and alone, as the rest of the Secret Service protection detail within have been decimated. Much like John McClane from the original Die Hard, Banning becomes the single good guy able to kill off the terrorists with little help from the outside. The additional wrinkle is that the President’s young son is hiding somewhere in the White House, and needs to be found before the North Koreans find him. Meanwhile, the terrorists have plans greater than simply taking hostages.
Directed Antoine Fuqua (also directed Training Day), this is a big campy action that was very reminiscent of Die Hard. One guy in the building, hostages that need to be rescued, incompetent and overconfident Federal forces that won’t listen to the rogue hero on the inside. *** SPOILERS *** Heck, they even ripped off the botched helicopter raid on the building roof, and a scene where the Banning is led to believe a terrorist is one of the escaped hostages (like when John McClane finds Hans Gruber.)
I thought it was a decent rental, but it’s just another retread of Die Hard, and John McClane is more fun.