“Olympus Has Fallen” is a patriotic action film, according to Gerard Butler, who plays a Secret Service agent who helps defend the White House from a North Korean terrorist attack.
In that movie, extraterrestrials blew it to smithereens. The North Korean terrorists and their evil mastermind Kang, played by Rick Yune, don’t go that far. But they still do a number on “Olympus,” the Secret Service code name for the president’s house.
They ply it with heavy-duty machine gun fire and grenades and, for the most part, misbehave — smashing up windows, breaking the china, shooting the staff, roughing up the Lincoln Bedroom and planting plastic explosives in the walls.
‘Die Hard’ in the White House
“Olympus Has Fallen” opens a little over a month after the release of the latest “Die Hard” installment. “A Good Day to Die Hard” features wisecracking cop-hero John McClane, played by Bruce Willis, kicking bad-guy butt in Moscow.
More than one publicist-type has described “Olympus” as “‘Die Hard’ in the White House,” and the parallels are certainly there.
In 1988’s original “Die Hard,” Willis’ character is the lone good guy left to do battle with armed-to-the-teeth terrorists in a Los Angeles skyscraper led by heavily accented bad guy Hans Gruber, played by Alan Rickman.
In “Olympus Has Fallen,” Butler’s character is the lone good guy left to do battle with armed-to-the-teeth terrorists in the White House led by heavily accented bad guy Kang.
Like McClane in “Die Hard,” Banning is outnumbered, outgunned and tired, but he perseveres, and has enough in the tank for wisecracks.
“It’s been busy,” Banning says to his wife on the phone, after he’s dispensed with about 50 bad guys, rescued the president’s son and is about to avert a nuclear catastrophe Kang wants to set off. “Paperwork’s piling up,” he adds.
It’s a very “Die Hard” moment, and it begs the question of why the “Die Hard” folks didn’t do a movie along these lines when they made their own Washington movie, 2007’s “Live Free or Die Hard.”
That movie was about cyber-terrorism and had Justin Long, the Mac guy, in it.
Bottom line? “Olympus Has Fallen” out-Die-Hards “Die Hard,” at least in this movie season.
“Sorry about the house, sir,” a bleeding and battered Banning says at the end of the movie.
“I believe it’s insured,” a bleeding and battered Asher replies.
“This is a very patriotic film,” Butler said, more serious and on point in person than his character in the movie. “You’re disturbed, then you’re inspired.”
“It’s the place we look to for answers,” Fuqua said about the White House. “What happens when it’s not there?” he asked, hoping the film will remind viewers, “It’s OK to be patriotic.”
Realism Vs. Fantasy
At any rate, “Olympus Has Fallen” provides satisfaction for those who want to see an action film set in Washington that strives for realism without jeopardizing the explosion-to-dialogue ratio.
It’s realistic enough to make Washingtonians, or those still scarred by 9/11, wince when the attack on the White House begins.
It’s unrealistic enough to show the speaker, played by Morgan Freeman, and the president working together in a tense situation for the betterment of the country.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., carries a musket on stage as he speaks during the American Conservative Union's Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor, Md., on Thursday March 6, 2014.