Rec Center: Olympus Has Fallen

Once again a black man is the Commander-In-Chief when something catastrophic happens tothe United States of America. First, it was an asteroid destroying half the world. Then, it was a nuke going off in the City of Angels. And now, it’s the White House getting blown up and being taken over by North Korean extremists (great time for this particular plot by the way).

But luckily, Morgan Freeman (Speaker Trumbull) is the acting President, albeit only after the extremists had already ambushed and taken over the White House. So, good for him I guess.

Directed by Antoine Fuqua (Training Day), Olympus Has Fallen is the kind of original non-stop action thriller that you can either buy into for sheer entertainment value or dismiss as completely and utterly ludicrous. Starring Gerard “300 abs” Butler as Mike Banning, a former Secret Service agent turned office worker after failing his BBF and boxing buddy, the President of the United States Benjamin Asher (Aaron Eckhart). Fuqua’s latest offering has the US Government at the mercy of a North Korean militant group who has seized control of the White House. 

Led by the terrorist leader, Kang (Rick Yune) who’s as cool and calm as he is fearless and homicidal, the militant group ambushes the White House with a series of suicide bombings, machine-gun fire and a cargo plane that is equipped with enough firepower that you’d think Xzibit had a hand in pimping it out. After bodying what seemed to be every single Secret Service agent ever, the militants had no trouble seizing control of the Presidential Palace in what I can only describe as a visually and sonically epic attack. An attack executed by a mere 40 soldiers using dump trucks and smoke bombs as screens while lighting up the White House with AR-15’s, Uzi’s, Macs, Techs, nunchucks and Indian burns – their weaponry knew no limit. Word to Master P, the Koreans were more prepared to take over the White House than George Bush was in 2000…and 2004.

Though logical thoughts like “how the hell could the Executive Mansion have such a weak defense and response team to this kind of strike” arise (and trust me, you’ll have a few of those logic moments), those questions are interrupted by the conviction to the script that this cast displays. After the president and his cabinet are taken hostage, the fear and anxiousness can be seen in each one of these characters’ eyes. Seriously, from the fine-as-aged-wine Angela Bassett (props to whoever wifed her up) to the middle-aged white lady who took a hellafied beating, these actors were playing their roles like there was only one roster spot left on the next movie they’re hoping to nail.

But it’s Butler who makes this film go ’round, and he knows exactly how to get your undivided attention and keep it on his every move. Racking up a body count that was considered the norm in the ’80s but over-the-top by today’s standards, Banner’s character excels whenever he’s required to outmuscle, break down and ultimately, destroy the opposition. Similar to King Leonidas, the character who made Gerard Butler a household name, Banner comes off as a man who’s all heart, but still cold enough to squeeze a man’s life out of his body with his bare hands. So you knew once he got into the White House, it was going to be a massacre. And it was. It was marvelous.

It is not, by any means, a modern-day masterpiece, but Olympus Has Fallen is a testament to the age-old phrase, “movies for guys who like movies.” It’s a film about regrets and redemption that’s riddled with graphic violence, while carrying a bromance undercurrent to help give a bit more sentiment to the overall mission that Banner’s taken on. It’s real hard to explain without spoiling the entire movie, but trust when I say, it’s a picture that incorporates elements from damn-near every Die Hard, Lethal Weapon, and Seagal movie you’ve seen. Good thing is it doesn’t lean on most of the clichés that come with them which was a pleasant surprise. Ultimately, what has two thumbs and enjoyed Olympus Has Fallen, this guy!



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