Olympus Has Fallen

Everything in Antoine Fuqua's latest film, Olympus Has Fallen, feels calculated -- and I'm not talking just about the impressively staged seizing of the White House and the near immobilization of the executive branch of  the government that opens the film. Fuqua knows his way around chaos and how to communicate the escalation of calamitous improbability without alienating or pissing off the audience. He's smarter than that and delivers here an entertaining 100 minutes of kick-assery. The populist director of Training Day [2001], Tears of the Sun [2003] and Shooter [2007],  Fuqua has cast a host of Hollywood's more likable faces: Aaron Eckhart as the luckless President Asher, Ashley Judd as his even unluckier first lady, Morgan Freeman (the most likable man in the known universe) as House Speaker Trumball and Gerard Butler (who co-producers this testosterone-y feast of grimacing gun play) as uber-agent Mike Banning, the president's sparring partner and hero. It's strategic, as was an early Oval Office confab that rings like the United Colors of Benneton and includes the president, his female Secretary of Defense (Oscar winner Melissa Leo), the black House Speaker, the Hispanic vice president and a coterie of colorful seconds stationed about the room. The film's villain, Kang (played with brilliant iciness by Rick Yune), is Korean but he's aligned with neither the North nor the South. Kang's manifesto, delivered off-handedly shortly after the White House is taken, contains some reference to the re-unification of his country and the alleviation of starvation and devastation among his people. It's not supposed to make sense beyond giving the evil guy some raison d'etre for his bloody badness. The film is mindless with an astronomical body count but it's enormously entertaining. Leave the kids home.


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