Sunday, March 24, 2013

Terror Porn: Olympus Has Fallen



Olympus Has Fallen is an example of what I will call 9/11esque terror porn. Within a twenty-four-hour storyline, Olympus plays as an allegory for the period stretching from the terrorist acts of 9/11, through America’s attempts to reinstate its pride and unity, to the assassination of bin Laden, but it does so with countless R-rated shots in the head and buckets of splattering blood, as our country is debased almost sadomasochistically when North Korean terrorists massacre civilians, D.C. policemen, and secret service agents (see image above; why aren't the windows shattering?); demolish the Washington Memorial; capture the White House; and hold President Benjamin Asher hostage. In one sequence, Blackhawk helicopters full of confident Navy Seals fly to the rescue, an image immediately recalling the recent Zero Dark Thirty, but they are shot down with ease. Reprising the bitterly vengeful side of the character of Harvey Dent in The Dark Knight more than the crusader for justice, Aaron Eckhart plays the President as a buff boxer who endures his captivity with eye-bulging defiance. In a premise ripped shamelessly from Die Hard, Gerard Butler plays secret service agent Mike Banning who ends up being the only agent left alive inside the White House. Invincibly, Banning cuts his way through the opposition, shooting everybody in the head, and in keeping with the historical allegory, he finds time to use torture to get terrorists to spill the beans. During a single day, America gets demeaned royally by terrorists, our flag flutters to the White House lawn, and the White House is partially burned, but Banning and Asher prevail, along with the help of an old-looking Morgan Freeman as the Speaker of the House and acting president during the crisis, and our country remains strong, united, and victorious. Olympus Has Fallen is an ordeal in more ways than one.

4 comments:

Steve's Blog said...

I must confess I had a good time watching Olympus Fall after enduring the saccharine-filled first act in which we uniformly meet and greet a wholesomely good first family and their "Ah shucks, we're jus' a big ole family" crew of secret service agents. I still don't know what they hit on that bridge.

Nevertheless, kudos to Melissa Leo for letting it all hang out in her stint as the Secretary of Defense. In short, I enjoyed the demolition of cars and copters in the latest Die Hard better than watching a house catch fire for 2 hours.

Hokahey said...

Steve - good one! What the heck fell on that car on the bridge? It couldn't have been a branch. They were on a bridge! A big snowball?

I do enjoy a good dose of mayhem - and this had some grand pyrotechnics, but once the epic assault on the White House was over, it was just monotonous carnage for me.

However, in its favor, I was cringing in expectation that the President's son would know all sorts of secret passageways around the White House and help the hero outwit the terrorists, but he is suitably frightened and just gets sent to safety. Loved the secret service dog that gets to chomp a terrorist before getting shot. So Hollywood!

But look at the picture! The windows are shattering! Do you think they got to do that shot on the real White House porch?

Jason Bellamy said...

Granted, this is coming from someone who hasn't been to mainstream multiplex once this year, but I wonder if the only difference between this movie and one of the big summer blockbusters is simply the time of the year it's released and the amount of marketing used to promote it. I saw a few trailers for this movie, but not that many, even though it seems like a typical summer CGI blockbuster. Advertise this as much as a Peter Jackson joint or comic book adventure and, hey, suddenly this movie would seem big. Or maybe not. Maybe it's actually worse than the summer drivel.

Hokahey said...

Jason - thanks for the thoughts. This movie has all the trappings of a summer blockbuster, but the timing of its release makes it a smallbuster.

Apropos of your comment, I saw a preview today that might explain the placement of Olympus in March: Roland Emmerich's White House Down. I was blown away! (Excuse the pun.) It's the same thing: White House in flames; lone man with a gun (in this case, Channing Tatum), trying to avert disaster in Die Hard style.

Much of Olympus is very BIG, but it's almost as if it gave up in the shadow of Emmerich.