Disgraced former Presidential guard Mike Banning finds himself trapped inside the White House in the wake of a terrorist attack; using his inside knowledge, Banning works with national security to rescue the President from his kidnappers.
For the most part the movie served its purpose for me as a popcorn flick, the type of movie I was in the mood for last night, but to look any deeper than that reveals the many flaws that keep this movie from being great.
One could easily think of this as Die Hard meets Air Force One. I really don't expect there to never be another movie where a hero is run through a similar plot to those movies, so that didn't bother me. What bothered me was how they came short of delivering a movie as good as those when they had most of the pieces to do so in front of them.
Something that stood out for me as a problem, once the movie kicks into high gear, was the terrorist takeover. Olympus Has Fallen did a lot to show how the White House could be defended from a possible assault, even having a few good touches like anti-aircraft weapons pop up on the roof, and the terrorists were certainly well prepared, but it still just didn't feel like enough. Between the rather stupid way some of the defenders of the White House fought during the attack to the response to the cheesy way that everyone got killed off except Gerard Butler's character, was the start of how the movie would begin to fail.
One of the things I loved about Air Force One was how the terrorists just barely got control of the plane, they were inches away from failure. I never had that impression here. They certainly seemed to reach for it, but couldn't deliver. The takeover began with their plane (a C130? I'm not sure) flying in, over some of the biggest military areas in Virginia I might add, and making it all the way into D.C. before jets intercepted it (no, painting U.S.A.F. on the side would not be enough to get your plane into the U.S., especially post 9/11, terrorists). It ended with the president telling the Secret Service to bring the people he was meeting into the bunker with him. If anyone has seen the Secret Service in action, once the shit hits the fan, they are in charge, no way do I believe they would let someone else into a saferoom with the president in such an attack, much less their entire 'security team'. The rest of that sequence was filled with several more holes, but also a few worthwhile moments as well.
Now we are at the Die Hard portion of the movie, where Gerard is the only one still alive in the White House. If you ignore the fact that hundreds of "capable" people died in this attack in order to leave Gerard in the hero position, it helps. When they stayed focused on Gerard and his fight against the terrorists, the movie was quite enjoyable, but everytime they showed what was going on with the President or the various government and military people, I wanted to scream. Much like the attack on the White House, there are too many issues to name, so I'll only go through a couple here.
1. One of the key plot points is how there is this new "Cerberus" system, a system that can be used to self destruct our nukes, we've developed. There are three codes needed to activate this, the President has one and the two others that have it are people that are, of course, trapped in the bunker with him and the terrorists. Is that the only problem with this scenerio? Hell, no. They get the first code from a guy by threatening to slit his throat, the president orders him to tell them... uh, if there is one guy you need something from, how is killing him going to get it for you? Repeat for the second person. The president says they'll never get his code however! How do you figure? You're going to watch these people die/get tortured for the third code, but not for their own codes? All while this is going on, the terrorists are trying to get the president's son because they know that he'll cave to protect his son. Fortunately, Gerard saves the boy, but that's ok, the terrorists end up not even needing the last code, they just hack it. There are more problems with this whole Cerberus thing, but I'll move onto my next example.
2. There is an attempt by the military to launch a rescue and they take six choppers, loaded with Navy SEALs, to land on the roof. Gerard tries to stop them when he sees that the terrorists have some sort of new top-secret experimental weapons system deploying to the roof, but the general just dismisses his warnings and says they'll just blow it up. I don't know if this was already in the White House and they just didn't use it when they got attacked, or if the terrorists somehow brought it with them and installed it, but let's roll with it. So, guess what? They don't just blow up this weapon, it starts shooting the shit out of them and downing chopper after chopper. Finally, Gerard has fought his way up there and uses and RPG to blow up the weapon, leaving only one chopper left. At his point they call it back. Wait, what? Yes, even though they ignored direct warnings of some awesome weapon initially and launched an attack, and even though the roof is clear and they could drop off the last chopper of SEALs, they call it back because they don't know what else they could have. It didn't bother them that there was this top secret supergun on the roof before, but now they are worried about "could-bes" when they have a unit of SEALs right there on scene! In Die Hard, the incompetence of the police chief and FBI worked because of the time period and smaller scale, but when you are dealing with the President and the White House, it just can't be overlooked.
Well, I'll have to stop at those two before my head explodes. Maybe I can talk about what I did like.
The fight scenes were well done, the actors were all great. Aaron Eckhart (The President) should be type cast as a guy that is constantly tied up and struggles, because he's awesome at looking angry and frustrated. Can't complain about Morgan Freeman (Speaker of the House) being a guy in charge and dishing out orders, but I couldn't help but constantly wonder, "My God, What if this was John Boehner?" And Gerard kicks ass and breaks necks like Liam Neeson going after his daughter. In fact, the no-hold-barred fights and no-nonsense gunwork is what got me through the movie.
If only they had tightened up some of the holes in the story, we had the actors and the budget to have Die Hard meets Air Force One, but instead we got Die Hard 2 meets Delta Force (and I'm being generous).
Wait for this to hit redbox/netflix when you are in the mood for a cheesy action movie.
Anyone else see this? What are you thoughts?
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About the Author - Jeremy Shane
Jeremy was born in a small mountain village of a strange foreign land called Weystvurginea. Banishment for liberal views saw him spend years wondering the east coast until he decided to bike to California. When he saw how long a trip it was, he drove instead. Now he's living it up in a low humidity climate, sometimes working on his photography and when not, he writes for us covering books (by way of his blog: Reading Realms), gaming, tv, movies, comics, conventions in the SoCal area, and creates a weekly webcomic: A Journey Through Skyrim. If you look for him offline, start in the L.A. area; online start at: www.jeremyshane.info for his profile and all the social networks he's on... or just follow him on twitter, he seems to be on there a lot: @jeremyshane.
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