The premise of the film is that a terrorist group has stormed the White House (aka “Olympus”) and has taken the President and several members of the White House staff and Cabinet hostage. I gotta say this segment of the film was gripping (perhaps the current news headlines caused it to strike a little too close to home?), and I found myself riveted to the action on the screen.
Unfortunately, at least for me, the movie begins to lose my interest in the aftermath of the attack.
Since both the President and Vice President are incapacitated, the Speaker of the House, Martin Trumbull [Morgan Freeman] becomes acting President. Now one would think that since he’s already been President in a high-stress situation, this gig would be a breeze.
Just as with a great film, I found myself wanting to interact with the characters on-screen; however, in this movie I was always telling them that what they were doing was dumb. When characters do things that appear to make sense only as a contrivance to give the script writer a means of letting other things happen, I get pulled out of a movie. Sadly, by the half-way mark in this film, the contrived script caused me to lose all of the intense interest I had during the first half of the film.
That’s a shame.
Now, you may be asking, “Well Scott, that seems a little unfair in light of what you said about ‘A Good Day to Die Hard’ – why so critical here?” And the answer, of course, is simple: While the aforementioned Bruce Willis film never takes itself seriously, thereby allowing for all sorts of craziness to move the action forward, Olympus Has Fallen positions itself in a much more serious light. And while this approach can yield greater results, it has to follow a stricter set of “rules” – and contrivances aren’t allowed in serious drama (whereas in “fun” action flicks, they can simply contribute to the good time).
Olympus Has Fallen ends up being neither great fun nor great drama.