‘Olympus Has Fallen’ flies high on fast-paced plot and high-impact violence

April 25, 2013

Director Antoine Fuqua has crafted a hard-hitting action picture in Olympus Has Fallen, the new thriller about a fiendishly complicated attack on Washington, D.C., that results in America’s president being held hostage.

Gerard Butler stars as Secret Service agent Mike Banning, a former military man who manages to infiltrate the White House even as a terrorist group aligned with North Korea finishes a brutal takeover of the president’s residence. His archenemy is Kang, played by Rick Yune, whose extreme cruelty is matched only by his cunning. Kang is backed by turncoat former Secret Service man Forbes (an oily Dylan McDermott) and a gang of anonymous henchmen who put up little resistance as Banning shoots, slashes and chops his way through the increasingly rubble-filled building.

The supporting cast includes Aaron Eckhart as President Benjamin Asher, Ashley Judd and Finley Jacobsen as the other members of the First Family, Angela Bassett, Melissa Leo, Morgan Freeman and Robert Forster as government officials, and Radha Mitchell in a small role as Banning’s wife.

While the plot is clearly derivative of Die Hard, down to the doomed mid-picture intervention by a squad of heavily armed soldiers, the execution is fresh enough and the cast appealing enough to make the endeavor work. A caution for the young and the faint of heart: The picture, scripted by Creighton Rothenberger and Katrin Benedikt, is more than deserving of its R rating. Banning has no mercy for his foes, and the film’s victims of violence include unarmed civilians as well as armed good guys.

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