America. The world’s best and brightest. The land of the free and home of the brave, the stars and stripes, the metropolitans that scrape the sky and the country towns that remind us all of our roots. America the beautiful.
I will admit to having never traveled internationally, nor do I think there is a way to measure patriotism, but as an American, I acknowledge that Americans have a strong sense of nationalism. People here believe in this country more than they believe in themselves. We believe in the American dream.
So when I watch a film like Olympus Has Fallen that screams America, it’s incredibly hard not to enjoy it. I tabbed Olympus Has Fallen as my third favorite film from 2013, but had not reviewed it.
Olympus Has Fallen made it into my top five because of the emotion and patriotic parade it unveils in front of its audiences. Pittsburgh product Antoine Fuqua is known for his ability to convey polarizing emotion, such as in Tears of the Sun and his best work, Training Day, which earned Denzel Washington an Oscar for Best Actor. He puts emotion in a box and let’s it grow naturally. His plot work is often absurd, with Olympus Has Fallen being yet another example, but his dedication to the feel element is noticeable and worth some credit.
Olympus Has Fallen‘s plot is waiting to get put under the knife for dissection. It’s waiting for you to laugh at it, but I don’t think Fuqua cares about any of this. The opening sequences, as frivolous as they are, serve to set the stage, introduce some characters that probably won’t matter later and introduce our hero, Mike Banning (Gerard Butler). Fuqua builds his pieces like a chess amateur. He sets the board and rather than try to confuse or distract his opponent from the moves he’s making, he simply tries to outsmart him. He meets him head-on and dares him to outmuscle him. Audiences have a field day with this approach, especially when the plot is as easy to laugh at as it is here. There are plenty who can watch Olympus Has Fallen and believe this is an all-too-real possibility and others will point out the inaccuracies and implausibilities in the story’s opening frames. It gets to the point of lunacy real quick, but if you stick with it and you wait for the rally that’s bound to happen with Butler at the head, it’ll manage to echo out all of the outside noise shouting how false this movie is.
Olympus Has Fallen seeks to bring America down to show Americans’ strongest attribute: determination. America is unrelenting in its pursuit for justice, freedom and peace. If we take a minute to take Olympus Has Fallen seriously, it seems like an impossible feat. One man against a hundred North Korean terrorists in the most secure building in the world. Against impossible odds, however, America has always overcome. Whether it be international conflict, turmoil here at home, or feats on the stages of sports, America is never out.
I’ve talked about America so much in this review because that’s what Fuqua is going for here. There isn’t a lot of reasons why things go down as they do. You can question it if you want to, as well you should at some points, or you can live it. I know how the saying goes about assuming, but assume for a minute that this happened. You are one man, against a hundred. (Not one of 300 against thousands this go-around, Gerard.) The country’s foundation as we know it rests on your shoulders.
The action and the ‘Merica moments aside, there’s not a lot going on here. Butler’s Banning has some great one-liners that you like to see come out of your action heroes, but in terms of character, it’s superficial. The same can be said for the majority of the cast here. Olympus Has Fallen has little draw to anyone outside of its U.S-intended audience and the lack of personality here subdues it in the end from a critical standpoint. It’s mindless action, but has emotion entangled with it, and that emotion makes all the difference in the world.
Once again, if you’re new to my blog, I’ve always ranked movies on a scale of 0-100 (I don’t know why, I just always have). Here’s the grading scale.
80-89 It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (The Cable Guy, The Cabin in the Woods, Tears of the Sun, Edge of Tomorrow, The Amazing Spider-Man 2)
60-69 It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2, Beasts of No Nation, Terminator: Genisys, Black Sheep)
40-49 This movie is just mediocre. It’s not doing anything other than the bare minimal, so morbidly boring that sometimes I’m actually angry I watched this. (War, The Ridiculous 6, The Lost Boys, Zombeavers, Crank)
30-39 Definitely worse than mediocre, the 30′s ironically define the 1930′s, full of depression, lack of accomplishments, poverty and just so dumb. (Centurion, Planet of the Apes, Stonados, Redemption, Pride and Prejudice)
0-19 Watching this movie resulted in one or more of the following: seizure, loss of brain cells, falling asleep/unconsciousness, feel you wasted your time/day, accomplished nothing for you, left the movie knowing less about it then you did going into it, constantly asking yourself why you came to see this movie, or near-death experience. In short, staring at a wall was just as entertaining as watching this movie. This movie deserved a sticker or a label that said, “WARNING: EXTREME AMOUNT OF SUCKAGE.” (The Coed and the Zombie Stoner, The Forbidden Dimensions, Cyborg, Outcast, Sabotage)
My score for Olympus Has Fallen: 84.
Did Olympus Has Fallen deserve to make my top five in 2013? Probably not. With that said, I can see why I ranked it that way. Fuqua’s piece is ready to lead the charge. All you have to do is follow his lead.