This review was previously published in The National newspaper.
WHETHER the plot demands it or not, if a movie is even remotely successful then you can pretty much guarantee that a sequel will pop up sooner or later. So why should Olympus Has Fallen be any different?
We catch up with Gerard Butler’s Secret Service Agent Mike Banning as he joins President Asher (Aaron Eckhart) on a trip to London for the state funeral of the British Prime Minister. The event has drawn a lot of biggest world leaders to the British capital, causing major security risks for all involved. There are no points for guessing that an attack ensues designed to take out as many leaders as possible and ultimately kidnap the US president.
Essentially it’s the same formula as the last time: terrorists attack an iconic location, try to get the president and Butler is there to save the day, with large helpings of jingoism, one-liners and explosions thrown in for good measure. But this time it gives them the chance to take part in Hollywood’s new favourite pastime: destroying the hell out of London and it takes a singular glee in showing the various iconic landmarks explode and topple over.
The villain has changed from rogue Koreans to a Pakistani arms dealer, motivated half by revenge for a drone strike that inadvertently killed his daughter and half by some convoluted way of bringing war to the West. As it turns out, it’s all stabby on the Western front, with Butler’s John McClane wannabe hero stabbing as many nameless baddies as he can get his hands on in the name of protecting his Commander in Chief.
It’s a deeply silly film and it feels like it’s only aware of that for half the time. That niggling issue last time comes into full view here: it’s a bombastic sequel caught between having a glint in its eye and being deadly serious when it waffles on about how America will prevail.
Sometimes that America rules the world mentality turns a little mean, such as certain lines of dialogue being at best ignorant and at worst downright xenophobic – imagine the action movie equivalent of “go back to your own country” and you’re somewhere close. You could almost be offended if it weren’t all so damn ludicrous.
Its attempts to be any sort of relevant viewing of real world political and warfare situations — the morality of remotely bombing places, dubious political allegiances between Western nations etc. — is foolhardy because it’s ultimately nothing more than an enjoyably brainless summer blockbuster that just so happens to be released a few months ahead of time.
Forget logic, forget realism, forget originality; this is the very definition of a does what it says on the tin popcorn movie. By the time Butler profanely tells you how thirsty he is, it’s time to throw your hands up and embrace the silliness.