So, my first movie of 2014 was Olympus Has Fallen (Antoine Fuqua, 2013). Before you judge me, I was looking for a simple, straightforward movie that I could half-watch without missing the whole plot. I was busy cleaning up the house at the same time. I also really happen to enjoy the disaster genre from any angle (Air Force One, The Day After Tomorrow, Armageddon, Independence Day…love ’em all). I know they’re awful, but a movie with big explosions, high emotional content, and potential destruction of the world as we know it, I’m there. Judge away.
I didn’t love Olympus, but I didn’t completely hate it either. Long story short: it’s predictable, with lengthy spectacle action sequences and an overly dramatic plot.
I found myself rolling my eyes at the heavy-handed metaphors and unintentional camp. The slow motion shot of the tattered American flag falling from the roof of the White House backed by an almost pink sunset sky was just too much. The Netflix subtitles of “dramatic music fading up,” didn’t help to up the serious tone, either. Every time the enemy moved on to their next phase of attack, all I could think was “enough already!” The initial attack lasts a full fifteen minutes of runtime and culminates in a close-up of the operation’s mastermind (revealed in a foreseeable plot-twist), melodramatically removing his glasses to prove he’s now the villain of this picture. By the way, I get they were going for authenticity in the attack sequence, but the added blood splatter effect on every single death was serious overkill. Pun intended. Overall the tone of the movie was conflicted. I can’t tell what it was trying to accomplish other than a show of Gerard Butler’s machismo at the final fight scene, or cramming as many special effects into it as possible. So many and so continuous in fact, that it bordered on obnoxious.
It is clear Olympus was trying to deliver a foreboding and ominous sense of drama, but failed at achieving that goal. It’s impossible to take the movie seriously, as it seems to want viewers to do, when its plot revolves around sensational effects without even the slightest attempt at realism.