Monday, February 19, 2018
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OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN Is Racist, Stupid and One-Dimensional

The director of Training Day (2001) (a respectable movie to say the least) has made the most hilariously ridiculous, cringe-inducingly bad movie I've seen in some time. Boasting a cast of renowned actors like Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Morgan Freeman, Angela Basset, even this ensemble could not save it. Olympus Has Fallen opens on Christmas eve, showing a happy president, a happy

The director of Training Day (2001) (a respectable movie to say the least) has made the most hilariously ridiculous, cringe-inducingly bad movie I’ve seen in some time. Boasting a cast of renowned actors like Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Morgan Freeman, Angela Basset, even this ensemble could not save it.

Olympus Has Fallen opens on Christmas eve, showing a happy president, a happy first lady, a really happy kid, happy bodyguards – until something awful happens (of course). Mike Banning, Best Bodyguard Ever, saves the president, but unfortunately cannot safe his wife. He’s fired instantly: naturally, the president cannot see his face any longer and be reminded of what happened to his wife. So far the introduction. We fast forward to 18 months later, where we now see not so happy, not best bodyguard ever Mike Banning. He now works at the national treasury with some boring desk job. He wants his old job back – he does not like papers, he likes guns. So when the situation presents itself where a terrorist attack takes place in Washington D.C. – on the White House – he throws himself out there, and (of course) is the only man who can save the day. Every other security guy is instantly killed in the attack, leaving no one other than… the Best Bodyguard Ever. Lots of sneaking through the post-apocalyptic White House (after all, the house of the Gods has fallen) ensues, along with chest slapping between hero and foe, and of course, the higher-ups oversee the whole operation from … some desk at a top secret location. Oh yeah, and the president is kept hostage in the bunker. Lest we not forget the president. (I totally forgot to mention that not only does BBE have to save the president, he also has to save the entire world – America – from being nuked).

Ah, I can not help but be sarcastic. This movie is so bad, it made me cringe and laugh at the same time. Gerard Butler, who I much prefer when he uses his own accent by the way (because however hard he tries, his Scottisch shines through like the sun in high summer), gives us a one-dimensional performance, but I think the script – and director – didn’t leave him much room. Morgan Freeman is his ever respectable self, but is as bland as can be. And Aaron Eckhart plays the oh so human, hurt president, who will do everything to prevent the world (America) from being nuked. Except in the end, he doesn’t.

The terrorist foe in Olympus Has Fallen is North Korean, and beginning to end, we are slammed over the head with the fact that they’re irrational, war-lusting, extremely dangerous, and just all-round evil. Every Asian cliché you’ve heard of is used. It’s so racist, it’s painful.

The racism is only strengthened by the constant glorification of the United States. Come now – the White House is Olympus, the Grecian mountain of Gods? The President is a God? And the only ones who can save South Korea from being attacked by their Northern Neighbors is the U.S.? The absence of any other country in this movie was jarring, in my opinion and the arrogance was overwhelming.

Then there was the general stupidity of the story and its characters – rarely have I seen such stupidity. If they were supposed to be Gods, man, I would remain an atheist with a passion. We would seriously be screwed if these were the real life American leaders and the ones that would have to save us from impending doom.

Case in point: when Evil North Korean Terrorist Kang (Rick Yune) send his attack dog Forbes (Dylan McDermott) after Banning and Banning finds Forbes in deserted, post-apocalyptic Olympus, he immediately trusts Forbes after a shitty excuse for him being there, and Forbes screws it up for himself when he says something he couldn’t know. Whoopsie. Finally, Banning’s squirrel-size brains make the connections.

Case in point #2: the most gloriously, amazingly stupid moment was when the higher-ups decide they should definitely send in an attack team right now (even though not so smart BBE is already there to save the day and even he sees this is not a good idea). Oh – lo and behold – all your choppers are shot down by your own defenses, which you knew were there!

And this was the look on their faces as they watched it happening:

ohfsc2

source: FilmDistrict

Oh yes. The shock. *Sigh*.

Anyway, in short, while this movie has some great actors, the story is offensive, ridiculous and plain bad, and a rip-off at that (BBE did reminds me of Snake Plissken a bit, actually, which made me giggle). Watch the movie because you either like to torture yourself or because you can turn off your brain to just enjoy the whackiness.

Discussion

Warning, the following contains spoilers.

Alright, so, I’ll have to at least say something useful about this movie. There was one thing I thought was worth mentioning.

We are first introduced to Forbes as the long lost friend of the Presidential bodyguards – he made the step to private security. When it turns out Forbes is a traitor, a buddy of the North Koreans, it’s suggested that the private security employee will take any job as long as it pays, no matter who he works for. Basically: private security = no morals. This is underlined by the President when he asks “What’s the going rate for traitors these days?” Forbes of course throws him a retort about how he is the traitor, but that’s not the message this movie wants to deliver, for this is about the Mountain of Gods.

I’ll keep it at that – I honestly think I’ve covered what I think about this movie thoroughly enough. I just hope this movie isn’t very actively going to reaffirm or create certain ideas people have about the world (or terrorism or North Koreans or Asians in general), for they will be racist, stupid and very one-dimensional.

Thoughts? Am I being too harsh? 

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Opinions expressed in our articles are those of the authors and not of the Film Inquiry magazine.

Manon is the founder and Editor in Chief of Film Inquiry. Originally a Dutchie, and having lived in Australia for 4 years, she now lives in Houston, TX. She has a Master's degree in Global Criminology, and is a screenwriter. Lives vicariously through film.

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