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Movie review: Olympus has Fallen

Updated on April 11, 2013

No one can see the possibility of a real threat of war as a positive thing. And yet don’t be surprised if the producers of this action thriller aren't patting themselves on the back and high-fiving themselves until their palms are raw.

And who could blame them; North Korea is in the news once again threatening to throw their nuclear toys out of their pram; and the villain of their film? An unstable North Korea of course. You just can't buy publicity like that. President Kim Jong Un can be expecting one or two baskets, full to the brim with evil North American consumerist brain-washing products, by way of a thank you from them.

Not that the film needs that kind of publicity to get the crowds in (although, as they say, there's no such thing as bad publicity), as it has plenty going for it as it is.

Job satisfaction is hard to come by, but despite the many pressures of his position, Mike Banning (Gerard Butler), wouldn't want to be working anywhere else. He's the man in charge of the US President's security detail and is ultimately responsible for the safety of the President (Aaron Eckhart). Less so the first lady (Ashley Judd), as it transpires, when a tragic accident takes place on their way to a function.

Although Mike couldn't be wholly blamed for the incident, the President couldn't cope with having him on his team serving as a constant reminder of that horrific day, so had him removed.

Eighteen months later and Mike, now working in the somewhat subdued confines of the Treasury Department, longs once more for some excitement in his life. And luckily for him, he doesn't have to wait that much longer.

During a visit from a delegation from South Korea, the White House comes under attack from an unknown plane carrying an impressive array of weaponry. Before you know it, one of the most iconic buildings in the world, is in flames.

The currently presidential security team whisk the president, and the South Korean delegates, to the safety of the White House bunker. Which is just as well, as the plane attack was just the first wave of the assault, quickly followed by a ground attack.

With all this happening literally outside of his window, Mike can't sit idly by and watch the White House crumble. So using his impressive talents for administering violence, he sets about taking on all-comers, as he makes his way into the White House to save the day. It's just as well he does too, as it turns out the President isn't as safe as he believes himself to be.

It's been a while since director Antoine Fuqua has had a hit – not since the impressive Training Day back in 2001 in fact – but now the wait will surely be over with this Die Hard Clone. Actually, that's a little unfair, as it doesn't quite do the film justice; this is a film that Bruce Willis should be forced to watch just to remind him what every subsequent sequel to his classic 1988 original should have been like. (It's also worth noting that despite this film's 15 certificate, it feels like an 18 with its continual onslaught of delicious violence, which certainly makes a mockery of A Good Day to Die Hard's 12A rating).

Butler, in possibly his best action role since kissing Katherine Heigl in The Ugly Truth (or playing that naked fighting oik in 300, you decide), goes all out in the action hero stakes. He's devastatingly brutal, but it doesn't stop him from making light of a dangerous situation once in a while.

Fuqua just keeps piling on the action like the bloodiest of Knickerbocker Glories, at a breathtaking place. And despite the current events in North Korea, and the film's clearly unintentional topicality, its script is ludicrous, but deliciously so.

Even the appearance of Oscar-winning actress Melissa Yeo, giving the most curiously over the top performance yet seen since Shelley Winters aboard the Poseidon, is strangely engrossing.

The only thing it's lacking is any really memorable set pieces, and yet its conveyor belt of bang's, splats and punches is enough to satiate the appetite of any 'die hard' action fan.

With a leading man back at his ball-breaking best, and an impressive supporting cast that includes Morgan Freeman, Angela Bassett and Dylan McDermott, Fuqua has risen to the challenge of producing not only the best action film of the year so far, but one of the best in recent years.

4 booms

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