“Olympus Has Fallen” feels like an episode of “24” meets “Air Force One.” The film looks decent, is well-acted, but lacks the intensity and emotional force brought about by modern action films. When the bar has been set so high in recent years by films such as the “Bourne” trilogy and “Inception,” “Olympus Has Fallen” is weighed down by predictable writing and contrived plot points. More importantly, for me, this represents another straw drawn by director Antoine Fuqua, as he was unable to take this huge budget and strong cast and turn it into a stand out film.
Since making “Training Day,” Fuqua’s films have been treading the line just above mediocrity. “Training Day” was followed by “Tears of the Sun,” which was pretty good, but largely carried by one of Bruce Willis’ better performances. “King Arthur” and “Shooter” were ‘okay’ at best. Fuqua made “Brooklyn’s Finest” after “Shooter,” which I view as his best film since “Training Day.” But that film’s ending was disappointing compared to the rest. Similarly, “Shooter,” which starred Mark Wahlberg, was not bad until the last fifteen minutes, which made no sense compared to the rest of the movie.
The lack of a payoff from the build up in “Shooter” was unfortunately also the case in “Olympus Has Fallen,” where Fuqua establishes a strong antagonism between Gerard Butler’s character and the main villain. There was even a scene involving Butler practicing boxing with Aaron Eckhart, who plays the President of the United States, that could have been used as a foreshadow into the film’s climax in the final act. But nope, the final act was as formulaic as it gets.
The film also feels slightly out of date. The days of ‘stop the bomb from blowing up’ story lines are passed, and I even felt slightly nostalgic when I saw that a bomb device in this film has a digital ticker that sets the bomb off when it reaches zero. But I don’t think nostalgia is the feeling the film wants the audience to have, it being a modern action picture.
“Olympus Has Fallen” isn’t bad at all; in fact, I’d recommend it for people who are just looking for a simple story with some well-staged action sequences. The performances by Butler and Eckhart were as good as the script allowed. Morgan Freeman cashes in another good pay check doing what he does best. But when a director has made so many films after “Training Day” and the posters for “Olympus Has Fallen” still tags the line “From the director of Training Day,” I for one am out of patience in hoping to see Fuqua return to his “Training Day”… days.