Movie Review: Olympus Has Fallen (Another Straw Drawn for Director Fuqua)

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“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The film also feels slightly out of date.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.

North Korea’s Belligerent Actions against South Korea: Brief Talk

At 0534GMT, North Korea began shelling the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong. The shelling lasted about an hour, killing two South Korean marines and injuring sixteen marines and three civilians.

Read the HuffPost Article here, and a more detailed article from the BBC here.

Either the big shots in North Korea are just messing with their neighbors in the South and the U.S., or this is something serious.

If this was just Kim Jong Un flexing his military muscle as the heir apparent, then the matter might pass without further conflict.

I’m also guessing this is an awkward and stressful moment for China, North Korea’s supposed ally. If Pyongyang decides to attack again, the U.S. might be forced to help defend South Korea, at which point the the North might seek help from the Chinese, at which point Japan and Russia will have to weigh in on the issue, and this time the six-parties probably won’t be talking.

Also, the BBC article quotes a spokesman for the Chinese foreign ministry as saying that it is imperative to restart the six party talks as soon as possible. No kidding. But while this is probably what everyone (maybe except for the North Koreans) still wants, isn’t it, for lack of a better word, so lame for the Chinese to be advocating six party talks right after a country has been bombarded by artillery?

One thing we need to keep in mind while looking at the situation in North Korea is just how little we know about the Communist Regime. While Kim Jong Il is the official leader, we know very little about who makes up his inner circle or who his close advisers are. The North’s official reason for the military action was that South Korea has been undergoing numerous exercises in the region despite their repeated warnings, but there are many reasons of which we can speculate as a result of us knowing so little about the North Koreans.

For all we know, it might well have been a loose cannon in the North Korean military who ordered the strikes without seeking prior approval from Pyongyang. Or, as I mentioned above, it might have been Kim Jong Un demonstrating to his future subjects that he will continue his father’s glory.

Whatever the reason was, the critical thing to do now is to find out more about the North Korean regime so that we could make some substantial predictions about the country’s actions in the future.

U.S. and China talk sanctions

Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

The US-China political problem is much more complicated than many make it out to be. Yes, China has America’s number because holds so much bonds and exports so much of its goods to the U.S., but on the other hand, China cannot afford to see the U.S. economy collapse because the value of the money that they hold will plunge and demand for Chinese-made goods will fall.

Having said that, the U.S. can’t exactly do much when big Chinese business stick their middle fingers up to sanctions and continue doing business with the Iranians (especially the energy companies). The entire Chinese government is part of China’s business juggernaut, and they’re not about to let money-making stop because America wants to stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.