This time of year is often filled with film– folks are watching home videos, award nominations are announced, blockbusters are premiering, and, if your family is anything like mine, a couple lazy Netflix/Redbox nights are in store. This Christmas, my aunt chose for us all to watch Antoine Fuqua’s Olympus Has Fallen, and if it weren’t for the very loud, very frequent gun shots, I would have been “fallen” asleep.
Netflix’s summary of Fallen is this: “A disgraced Secret Service agent must come to the rescue when Korean terrorists descend on the White House and take the president hostage,” and yet, the violence came as a shock to many in my living room. Gerard Butler plays Mike Banning, the disgraced Secret Service agent who, after seeing the attack outside his office window, somehow runs through a sudden war zone to reach the White House, all while saving a bunch of innocent bystanders. Not to say he protects America right away– lots of things are destroyed, and countless people are killed, though Manning dashes through it all with only a tiny gun and is totally fine. It’s like a horrifying Gatorade commercial, but his sweat is a natural color.
Without spoiling too much for those interested in Fallen, know that Manning is able to use his secret Secret Service knowledge to get around in the White House, while President Asher (Aaron Eckhart) is trapped in the President’s Emergency Operations Center (PEOC) with a few of the terrorists. Let’s be honest– I first saw PEOC on Scandal, so I was disappointed when Olivia Pope didn’t simply enter the scene to handle it.
I’d be the first to admit I’m not an action movie fan, so to say I didn’t love Fallen isn’t as fair as it would be if, say, I didn’t love a 1940’s drama, but there were definite things I didn’t enjoy. First, Fuqua is really shoving ‘murica down viewers’ throats. There’s countless shots of bullet holes through the American flag, terrorists’ planes soaring over monuments, and then the Secretary of Defense McMillan (Melissa Leo) shouts The Pledge of Allegiance while being dragged by terrorists. Sigh. Second, Banning surviving all this nonsense is so outrageous, it’s comical, and the movie is meant, based on my first point, to be a patriotic drama. Even President Asher leaves the bunker with his tie still perfectly straight, and his sleeves nicely rolled up– he was wearing a suit jacket while being attacked just minutes before; I’m unsure when he had the time to become a J. Crew model. My third, and final, point of frustration would be the one-liners. In my opinion, these were used with the intent of making the film edgy, or even smart, but instead they add to the laughs of Fallen. I’d offer some examples, but wouldn’t that ruin the fun?