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Olympus Has Fallen (DQ)


Stars: Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Morgan Freeman, Angela Bassett, Radha Mitchell, Rick Yune, Dylan McDermott, Melissa Leo, Finley Jacobsen, Robert Forster, Cole Hauser, Michael Dudikoff

Director: Antoine Fuqua

With the North Koreans making warlike noises on the other side of the 49th Parallel, Fuqua's disaster action thriller is nothing if not topical. Of course, it's not your actual Koreans invading Washington here, but a paramilitary wing led by the ruthless Kang (Yune).

They certainly have a lot of hardware though: an aircraft packed with deadly tracer weapons strafes the city's population while 'sanitation' vans open outside the White House to reveal dozens of heavily-armed men, who soon mow down the President's security staff, while, in the White House bunker with the Prez (Eckhart) himself, the visiting South Korean president's men are revealed to be North Korean assassins who dispatch most of those therein, take the Prez and his remaining staff hostage and demand the withdrawal of American warships and troops from Korea's demilitarised zone.

'They've taken the White House,' gasps a hapless aide. But wait. One American remains amid the wreckage. No, it's not Bruce Willis, but agent Mike Banning (Butler), now a pen-pusher, but once the President's top security man who holds himself responsible for the death of the First Lady (a briefly-glimpsed Ashley Judd).

Inevitably, this has been dubbed Die Hard in the White House but, although entertaining in its predictably violent way, it isn't really in the class of the Willis original. It does give Butler his best role in a while (unsurprisingly, he's one of the film's producers) but even he lacks the charisma and chutzpah a young Willis could have brought to the role.

Eckhart is OK, if somehow not very presidential or statesmanlike, while Freeman, as the Speaker of the House who becomes acting president, has been this disastrous way before, A similar competitor, White House Down, will be with us ere long.

David Quinlan

USA 2013. UK Distributor: Lionsgate. Colour by deluxe.
117 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 0, Swearing 2.

Review date: 20 Apr 2013