Please note this is not a review of Olympus Has Fallen but is does contain plot spoilers.
When I saw the lazy and lamentable A Good Day To Die Hard back in February I suggested the filmmakers take a look at the original classic Die Hard from 1988 to remind themselves what made it so great. Now two months later I have seen a film made by people who have clearly spent a lot of time watching Die Hard, so much so that at times it felt like a remake. It also had the benefit of a decent director in the shape of Antoine Fuqua. Although he has never recaptured the heights of Training Day (2001) he has made some good dumb fun like The Replacement Killers (1998) and Shooter (2007).
So with all this going for it Olympus Has Fallen must be a great film? Sadly it isn’t. at risk of damming with faint praise, it isn’t terrible. The problem, going far beyond the confined setting of Nakatomi Plaza/The Whitehouse, the movie totally lacks originality and actually takes key plot points from Die Hard. Including the failed helicopter assault, the hero bumping into one of the terrorist (who is pretending not to be a terrorist), and not forgetting the twist, where the terrorists motives are revealed to be different to what they first appeared to be.
Then we move onto Die Hard’s greatest asset, the villain, not only is Hans Gruber one of the best (and best written) villains in movie history, but he is played with relish by Alan Rickman, a great actor who was born to play the role. Rick Yune, isn’t terrible, but he lacks the menace of Rickman’s Gruber as well as an underwritten part.
Bruce Willis has become an action hero and is often mentioned in the same breath as fellow 80’s action stars Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger, what is often forgotten is Willis only earned this reputation because of Die Hard, prior to that he was best know as the star of TV romantic comedy drama. This everyman quality was one of the things that made John McClane agreat character and more importantly, Die Hard a great film. Casting the man best known for playing King Leonidas prevents any possibility of any everyman quality to Olympus Has Fallen, but it would have been so easy to solve this problem. Simply swap the casting around and making Aaron Eckhart the action hero and Gerard Butler (who also produced) the President.
So while I can’t condemn a filmmaker for following my advice of making a film more like Die Hard, I equally can’t praise them for remaking Die Hard. My plea, please come up with some original ideas. And this leads me to a final thought; last week I was left wondering how Oblivion would compare to the similarly themed After Earth due out later this year, Olympus Has Fallen isn’t the only White House under attack movie this year. White House Down is due for release in the summer, given that it is directed by Roland Emmerich, I suspect the American landmark will get even more trashed.