The first of this year’s dueling Die Hard in the White House opuses (to be followed in June by Roland “Independence Day” Emmerich’s White House Down) begins with a slo-mo Old Glory and the first horns and snare drums of composer Trevor Morris’s John-Williams-on-steroids score—and, well, things get a lot more “America! Fuck yeah!” from there. Directed at a jingoistic fever pitch by Training Day‘s Antoine Fuqua, Olympus Has Fallen quickly hurtles through the bare minimum of exposition—a square-jawed, newly widowed POTUS (Aaron Eckhart); a brooding ex–Secret Service hotshot (Gerard Butler) who blames himself for the First Lady’s death—before unleashing a small army of North Korean baddies on Pennsylvania Avenue’s most desirable address. What follows is an all-you-can-eat buffet of shlock, from the retro, Robocop-era visual effects to the Delta Force–worthy parade of Oscar winners and nominees in peril (Secretary of State Melissa Leo, Speaker of the House Morgan Freeman, Secret Service Director Angela Bassett, Army Chief of Staff Robert Forster) to the utterly shameless 9/11 imagery (including Beltway tourists crushed by chunks of an imploding Washington Monument). A Red Dawn for the Tea Party era, Olympus Has Fallen is pretty ridiculously entertaining—or at least entertainingly ridiculous—for long stretches, dulled only by the realization that there are many parts of the country where this will play as less than total farce.
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This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on March 20, 2013