Darke Reviews | Olympus Has Fallen (2013)

If you haven’t heard of it, I am not surprised. The studio didn’t market this one heavily and after watching it I am left with a burning question – Why the frak not? We could not escape the advertisements of the wanna be Die Hard movie and it was an apocalyptic piece of celluloid garbage next to this. AGDtDH (I refuse to type it out) director John Moore needs to talk to Olympus has Fallen director Antoine Fuqua on how to do a Die Hard movie, much less how to direct an action movie.

This film is what Die Hard 5 should have been. Antoine (Shooter, Training Day) delivers in his usual directorial sense an action movie with no holds barred and no F-Bombs left behind. This movie is a bloody, brutal love letter to the original Die Hard. I swear there’s even a handful of scenes where I think the script writers paused writing, watched the original Die Hard and went – “How can do we do a scene like that?”. John McTiernan (director of the original Die Hard) would be proud of the bromance between these two films if he was allowed back in the U.S. Notice all my references to Die Hard? You should – this movie truly is Die Hard in the White House.

Fuqua pulls together a list of actors you know that is really quite impressive – Gerard “300” Butler, Aaron “Two Face” Eckhart, Rick “Ninja Assassin” Yune, Melissa Leo, Radha Mitchell, Angela “should have been Storm” Bassett, Cole Hauser, Dylan McDermot, Ashley Judd, and Morgan -mother frakin- Freeman. The movie starts with a car accident on an icy bridge after letting you get to know a few of the characters and their relationships. We have President Asher (Eckhart) and the head of his Secret Service detail Mike Banning (Butler). A few months later after things went pear shaped, we have tensions with the 21st century boogeyman – the North Koreans, on the rise. Approximately 20 minutes of time is devoted to character introductions. After that, it’s time for the bang. There is a lot of Bang. And Boom. And “Ow!!!!” Butler is everything we should expect of our action stars these days. The quips are few. The fights are brutal and efficient. The fights actually make you believe this guy has been trained to, oh I don’t know kill every person in the room that isn’t supposed to be there.

For all my enjoyment the movie is not flawless. It required one specific leap that would not happen. Once the Secret Service goes into action to protect the President, the President no longer gets a say in what happens to those around him. Their job is him, no one else. There are a handful of other moments that had me ask Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, but then I remembered I am watching a movie where the White House is getting attacked and taken over. I let some of the logic fails slide. One I cannot let slide is the subplot of the movie; where the moment the McGuffin is introduced I as the audience member understand the plan. Generals, Secret Service and other people ostensibly smarter than I am (character wise) do not see this “twist” coming. It angered me. With everything else executed so well, this Fail is kinda a let down.

for the TL;DR crowd –

If you are an action movie fan – see the first action movie worth a damn this year!!!
If you are a fan of any of the actors mentioned – See the damn thing!!
If you like the director – see the damn thing!

If you are not a fan of violent action – Give this a pass. I did mention the fight scenes are brutal. I am not joking. Knives are not to be messed with.

And for gods sake, if anyone who does read these reviews of mine knows anyone in Hollywood – point them to THIS movie on how to do an action movie or the next Die Hard the RIGHT WAY.

Olympus may have fallen, but thankfully the action movie has not.

Darke Reviews | A Good Day to Die Hard (2013)

Have you ever cooked your favorite meal, or ordered it from a restaurant and brought it home only to forget about it and have it go bad on you? That face you make when you open the container and smell how rotten its gotten? That moment of despair when something you truly enjoyed has gone bad? The vain hope that some part of it can be salvaged….?

That’s how I felt watching this movie. I love the original Die Hard, it is a Christmas tradition in my home. Die Hard II, still excellent and often quoted. Die Hard 3, less so, but it has it’s moments. Die Hard IV….well that’s when the meal started to go bad. This….this is Rancid.

Every good Die Hard film has an “every man” that you can relate to in John McClane. He is a man who is placed into situations beyond his control and you root for him to survive. The odds are nigh impossible, yet to a certain Hollywood logic plausible. THe world is “ours” with just the slightest nudge into action fantasy. These situations pushed our every man to his limits and nearly broke his body and his will. We were with him all the way.

That’s where Die Hard 5 begins to fail. He delivers himself into the situation and stops being our every man. He becomes a typical action hero walking away from not one, but two accidents and an explosion with nary a scratch. Thats in the first twenty minutes. To be honest I nearly walked out then…but I had to see the train wreck through to the end.

It didn’t get better. Yes he does get injured, but this was a nightmare of his own making with a contrived plot that suffers under the weight of it’s own BS. The movie does surprise me at least once, but that was it.

The rest of it was an action movie with Bruce Willis. Had it not been called Die Hard anything I might have enjoyed it a bit more. This was actually a better Bourne film than the most recent one.

If you are a completest and have no choice but to see it. I am sorry for you. If you are a Bruce Willis fan and just don’t care that it’s titled Die Hard, you will get a Matinee’s moneys worth.

Otherwise…steer clear of this. Go see Warm Bodies or wait a few weeks for one of the major March releases. Tomorrow evening I plan to see Beautiful Creatures and hopefully am less disappointed in that then I was this …thing they called a Die Hard film.