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Random thoughts about sound and vision.

Olympus Has Fallen: a black day for the White House

Washington DC. 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is under siege from heavily-armed North Korean terrorists. President Aaron Eckhart is held prisoner 120 foot below the Oval Office in his fortified bunker. And America's only hope of rescuing him prowls in the shadows of the West Wing - rogue ex-Secret Service agent, Gerard Butler...

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Yes, it's Die Hard in the White House. Or that's what action thriller Olympus Has Fallen aspires to be. Oh, it really wants to be Die Hard. One small drawback, however - it doesn't have a tenth of the style, wit or intelligence that film possesses. Not to mention that there are plot holes in the Olympus script big enough to fly Air Force One through. And whilst Gerard Butler is a decent enough actor and believable in his (many) fight scenes, he's no Bruce Willis.

But it's OK. Olympus holds its own alongside other Die Hard wannabes that are still a fun watch: Under Siege, Sudden Death and - er - Die Hard 2. Olympus also boasts an impressive supporting cast of Oscar winners and nominees - such as Morgan Freeman, Angela Bassett, Robert Forster - who between them manage to make the ham-fisted dialogue work.

Gerard Butler in Olympus Has Fallen

Gerard Butler in Olympus Has Fallen

Olympus Has Fallen is a decent enough popcorn movie - arguably not worth buying a cinema ticket for but certainly worth catching on its inevitable release on DVD. It's also that rare thing these days - a red in tooth-and-claw action thriller. Olympus is no heavily diluted Good Day To Die Hard nonsense. It wears its '15' certificate as a badge of pride, with bloody onscreen violence, a sky high body count and the 'F' word used in extremis. The initial attack on the White House - with terrorists strafing the Washington DC streets from their customised Hercules plane - has real impact, particularly in this post-9/11 world. True, there's some horribly shoddy VFX in this sequence but the action is efficiently directed by Antoine Fuqua and compellingly brutal.

It's also worth noting that this is not the only "White House under siege" movie we're getting this year. In one of those bizarre Deep Impact/Armageddon, Dante's Peak/Volcano-type coincidences, it's under attack again this summer in White House Down. Which is directed by Roland Emmerich, who, after Independence Day and 2012, has made levelling the President's official residence an art form in itself...