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While ori­gin­al Die Hard dir­ect­or John McTiernan lan­guishes in min­im­um secur­ity fed­er­al pris­on his heirs are keep­ing the action movie flame alive. Most recently, Antoine Fuqua’s Olympus Has Fallen might as well be called Die Hard at the White House as one man attempts to res­cue the host­ages held cap­tive in the impreg­nable bunker beneath the most fam­ous Palladian man­sion in the world. North Korean ter­ror­ists have man­aged to take con­trol of the build­ing and the President (Aaron Eckhart), Secretary of Defence (Melissa Leo) – and some extras play­ing the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs etc. – are all cable-tied to a rail­ing while acting-President Morgan Freeman and Chief of the Secret Service Angela Bassett are power­less at the Pentagon.

What the bad guys don’t know is that dis­graced former Secret Service (and Special Forces, natch) dude Gerard Butler heard the shoot­ing and crossed town from his low level secur­ity job at Treasury to sneak in to the build­ing before total lock­down. Now, he’s tak­ing out the trash one by one but can he res­cue the President’s son (Finley Jacobsen) and save the free world before every nuke in the American arsen­al goes “boom”.

Luckily for audi­ences, Fuqua’s no fool so the exe­cu­tion occa­sion­ally res­ults in an elev­ated heart rate, par­tic­u­larly the well-staged open­ing attack from both ground, air and inside the White House. It’s quite charm­ing that his film still thinks that the U.S. President actu­ally has any real power when recent events have shown the exact oppos­ite and the leadership’s will­ing­ness to trade 50 mil­lion South Korean lives for one middle-aged white man in a suit is kind of ador­able, don’t you think?

I’ve expressed my dis­taste for Mr. Butler sev­er­al times before in these pages and he does noth­ing here that might win me over. Oh, how I yearned for a hero with a self-deprecating sense of humour instead of a con­stip­ated look of unshaven dis­com­fort. In fact, a sense of humour is in pretty short sup­ply through­out Olympus Has Fallen, start­ing with the out­rageously pom­pous title.

My prob­lems with Gerard Butler are largely – I’ve been told – a mat­ter of taste. In fact, just this week­end I was told that he was quite an attract­ive man (as movie stars go) and, pre­sum­ably, there are enough people who share that opin­ion for him still to be star­ring in expens­ive movies. It’s an awk­ward concept to raise in a film review, taste. We’re sup­posed to be above all that – empir­ic­ally object­ive, sit­ting in even-handed judge­ment so that our stars, toma­toes or thumbs can guide you all to cine­mat­ic enlight­en­ment. Which would be nice, but really we’re just arguing for our taste and – hope­fully – my taste meshes enough with yours that you con­tin­ue to find this ser­vice useful.

Taste was also on my mind late on Saturday night as a settled in to a per­ish­ingly cold Embassy Theatre for Evil Dead, a film that I would not nor­mally choose but which I was forced to endure to a) serve you, dear read­er, and b) keep up my record of see­ing everything for the last six years.

Unlike many genu­ine movie lov­ers, I’m not a big fan of being frightened in a cinema – or dis­gus­ted if it comes to that – but I can recog­nise when a film deliv­ers on its own inten­tions and when the craft on dis­play is palp­ably first-rate. In this reboot of the fam­ous low budget tri­logy that launched the careers of Spider-Man’s Sam Raimi and Xena’s Rob Tapert, four young people have gathered at a remote cab­in in the woods to per­form an inter­ven­tion. Mia (Jane Levy) is determ­ined to finally kick her habit and her friends (Lou Taylor Pucci and Jessica Lucas) and broth­er David (Shiloh Fernandez) are their to sup­port her through withdrawal.

In a colossally bad decision, Mr. Pucci’s char­ac­ter Eric reads aloud an incant­a­tion from the spook­i­est book of occult images and spells ima­gin­able – des­pite the clear warn­ing “DO NOT READ” writ­ten in blood on the oppos­ite page. These mor­ons deserve everythng they get, don’t they? A demon is raised that takes pos­ses­sion of poor Mia and then it’s all on for young and old as a long rainy night res­ults deliv­ers bar­rels of fake blood and some very effect­ive pros­thet­ics. Like I say, not really my bag but respect­able and effective.

A late entry in the con­test for school hol­i­day atten­tion is the light­hearted and light­weight Escape from Planet Earth about a pair of ali­ens trapped in Area 51 by a power-crazed General with the voice of William Shatner. These blue beings are benign – if a little naïve – but their co-incarceratees are reduced to tired eth­nic clichés as a way to get their laughs. Aimed at roughly the same age group as Fox’s The Croods but about half as suc­cess­fully, Escape is likely to prove use­ful in week two of the hol­i­days if the weath­er doesn’t play ball.


  • molliebrown says:

    oh dear! I had to look up the word anbar­ic, rare for me to have to look up a word! Electricity? Further, I had a shock when I saw the word Newtown, and then dis­covered it was in New Zealand, not Connecticut. 

    You have not exactly explained why you do not like Gerard. He is someone women like though…a LOT! We loved watch­ing him slink around the White House snap­ping ter­ror­ist necks, and killing Persians in 300. I per­son­ally do not think the title is all that pom­pous. Sorry you have no equi­val­ent place of power in your lovely coun­try, but still, it is a pretty potent build­ing to take on. I have nev­er seen Die Hard, (I think that one is more for men than women). The Olympus film had a lot of errors, but that is under­stand­able giv­en that it was moved up three months or so to beat White House Down. I think they lost post pro­duc­tion time. 

    I sus­pect men will nev­er really get the fas­cin­a­tion with Gerard. His female fans (and they are glob­al) just like to see him walk, even just walk across the street. We also love his hands…

    Would you like him bet­ter in two older films, Dear Frankie and One More Kiss, both Scottish films? He did a good job in Shattered, which unfor­tu­nately was nev­er well dis­trib­uted. Had Pierce Brosnan and Maria Bello in it. Oh well, I learned a new word, thanks!

    • Dan says:

      Nice to hear from you.

      I had high hopes for Mr. Butler after Dear Frankie but since then, I’m afraid, every per­form­ance just gives me the scream­ing shits. But I do appre­ci­ate that he has appeal, oth­er­wise he would be back roam­ing the Scottish highlands.