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Olympus Has Fallen/White House Down

Yeah, let's fight.

In the realm of unbelievable plot, we have OHF, where we have the prez and his whole cabinet wimping out for no good reason in five minutes flat, since I'm pretty sure the prez gets "what-if-you're-taken-hostage" briefings that are a whole lot more interesting than the ones we got in the Army, and soldiers get the POW code drilled into them. Yeah, the prez in this movie is that dude who was in that Black Hawk Down/War of the Worlds flick where LA got invaded by cheapo special effects from outer space, who apparently brought Every.Fucking.Last.Goddamn.Military.Heartwarming.Cliché.with them. Aaron something? Beats me, I'm not looking it up. He was in a Frankenstein movie, too. Which reminds me---- How come Hollywood gets the military so wrong?? There's manly jaw-clenching, death letters, the naive lewie, the sgt-with-a-past, the soldier who talks to tombstones, and the tragic past for selected characters. At no point does anybody EVER develop an actual personality, though there's the male virgin whose fate is supposed to let us know that no rules are safe. Yeah, except mildly sexist jokes are okay. At one point---a different one--- Our Hero asks Michelle Rodriguez's character if she's "ready to use that weapon." Yeah, that's a civvie's conception. In reality, I've seen lots of Marines go, "fuck this, I'm a Marine, if I wanna talk about my emotions, I goddamn will." I will say, there are a couple of nice moments---with a kid, a confrontation, a moment involving a chopper---but those are entirely the doing of the actors.

I've gotten very aware lately of actors being....well, actor-y, and once you see it, you can't unsee it. The two best movies I've seen, lately, about terrorism/war have been "United 93" and "Green Zone" the latter of which made me flinch in too many spots. They're both spare, stark movies full of pared-to-the-bone performances which you can fill with your own emotions, so you become a participant in some acutely emotional moments. GZ brought back memories it was so accurate. U93 drained me. It doesn't sound complimentary, but it is, because both did it with honesty and understatement. There's something deeply unnerving and yet exorcising about being made a participant in a film's emotions that way.

So. Whoops. Tangent. Anyway, President Jawclench here has Gerard Butler playing the Bruce Willis role, while Rick Yune chews on the scenary and Angela Bassett gets wasted in a nothing supporting role. Morgan Freeman plays Morgan Freeman. The North Koreans infiltrate the White House with the aid of an actor whose first name begins with D----Dylan? Dermott? Whatever, I always get him mixed up with another guy with a similar name.

Anyway, if you want a believable plot, I worry about you, do you have a fever? I will admit that the battle scenes are spectacular but implausible----where DID they take off from in a C130, anyway? There's just too many layers of security they'd have to penetrate to pull that off, and frankly, the DRNK's intel capability is hilariously inadequate to the task. Slightly more believeable---on the scale set by the whole C130 thing, mind you----is the attack which takes out the fence and perimeter. The actual battle? Nope. The Secret Service has to be made up of coma patients for that battle to go and end the way it did, though hiven the news lately about fence hoppers.... But of course, who cares, it's an action movie, what was I thinking?

The next hour or so are Butler rescueing the Prez's kid, torturing Koreans, and struggling with American vowels. Oh, yeah, and the cabinet buckles under immediately, every last one of them. Then the American bad guy has a change of heart, and finally there's a fight with Yune and Butkler that demonstrates Good Ole American Values....by a Scot... and the obligatory quip by the Prez that redeems his character somewhat. Somewhere in there we have the moment-of-horror that's supposed to tug at the heartstrings: the flag on the White House flagpole gets tossed to the ground. If they really wanted to tug on the ole heartstrings, they should have flown that at the end, bullet holes and all, because I'm pretty sure after all that, it counts as a battle flag. Battle flags may be repaired but never respectfully destroyed, as are peacetime flags. The actual flag that's referenced in "The Star-Spangled Banner", for example (during the war of 1812, when the White House was burned by the British) still hangs in the Smithsonian, musket ball holes and all. (This is also supposed to be the flag that Betsy Ross sewed, but I'm rusty on that.)

So, even for a movie of this type....yeah, well. Um. God, they really need to stop trying to write speeches that sound stirring for this kind of movie. This is supposed to be where we see the Prez shake Butler's hand at a press conference, because Butler's redeemed himself (for some of his roles)---no, I mean, for letting the First Lady die in a totally likely accident on a bridge at the beginning of the movie. Did I forget to mention that? Good, because I'm so sick of the contrived tragic past thing. The First Lady is played by Ashley Judd, which is a bad sign for her career. Hetting killed off really doesn't seem symbolic in Hollywood, if you're a woman of "a certain age."

Which brings us to "White House Down", which was more silly but also more fun.

This one, too, featured a disgruntled insider---or, actually, a whole pile of disgruntled insiders, as the whole team was American. Instead of an experienced rah-rah dude, we get Channing Tatum and his bewildering porn star/corporation name, and his extraordinarily geeky/tech savvy daughter.

Never much cared for Tatum before this, I have to say. I only saw him in the fifteen-or-so minutes of that Nicholas Sparks movie he was in before I realized I liked my lunch where it was, plus I resent the idea I'm supposed to lust after such a squat, assembled-by-committee guy. He's one of those guys that men tell women we must like, because other men admire shit like more and bigger and bulgier, so women absolutely have to. If course, that makes us shallow, while men get to fantasize about how Gorean life would be if they had biceps the size of a baby's body.

Tatum is kind....square, and I really don't go for that. Seriously, at one point, I thought he was a Potato-American. Then I saw a picture from Comic Con. The stage was full of highly-paid actors who played superheroes----and there was 92-year-old Stan Lee, trying to get down the stairs by himself. Tatum was the only one who literally offered him a hand, or, rather, a charitable arm.

So, anyway, one of the heroes here is the Tatum character's daughter. Total geek girl and suspiciously precocious political junkie at an early age. The villains are basically what you would expect the gamergate/ Republican Youth to age into, once they figure out hatred isn't a substitute for either brains or talent. They all seem to be actors trying to turn themselves into Ayn Rand fanboys when in reality they spend all their time in the makeup trailer writing "Barrack Obama +(insert name)" on their Trapper Keeper covers. Yeah, not Bernie fans. The movie's a bit too old for that demographic. He seems to attract exactly the sort of 20something dudertarians who want to think they're not conservatives, even while they're utter assholes online.

Anyhoo, the embittered losers take over the White House while Tatum & Daughter get separated, meet the Prez, (a rumpled Jamie Foxx, lots of fun), and in general, look like what they're doing----a car chase across the South Lawn, with guys spraying .249 fire at one another??---- is in any way remotely plausible. I mean, Tatum opens the movie by having a chat with a squirrel about his impending job interview at the White House. Yes, I mean that. No, I am not making that up. Insert your own joke about Hollywood *here.*

Anyhoo, overall, this is lots more fun than the other one, mostly because while the cast here is game, they aren't weighed down by the heavy pretense of the other plot. Geopolitical issues? Nah, let's just blow shit up.

There's snappier dialogue, a lighter touch, and pissier villains, plus in general, everybody is a sassy ass. The cast isn't as full of big budget heavyweights, which probably helps. But, anyway, I keep wondering if switching casts and/or plots or both would be better, and I don't know.

Poor Rick Yune. What a thankless job. He gets the worst lines, role, and payoff.

Anyway, they're making a sequel to Olympus Has Fallen, which is called...London Has Fallen. London has never fallen, so I fear this is going to be stupid in ways that are utterly inconveivableand posdibly offensive. These are people who gave Hitler the V sign, and I don't mean for victory.

You've been warned.

Comments

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
katyakoshka
Dec. 7th, 2015 09:57 pm (UTC)
1. I have not seen either Green Zone or United 93

2. Aside from a lack of military experience and the perspective that provides, I strongly agree with your reviews of Olympus Has Fallen (so painful by the end) and White House Down (fun; a little more character development to Tatum, his daughter and Foxx's president; significantly more plausible on the villains). My husband would also probably agree, as we came to similar conclusions during our back-to-back viewing party (might have been over New Year's).

3. I also agree with you on Channing Tatum. While I hadn't known about Tatum helping Stan Lee, his performance in WHD was definitely a pleasant surprise.
ginmar
Dec. 7th, 2015 10:47 pm (UTC)
You must go see both those movies right now. Just not on the same night. Have a double feature with something light-hearted, though. GZ is the first time I've seen somebody give a fairly-accurate portrait of a service member.
amethyst_hunter
Dec. 9th, 2015 07:16 am (UTC)
Channing Tatum and his bewildering porn star/corporation name

LOL!! He's an okay actor, but he does nothing for me in the attraction department. Not my type. (Saw him in Magic Mike and my only thought was "way too much muscly; boring.")
ginmar
Dec. 9th, 2015 12:13 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I still haven't see that, and probably won't. Joe Mangeomello (?)crerps the fuck out of me.
amethyst_hunter
Dec. 12th, 2015 07:43 am (UTC)
You're not missing anything, heh. (Not a Joe Mangiowhatshisname fan either)
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )