I had the distinct pleasure of attending a premiere of Olympus Has Fallen on the second night of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). Politico called the event "Cannes for Conservatives" upon seeing the lineup that consisted of 19 scheduled movie screenings.
While the majority of them were documentaries produced by conservative groups like Citizens United, there was an exception or two. One of which was the action thriller Olympus Has Fallen, which is getting a nationwide release on Friday, March 22. Some viewers found it ironic and inappropriate that a movie starring Ashley Judd (for the first five minutes at least) would be shown at CPAC, but that's neither here nor there in my opinion.
Before the film began, one of the technical advisers briefly spoke about his role. Ricky Jones, a counter-terrorism expert provided consultation in the movie's production. "My job was to make the take-down of the White House seem plausible," he said.
Not an easy feat, considering the subject matter: North Korean commandos breach the White House's world-class security, taking the president and some of his cabinet members hostage. Suffice it to say, suspension of skepticism is necessary for enjoyment.
Asked earlier that same day by the Culture and Media Institute if he thought the movie was conservative, Jones confessed that he didn't know, but thought it promotes patriotism. "Again it's just a movie, but I think everybody should ... walk away with, 'Yeah, I'm proud to be an American'," he said. Devoid of the usual left-wing propaganda that Hollywood production studios usually churn out, I would venture to say that it was pro-patriotism.
Director Antoine Fuqua presided over an experienced cast of veteran actors who were capable enough to keep Olympus moving at a brisk pace. Gerard Butler excelled in his starring role as an ex-secret service agent who represented the nation's last and only hope. A relatively subdued audience became more enthusiastically involved as a result of his many exploits/
Showing as much gravitas as he did in 300, Butler seems to have re-established himself as a bankable actor. Whatever holes there were in the script were not as noticeable as they, otherwise, would've been. Even the cut-rate CGI could be forgiven in the end because of the skilled performances from all involved. Morgan Freeman, Aaron Eckhart, Angela Bassett, and Dylan McDermott also played major roles in the film.
Despite what may seem like an endorsement, it is not for me to say whether it is worth the price of admission. Seeing it for free, a week prior to its release, certainly has its advantages. Time will tell if I want to pay to see it again, but that takes nothing away from my enjoyment of the initial viewing. I would be remiss, however, if I didn't mention that I have a tendency to wait, rather than see it in the theater, anyway.
With a running time of just over two hours, and a well-deserved 'R' rating for violence and language, viewer discretion is advised. Overall, I'd give it a grade of B- (85%).