Friday, March 22, 2013

"Olympus Has Fallen" is essentially "Red Dawn III"


The big “B movie” opening this weekend, “Olympus Has Fallen”, starts with a conventional but detailed prologue at Camp David in the Maryland Catoctin Mountains, right before Christmas.  At about 1200 feet elevation , they have a real snowstorm just before Christmas.  The Secret Service, led in part by Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) leads the entourage which has a horrible accident on icy roads.  Banning gets blamed with the first lady dies in the accident.

The “plot” of the movie, then, has a lot to do with the “opportunity Banning has to save the president (Aaron Eckhart) and indeed the whole country right after July 4, eighteen months later, after a North Korean mercenary terrorist attack on the White House.

You read right.  This movie is “Red Dawn III” (see my “cf disaster movies” blog Nov. 22, 2012 for this franchise) in practice.  It starts with a C130 that invades DC air space with unbelievable defense against missiles, shooting up the White House and surrounding area with a gattling gun. Then there is a ground attack, which captures the House and holds the president and all his staff hostages.  You know what the title of the movie means.  North Korean terrorist Tao-Woo (Keong Sim) is as mean as they come, and is on the verge of getting the US to blow up all of its own nuclear weapons on its own soil to destroy the county , through compromise of various security codes by this “home invasion” – preposterous to be sure, but maybe a telling lesson for ordinary home security.   There is some Marxist ideological talk about the evils of Wall Street and the need to bring everyone in the world equally low.

This movie doesn’t provide much or a “warning” because the plot really couldn’t happen.  What could be more likely would be local EMP (electromagnetic pulse) attacks with microwaves, or “radiation dispersion devices” or possibly bioterror.  One can imagine a scenario where any ideologically extreme group could try this to bring the country down, and that thought is scary.  Yes, Communism could still “try-catch”  it, and it’s conceivable that North Korea or Iran (maybe not so much the old Al Qaeda any more) could pull something.  In one of my novel manuscripts from the 1980s. “Red” infiltrators contaminate New York City, causing a mass evacuation when one of the main protagonists is in a bathhouse (this dates back to 1982, before AIDS was fully understood).   Early in my coming of age (in the early 1970s), I was exposed to some on the radical Left who wanted to plot such awful things out of their own indignation that some people could be richer than others  (maybe at the expense to others). This grim scenario has been possible for decades.
Morgan Freeman seems a bit kind as the Speaker of the House, officially in charge of the nation from the Pentagon bunker at 3 AM.  Breaking news points out that this is the first time the White House has fallen since the War of 1812.

Of course, the release of the movie this weekend is coincidentally timely, given North Korea's recent bellicose threats to annihilate Washington, and its cancellation of the armistice with the South.  A war with the South sounds like a real possibility.  Maybe there is something to the Domino Theory (that justified drafting me in 1968) after all. 
   
The official site (Filmdistrict and Millennium) is here


I saw this film in a large auditorium at Regal Cinemas in Arlington VA, before a moderate crowd at the early evening show.
  
The film is frantic in pacing, and sometimes seems almost silly. Compare it to “Zero Dark Thirty” which seems measured and real by comparison.
   
One other point. On 9/11, there were brief incorrect reports very early in the event that the Washington Monument had been struck, which happens in this film.  It is possible that, had Flight 93 not been downed by the passengers, that it could have hit the White House or Capitol, but both would have been evacuated.   The attackers might have done more harm toward decapitating the government (as Dick Cheney calls it) had they chosen these targets  before they hit the Pentagon, which was completely repaired physically within one year.  I’ve covered the “conspiracy theories” in other movie reviews.  

I never heard the White House called Olympus before.  As if it deserved to be named after a volcano on Mars. 

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