White House under Fire (and It's Not from the Gop) It's Not Space Aliens Attacking This Time Around

By Vancheri, Barbara | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA), March 22, 2013 | Go to article overview

White House under Fire (and It's Not from the Gop) It's Not Space Aliens Attacking This Time Around


Vancheri, Barbara, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)


Antoine Fuqua routinely casts manly men in his movies.

The Homewood native started with Chow Yun-Fat, moved on to Jamie Foxx, directed "Training Day" star Denzel Washington to his second Oscar and graduated to Bruce Willis, Clive Owen, Mark Wahlberg, Danny Glover, Wesley Snipes, Richard Gere, Don Cheadle and repeat star Ethan Hawke.

With "Olympus Has Fallen," Mr. Fuqua adds Gerard Butler and Aaron Eckhart to his roster and tackles nothing less than a takeover of the White House. This is no "Independence Day" with space aliens but an action thriller rooted in hyper-reality with Korean extremists as the main attackers.

Mr. Butler plays Mike Banning, a Secret Service agent (also ex- Special Forces) and sparring partner and pal to President Benjamin Asher (Mr. Eckhart). They mix it up in the boxing ring as the commander in chief jokes, "Hey, you're not supposed to hit the president."

The playful rope-a-dope is nothing compared with what lies ahead as the president, first lady and their young son head out in a snowstorm from Camp David for a Christmas party. One of the cars in the motorcade plunges off an icy bridge, with devastating consequences.

When the action jumps ahead by 15 months, a dispirited Mike is working at the Treasury Department, which puts him out of the immediate line of fire but close enough when the White House becomes the scene of a bloodbath and hostage-taking.

A state visit is disrupted by a catastrophic attack, and the presidential bunker becomes not a refuge but a prison. Yes, Olympus - - code for the White House -- has fallen, and the only man who can save the nation and president might be Banning.

No sense being coy, it is Banning, and after his box-office duds "Playing for Keeps," "Chasing Mavericks" and "Machine Gun Preacher," the Scottish-born actor could use a role that fits him like a Tom Ford suit. Not to mention a hit.

"Olympus" opens a week after the Pentagon said it will spend $1 billion to further safeguard the Pacific Coast from North Korea's weapons. …

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