2013 seemed to be the year for ‘Die Hard’ rip-offs that were set in the White House. Well, there were two of them anyway. The first was Roland Emmerich’s ‘White House Down’, which wasn’t especially good. The second was Antoine Fuqua’s ‘Olympus Has Fallen’, which was arguably slightly worse. In fairness, both movies pass the time well enough if you’re in the mood for a ‘switch your brain off at the door’ action flick. Which I often am. There isn’t really much between them in terms of quality, but, if I had to pick a favourite because someone had a gun to my head, which is a plot device that features heavily in both movies (although no gun-holder in either of the movies is especially interested in movie preferences) then I might just lean, ever so slightly, towards ‘White House Down’.
But ‘White House Down’ has no links to Christmas, whereas ‘Olympus Has Fallen’ does. A bit. So that makes it the ultimate winner, because it gets to appear behind door 16 in The Fourth Annual James Proclaims Advent Calendar of Christmas(ish) Films, which is actually more prestigious than any Academy Award.
Unlike ‘White House Down’, which burned feebly at the box office and promptly disappeared from our memories, ‘Olympus Has Fallen’ turned out to be the first ‘quite bad film’ in a franchise of ‘quite bad films’, which all have titles that end in ‘Has Fallen’. I’ve seen them all, I’ll probably watch them all again one day when I’ve forgotten them and want to watch some mindless implausible action movies.
‘Olympus Has Fallen’ is probably better than either of it’s sequels, but they’re all much of a muchness. If you like this kind of thing, then all of the ‘Die Hard’ movies are better. Except ‘Die Hard 5’.
All of the ‘…Has Fallen’ movies are better than ‘Die Hard 5’. And ‘Olympus Has Fallen’ is quite a lot better than ‘Die Hard 5’.
It’s not much of an accolade but as ‘Die Hard 5’ also came out in 2013, then ‘Olympus Has Fallen’ can safely claim to not be the worst ‘Die Hard’ rip-off to come out that year. Although it remains marginally the worst to be set in the White House.
Score for Christmasishness
‘Olympus Has Fallen’ is obviously not a Christmas movie, and the bulk of the running time has nothing to do with the festive season. But the opening scenes, which serve as a kind of prologue, are set at Camp David at Christmas time, which you can tell because of all the decorations and relative good cheer. And then they go on a drive in the snow and crash and the president’s wife dies horribly and violently. Which ruins Christmas a bit and also sets the tone for what is a pretty cheerless movie from that point on.