So errr...'Die Hard' in the White House? hmmm actually no. Take a bit of 'Die Hard', quite a bit of 'Air Force One' and stir in some 'Under Siege' and the result is this. Pretty much the best darn homage to late 80's early 90's action thrillers to come along for sometime. The last decent film I saw that managed to emulate the golden ear of action was Stallone's 'Rambo'. Put it this way, this is what I wanted to see from 'The Expendables', not the spoofy parody shit we got, this is real action gentlemen.
During talks with the South Korean PM the White House is attacked/stormed by North Korean guerrilla forces and virtually brought to its knees. Tonnes of people are killed, both civilian and uniformed, as the barrage hits, of course there is treachery in the ranks within the White House as the bad guys make themselves known. The only man left standing inside the Presidents home is Gerard 'Banning' Butler. Its now up to John McCla...err I mean Banning to get his revenge and kill everybody, (no vests involved).
Yep modern times, the Ruskies and Taliban are out, its now time for the Korean threat (China next). First impressions are good, fecking good! the initial siege on the White House/the grounds is easily the best action sequence I've seen for some time yes sir. Its fast, ultra violent, non stop breathless pulsating action, men (and women) are blown away on both sides all over the show, you want bullet holes in bodies, you got it.
This battle rages on for at least 15mins!! an Lockheed AC-130 flies overhead mowing down hundreds of innocents whilst taking down fighter jets, masses of guerrillas storm the White House front lawns armed to the teeth, RPG's, mini guns, snipers taking peoples heads off, suicide bombers oh my! its brutal stuff and I loved it!.
Of course there are some issues that popped into my head as this all kicked off. As the Lockheed flies overhead splattering everyone, many of the secret service and police on the ground fire up at it with their hand guns, why? do you really think that's gonna do anything?!. I'm also pretty sure no plane would get anywhere near the White House in reality, it would be taken down long before that I'm sure. I'm also surprised at how slow the response times are in this film, yes I know its an action film and meant to convey dramatic suspense through artistic license but really?. This is the White House we're talking about, wouldn't the place be swarming with special ops, military police/SWAT, secret service, police, regular military etc...from every nook n cranny??.
It really does seem like it takes ages for the cavalry to arrive which I'm sure would be much quicker in reality, plus I'm also sure those at the location wouldn't get wiped out quite so easily (remember, its the White House, most secure location in world...right??). Yes again...I know its a film but geez! US personnel get some poor representation here! they're all pretty stupid and get blown away as if they were rookies, maybe I'm being too harsh on them?. Also must point out the huge flaws in intelligence to even let such a massive underground terrorist operation get by, and when I mean operation...I mean world war III in the Presidents front garden. But hey...its an action film, can't look into it too deeply.
After this powerhouse of an opening the film does maintain the course and keep you interested, not quite as good naturally but still solid. Its hard to think how the film can continue really seeing as everyone appears to have been killed straight away, good guys definitely. But there does seem to be a never ending stream of cannon fodder in terms of the bad guys.
Never the less this really is the perfect action flick, I can't stress enough how well this works and how much it made me recall certain thrillers of the 80's/90's. There are no stupid one liners, no visual gags, no cheese, no dull ass romances and the kiddie in danger element is dealt with quickly so as to get back into the violence...perfect. The whole film is quite dark throughout actually, lots of bullets to the head, vicious knife assaults, beatings, slayings and some really kickass fight sequences, mainly Butler vs Yune in the finale. But Butler shows us his special ops kill methods along the way. That's one difference between this modern era of action flicks and the old generation, the fights are much more stylised, realistic and focused on military tactics, back in the day they were merely scuffles in comparison.
End of the day this could easily be another chapter in John McClane's life for sure. Its a hodgepodge of various action flick ideas, some more so than others. Anyone notice the two 'Die Hard' sequences? when 'Banning' runs into his colleague 'Forbes' (Dylan McDermott) who does a 'Hans Gruber' act on him pretending to be a good guy. Then the sequence where the SEALs are brought in and get shot down...just like in 'DH' when the FBI are drafted in and get shot down, both sequences in choppers.
Shame they use too much CGI in this film too, unfortunately it looks like CGI and its a bit naff frankly, too obvious. You see, back in the day John McTiernan used real choppers for his shots, tisk tisk!. But I guess they had to for some shots, but they didn't for others pfft!.
Move over Dwayne Johnson, Vin Diesel, Jeremy Renner, Chris Hemsworth, Hugh Jackman errr...Robert Downey Jr, Gerard Butler has just reaffirmed his place as the new REAL action man for our era. Along with Jason Statham, Liam Neeson, Scott Adkins, Daniel Craig, Tom Hardy and Christian Bale the Brits firmly rule the waves in the Hollywood action genre right now no question (US born action stars seem to be a dying breed).
A true gritty adult action thriller with no beating around the bush, the likes I haven't seen for some time. Overly patriot and nothing original but lets be honest here what are you expecting? look at the plot, of course its gonna be gung-ho and knee deep in Stars n Stripes. Its a balls to the wall action flick and that's exactly what you get. I salute you Antoine Fuqua (does the White House really have rocket launchers surrounding it that come out of the ground?).