Egads! White House seized in film thriller

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Egads! White House seized in film thriller

With a blend of patriotism, adrenaline and testosterone, Americans can gird for what might be the first big thriller flick of the year — and with North Koreans as the bad guys, to boot.

By (AFP)

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Published: Fri 22 Mar 2013, 10:36 AM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 11:07 AM

British actor Gerard Butler jumps back into action in ‘Olympus Has Fallen,’ playing an ex-Secret Service agent who must save the White House from a ruthless attack by North Korean terrorists who have taken the president hostage.

The film has good prospects for the shoot-’em-up demographic after the fifth installment of the ‘Die Hard’ franchise with Bruce Willis turned out to be a box office dud.

The new movie, which opens Friday in the United States, was produced by Butler, who also stars in it. He shot to international fame with the epic Greek fantasy ‘300’ in 2006. The cast of this latest one boasts Oscar-winners Melissa Leo and Morgan Freeman.

Directed by Antoine Fuqua — who was also behind ‘Training Day,’ which earned an Oscar in 2002 for Denzel Washington — the film goes like this: a nasty North Korean militia attacks and overruns the White House (code name, Olympus) and takes the president, played by Aaron Eckhart, and other officials as hostages.

They include the secretary of defence, played by Leo.

Former secret service agent Mike Banning, played by Butler, manages to infiltrate the White House and contact the acting president, Freeman, who has to trust him to save the president and spare the world from nuclear disaster.

Butler plays a hero driven by internal reasons.

‘In some aspects, he’s probably not different than most other people,’ the Scottish actor told AFP. The guy has personal issues and a life to deal with, but has to get on with it, ‘because the world is falling apart around him.’

The ex-agent has ‘laser beam focus, but with an extra grim desire about relishing the prospect to finally being able to perform a function that he’s been trained to do in his whole life and with an extra... brutality towards the guys in the house,’ said Butler, 43.

But it remains to be seen how Americans still haunted by the images of the September 11 terror attacks of 2001 will digest parts of this one. The White House is seen in ruins after the North Korean attack and the Washington Monument obelisk crumbles in a way reminiscent of the Twin Towers’ collapse.

Todd McCarthy, reviewing the movie in The Hollywood Reporter, wrote that it ‘generates a fair amount of tension and produces the kind of nationalistic outrage that rock-ribbed Americans will feel in their guts.’ He labeled the movie a ‘macho thriller.’

For scenes inside the White House — full of hideouts and secret passage ways — and for depicting how Secret Service agents might respond to an in-your-face and up-close terror attack — the producers consulted former members of the Secret Service, the FBI and CIA.

Butler said these consultants helped simulate an attack down to the last detail: from the minimum number of assailants needed to storm and control the White House to the kind of weapons that would be the most effective.

‘But we weren’t given all the secrets. They can play more tricks up their sleeves,’ said Butler, who last year starred in the romantic comedy ‘Playing for Keeps.’

Director Fuqua said the impact for Americans should be great: the stately greatest symbol of American power collapsing like the Roman empire.



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