Where “Die Hard” gave us average, everyday New York cop, John McClain, this film gives us average, everyday former Presidential security officer, Mike Banning. Where “Die Hard” gave us one of the most suave bad guys in cinematic history, this movie gives us one of the most boring bad guys in recent memory. And where “Die Hard” took place in a slick new high rise office tower, this flick takes us into the White House. And from there the comparisons tail off.
Firstly, let’s not get away from what this really is…a summer action flick that would have sunk at the box office had it opened in June. But instead of taking their chances, the studio released it when it could do the most damage and trust me…it does a LOT of damage in many ways…mostly in the form of mass destruction at the White House. 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. is gunned down, bombed, crashed into and completely annihilated in violence and mayhem. Its inhabitants are gunned down, gassed, beaten and tortured in many ways. The city of Washington is sent scurrying as planes and choppers and fighter pilots bombard the city from the air. It’s a video-gamers paradise, this movie, and it never gets a heartbeat to keep it alive.
Not that it doesn’t try. When we first meet the hero, secret agent Mike Banning (Gerard Butler), he’s buddies with the leader of our country (Aaron Eckhart…who I STILL see as Two-Face in “The Dark Knight”) and is in charge of protecting him. In a flash though, his entire life and career are turned around when the President’s car almost flips off an icy bridge, killing several people, and Banning is sent to be a “paper pusher.” Obviously he finds this line of work to be boring, so when the opportunity arrives in the shape of a hostile military takeover of the White House, Banning rushes in to save the day and his friend, The President.
Despite some of pretty cool action sequences and Gerard Butler doing a fair “John McClain” impression, this movie is NOT as interesting as it wishes it was. The writing is pretty tame (even attempting to have a good guy/bad guy exchange a la “Yippee Ki Yay, Motherf%$#er!”) and most of the high caliber talent, such as Morgan Freeman and Angela Bassett, are forced to sit at a desk and look pained over making tough decisions (Should we listen to the terrorist demands? Or do we send in the Seals to kick some ass?). Nevertheless, I didn’t hate this film. Despite all of the easy comparisons to “Die Hard,” it had its moments and even managed to make me squirm a little at times (especially since I was watching this movie at a theater IN Washington, DC!!!). Even then…I still say it would have sunk faster had it had been released 2 months later…
Overall Rating: C+