I knew something was amiss when, a week before its release date, I finally saw a trailer for Olympus Has Fallen. Given how much I keep up with movies, how had I heard not one thing about this movie? I pondered this question until I finally saw the movie and then I understood everything.
This movie is just really something else in the pantheon of terribleness. Rather than get into it I will say it is one of the most gratuitously violent movies I have ever seen. There is lots of murder in the name of patriotism and it is bloody.
I will tell you about one terrible scene. At one point, the movie cuts to a picture of the treasury department and in the corner, we see Treasury Department, 10:15 am, only…there's no scene. They immediately then cut to a scene at the White House. It was SO FUNNY. The overall attitude throughout this movie was “fuck editing.”
I will also note that Olympus Has Fallen marks the return of our first black president, Morgan Freeman.
NEVER FORGET! (Deep Impact was such a great movie, right?)
The good news is that there's a similar movie coming out this summer called White House Down, starring my man Channing Tatum so it's all good.
Speaking of my man Channing, I saw G.I. Joe: Retaliation which was exactly what it was supposed to be–ridiculous, action packed, and pretty. I LOVED it.
When the movie opens, a small unit of Joes are in North Korea. If you hadn't noticed, North Korea is now the go-to villain in movies (see: Olympus Has Fallen, Red Dawn remake, etc). There's some lame banter meant to establish character that actually establishes nothing. Roadblock, played by The Rock and his astonishingly large, triangular head, dons these magic gloves that allow him to use a flame of sorts to cut through a chain link fence. It's such overkill when clearly a pair of wire cutters would have done the job just as easily. I mean, BRO!
Also hanging out are Duke (CHANNING), Lady Jaye, Flint, and some rando little Joe. They rush into this base or something to grab a defector and then they head back to the US but not before the rando Joe raises the GI Joe flag. It makes no sense but you can take comfort in knowing that very little about this movie makes sense.
Back in the States, we hear a lot of mission talk only to see Channing and The Rock playing some kind of masculine war video game in a well-appointed Craftsman home. Channing is terrible at the game and that's supposed to be funny. HA HA HA! Then we see two little girls, The Rock's children. They are adorable. They wrestle with Channing and then disappear. What are their names? Who is their mother? What kind of father is Roadblock? We will never, ever know. What we do know is that now, something is at stake—la familia!
On the news, there's something about Pakistan and an assassinated president. Cut to the Pentagon, where people look tense and whatnot. The president of the US is taking advice from his team about what to do and he decides to be bold! Send the Joes in! 'MERICA!
In some stock footage from every single movie about elite fighting units, the Joes are in the back of plane, preparing to rumble. There's more banter to develop character and it's shoddy screenwriting so I stopped paying attention. Then Roadblock gives a motivational speech to the troops, calling on that most inspirational of all speakers, Jay-Z. Everyone is really motivated after that.
For whatever reason, Snake Eyes is missing but Roadblock assures us that if he's not there, he has a damn good reason because Snake Eyes is solid. It's adorable how this movie tries to have a little plot. This is the first evidence of such.
The Joes descend into Pakistan, infiltrate this one building, and find the warhead. There is lots of shooting, parkour, and incredible athleticism. There is an extreme fetish for weaponry with lingering shots of gun barrels, crisp shooting sound effects, and the clink of bullets raining everywhere. The director gives the distinct impression that he would like to fuck a gun.
Channing's neck remains exceptional.
After, the Joes disarm the warhead and wait in the middle of the desert for extraction. Channing and The Rock continue to male bond in a vaguely homophobic yet homoerotic way. I very much wanted them to have sex on screen but it was not meant to be. It will later tonight in my dreams, though.
Suddenly, we see a tiny electronic drone, and there's an attack on the GI Joe camp. Then the worst thing possible happens. Brace yourselves. Channing dies.
I will give you a moment.
I'll be honest. I was going to walk out. The whole POINT of this movie is Channing. I persevered but for the next 90 minutes I kept foolishly thinking, “Maybe he's not really dead. Maybe he is soap opera dead.” I kept waiting and waiting for Dat Neck to rise again but it was for naught. There was no Easter miracle to be had and the movie is lesser for it.
Roadblock, Lady Jaye, and Flint jump into a well, and then together, with TEAMWORK, they climb out of the well and they are sad but they are going to avenge their brothers! Rather than concern itself with logic or sense, the movie shows them humping across the desert to some kind of installation and Roadblock says, “We're going home.” Now, this is a curiously correlative statement. How, exactly, are they going to get from a desert in Pakistan to “home” just by looking at this random installation? As you ponder the answer to this question, just know that the next time we see these three musketeers, they will be back in the United States wearing a fresh set of clothes, looking well-rested.
Somewhere in what used to be East Germany, there's an underground prison. These armed guys bring in what looks like Snake Eyes but OOPS, no, it is Storm Shadow. The prison guy, one of those character actors who is in lots of movies, is very very proud of the prison and like most psychopaths in movies, loves to hear the sound of his own voice. He talks a lot of shit which lets you know he's going to die very soon.
Storm Shadow is put
in a vat of water next to Destro and Cobra Commander and then he makes his heart stop, just like James Bond does in Die Another Day, and as they try to revive him, he uses his ninja ways, gets free, releases Cobra Commander, and kills the prison warden and everyone else on site. Destro gets to stay in his water cell, though and Cobra Commander is real snotty about it.
Storm Shadow is injured so he's sent to the “mountains” to be fixed with robots and ancient ninja secrets. I'm not even joking about this.
As an aside, new millenium movie rule, action scenes must be scored with dub step.
On U.S. soil, Roadblock, Jaye, and Flint stroll up to the “hood,” which, again, movie rule, is where you have to go when you need help. This brotha starts jaw jacking Roadblock but then they hug it out because they're old friends. You have literally seen this scene in ten different movies. Remember XXX: State of the Union? YUP.
Roadblock's old friend sets them up in an abandoned rec center where Roadblock used to beat people up in the boxing ring before he enlisted with the Joes. This is what they refer to in the trade as backstory. The place is dusty and run down but magically, the musketeers set up a really advanced looking computer system after the camera pans to a box of ancient computer parts.
This contrivance is deeply embarrassing for the movie. Let us speak of it no more. The musketeers send out a signal in case any other Joes are alive and looking for the team. I guess that message reads, “Come to the hood, in America City.”
Meanwhile in Tokyo, on the movie set of Asia City (like Mensah Demary's Africa City only Asian), RZA (LOLWUT) is Blind Master and he's talking some talk about something or other. It's such a bizarre indulgence. It's not very clear. Anyway, Snake Eyes and a new sidekick, Jinx, are there and they are going to go and get Storm Shadow to see if they can figure out what the hell is going on now that the Joes have been decimated.
They go to the “mountain” on a different stretch of Asia City, with the accompanying vaguely Kung Fu-ish score and there's a bunch of awesome stuff involving ninjas on mountains and throwing around Storm Shadow in a body bag and zip lines and it's amazing and ridiculous and the point of movies. I was THRILLED, literally on the edge of my seat, clapping like a freak.
Oh a bit earlier, Storm Shadow basically has a limitless supply of throwing stars and LOL, Snake Eyes shoots them. So great.
In Washington, Zartan is pretending to be the president and amusing himself by torturing the real president. There's a quip about waterboarding. Oooh! Edgy! Somewhere, Bigelow frowns. Also, Cobra Commander is developing a weapons system called Zeus. Just another day in the global domination neighborhood.
The Joes decide they need to get on the inside of the White House because the president doesn't seem like himself. They do what people do in EVERY MOVIE. They put the gorgeous woman out on the street as bait. Dressed in running clothes, her perfect abdomen bared, Lady Jaye manages to get the attention of the White House chief of staff who, in the real world has secret service protection but who in this movie is just chilling on the street after a poker game. The Joes take him into the car and tell him to put Jaye using an alias on a guest list for a thing. She is then used as bait AGAIN, this time in a gorgeous red dress.
She smiles coyly at the president and snags some hair from his shirt and puts it in a magical tube of lipstick and LOL, how do I say this, the magical lipstick tests the DNA which identifies the president as Zartan who is, apparently, in some kind of DNA database. Really? REALLY?
The plan is to attack a summit between the world's 8 atomic powers where the fake president is going crazy firing bombs and such. There's a hilarious little scene where every leader from the other 7 countries whips out their bomb briefcase. Want to know how the prop master decided to identify which case belonged to which country?
Flag stickers. Again, embarrassing.
The Joes realize they need help so they check in on the first Joe, Bruce Willis, OF COURSE. Bruce Willis is in all the movies. He gives them more weapons because his house is basically an armory. There's some mild sexism involving Jaye who he keeps calling Brenda but it's ok because in the end, he respects her fighting skillz. They still need a little more help so they decide to call on Bruce Willis's old crew. At this point, I GUFFAWED.
Well. Where have we seen this before? Oh Hasbro!
That happened AGAIN, only it was a land assault in the GI Joe movie and there was like .33 seconds of camera time for the side of one elder soldier's face after Roadblock gives the gang a motivational speech and tells the old guys he's honored to fight with them. I love when movies borrow from one another. They also borrowed some Transformers sound effects, just FYI.
Battle, battle, battle, threats, satellite weapons systems, bad guys all die go boom boom boom, heroes save the day, get medals and promotions, etc.
To recap: Channing Tatum can retaliate all over me in any way he wants.