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When the White House (Secret Service Code: "Olympus") is captured by a terrorist mastermind and the President is kidnapped, disgraced former Presidential Secret Service Agent Mike Banning finds himself trapped within the building. As our national security team scrambles to respond, they are forced to rely on Banning's inside knowledge to help retake the White House, save the President and avert an even bigger disaster. Written by
First, you know this film was pitched as "Die Hard in the White House." Yet, given that limitation, the film manages to avoid a number of pitfalls that have crept into the many lesser imitations of the first (and still best of them) "Die Hard." It's the characters in the film that keep it from being too much of a cartoon. The lead character, played by Butler, has had a fall a grace. In a more clichéd film, he'd be a broken, embittered alcoholic (e.g., Kevin Bacon in "The Following") who happens upon a chance for redemption and salvation. Instead, Butler's Secret Service agent is getting on with his life in a desk job, disappointed, anxious to be of more use, but not a shambling wreck of a human. He is a career professional, and when the events of the story take place, he reacts like a professional. The wisecracks are few (he doesn't "kill n' quip") and understated, which makes them more effective. Other characters have small touches (especially Melissa Leo) that make them distinctive and worth rooting for. A very welcome touch is the way the film-makers foil our expectations...they've seen many of the same movies, and rather than follow the cookie-cutter approach of bad scripts, they twist those situations to make them new and interesting.
The action is well done and exciting. It's not a perfect film, but more than competent, continually engaging, and, in the highest praise I can offer, worth full price.
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