OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN (MA)
Millennium Films, 119 minutes
WELL-ARMED: Gerard Butler and Aaron Eckhart in Olympus Has Fallen.
DON’T tell anyone, but all you need to overrun the White House and take the president of the United States hostage is a converted C-130 transport plane, 40 commandos, garbage trucks and an inside man or two. If that sounds a little easy, then Olympus Has Fallen would also have you believe that a single belligerent Secret Service agent can save the day.
That dedicated, somewhat impervious, man of action is Gerard Butler’s Mike Banning, a flinty fellow who generally proves he is fluent in McClane, the language introduced by five Die Hard movies.
Banning is first seen as the head of the presidential security detail, which apparently makes him a well-armed friend of president Benjamin Asher (Aaron Eckhart) and his wife, Margaret (Ashley Judd), as well as an avuncular presence to first son Connor (Finley Jacobsen).
That is, until a car accident at a wintry Camp David forces Banning to choose between saving the man he is sworn to protect or his wife. Banning does his job, and is banished by the grieving president. He winds up in the Treasury building, at 1500 Pennsylvania Avenue, another in a long line of gruff, emotionally withered Secret Service veterans.
Banning is the sole law-enforcement officer in all Washington, DC, to get inside the White House after a ground assault by fanatical North Korean agents begins, and director Antoine Fuqua stages the sequence with tumultuous bravado.
– Craig Mathieson
CHEERFUL WEATHER FOR THE WEDDING (MA)
Goldcrest Pictures, 93 minutes
BASED on an obscure novella by the Bloomsbury Group acolyte Julia Strachey, Cheerful Weather for the Wedding is a very minor entry in the British heritage stakes, poorly directed by newcomer Donald Rice (son of the lyricist Tim Rice).
The story takes place over a day in 1932 at a country house in Devon where the spirited Dolly Thatchum (Felicity Jones) is preparing to marry the stuffed shirt Owen Bigham (James Norton).
Some comic turns are faintly amusing, but against such a backdrop it’s not surprising the central romance never comes to life.
Technically the film is a mess, filled with clumsily handled flashbacks, fussy close-ups and floating post-dubbed lines of dialogue.
– Jake Wilson
TIME OF OUR LIVES (M)
ABC (Roadshow), 730 minutes
I APPLAUD the production of Australian drama, be it for the big screen or the small screen. There’s never enough of it and quality comes from experience: the more we make, the better we get.
This program is loaded with a talented cast, from the elegant Claudia Karvan to the hard-working Justine Clarke, from the enigmatic William McInnes to the everyman Shane Jacobson, to chameleon Stephen Curry and gentle beauty Michelle Vegara Moore.
Set in Melbourne, the scene covers family in motion during the prime nesting period of their lives. It is complicated: Clarke and Jacobson have a blended family, with two kids of their own and part-responsibility for Jacobson’s daughter; Karvan and McInnes have one toddler son, but soon break up; Curry and Moore have an attraction, but never make the connection.
Although there are good times, you quickly get conditioned to brace for conflict. The split of Karvan and McInnes is particularly rattling, with Karvan mad as hell that her husband has cheated on her. McInnes feels no pain from the separation for weeks before the penny drops that there are going to be long-term ramifications to his decision.
I’m hopeful if the show gets a second season and a chance to grow that the characters will be allowed to grow, too. Because frankly, this show is a downer.
Like I said, the cast is talented. But they’ve been handed basket-case personalities. There’s got to be some light at the end of the tunnel.
– Jim Kellar