Olympus Has Fallen

By Jared Young

Mailed on March 22, 2013

Stamp image Priority

Dear Trevor Morris

Dear Trevor,

In junior high, while my peers were awakened by the atonal notes of the early-90s alt-rock movement and the emigration of hip-hop from the inner city to the suburbs, I spent my time at the local record store flipping through the soundtracks bin. James Horner and James Newton Howard were my Pearl Jam and Nirvana. Hans Zimmer's gang of synth-inspired virtuosos were my Wu-Tang Clan. I made mix-tapes that cleverly segued between the militaristic pan flutes from the opening scene of Clear and Present Danger to the theme from Con Air to Basil Poledouris's weirdly brilliant score for the decidedly unbrilliant Under Siege 2: Dark Territory. Clearly, Trevor, you're likewise an aficionado of action movie musicology.

You must be, because the score you composed for Olympus Has Fallen relies so heavily on the tropes and devices of these old standards - from the somber horns over the opening credits to the choral hymn that plays over the final frames - that the experience is akin to time-travel.

But when I say rely, perhaps I mean pay tribute to. And what I call tropes are perhaps themes. The difference in these taxonomical details is the difference between a brilliant throwback parody of pre-millennium action flicks and a misanthropic wannabe-blockbuster drowning in its own manufactured gravitas.

So, let me ask you: just which one of these movies is Olympus Has Fallen?

I'm guessing the first. Because there's no way director Antoine Fuqua didn't know what he was doing. This is satire on the level of Dr. Strangelove. This is parody executed with a verve worthy of the Zucker Brothers. All without a single note of irony that might give away the joke. Let's set aside the eerily familiar structure of the plot (this movie is a companion piece to Die Hard in the same way that Dark Side of the Moon is a companion piece to The Wizard of Oz: built over its skeleton). Gerard Butler is certainly in on it, stalking around all John Wayne-like and growling in a breathless Batman-voice. Morgan Freeman, too, seems to be doing an impression of Morgan Freeman playing Morgan Freeman. And your music, Trevor, makes sure that this self-consciousness is never too subtle. Aaron Eckhardt, the President held-hostage, trapped by terrorists in the White House basement, can't walk down a hallway or open a door or even blink without the horn section swelling to crescendo.

How ingenious for Fuqua to construct a sequence as outrageously inhumane as the first act attack perpetrated against the people of Washington, DC (they're gunned down by invading North Koreans in a circling jumbo jet that is inexplicably able to cruise into the capitol's airspace), all the while keeping the action safely on the side of implausibility so that everything potentially offensive about it is merely funny. What's brilliant about it is that people will watch this movie and totally think you guys were trying to make a real movie!

But here is the best compliment I can pay you, Trevor: if I had seen this flick at the age of fourteen, I'd right now be scanning the CD racks looking for your name.



comments powered by Disqus
(% endraw %}