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At the very least, "Olympus Has Fallen" is a better "Die Hard" movie than the new "Die Hard" movie still in theaters. This is essentially "Die Hard" in the White House with Gerard Butler instead of Bruce Willis as a former Secret Service agent working alone against terrorists who have overthrown the People's House and taken President Aaron Eckhart and other officials hostage.
Some scenes will look and sound very familiar - except Butler has shoes on.
Speaker of the House Morgan Freeman comes in as acting President, which is good because he DID save us from an asteroid in 1998.
For action fans, director Antoine Fuqua's film is relentlessly brutal and violent, and it's done with skill. On that level, it works.
But it's also a movie that wants us to cheer on our worst impulses: the mistrust of foreigners, willingness to torture, and this fascination we have with seeing innocent people wiped out for fun. The thick gloss of jingoism is supposed to make it all go down smoothly, with well-worn lines like "The United States of America doesn't negotiate with terrorists!"
A couple weeks ago, the real North Korea released this crude video showing our nation's capitol being attacked. We just paid more for ours.
"Spring Breakers" is an exercise in exploitation, too. The draw is this very R-rated movie stars a set of actresses known for Disney work behaving very badly: Vanessa Hudgens, Selena Gomez and Ashley Benson. The fourth is played by director Harmony Korine's wife, Rachel.
It's the story of four young college girls who want a big Spring Break trip to find themselves. To do it, they rob a diner.
On their trip, they wind up arrested and bailed out by a drug dealer - a creep in cornrows played by James Franco in a pretty great performance.
Most recently, Harmony Korine has directed music videos, and "Spring Breakers" feels like one. I like how It tells its story largely through editing and music, but there's not much character work. The girls are mostly interchangeable, and maybe that's the point. It's also worth noting the movie was written by a man, and indeed it sounds how a pervy guy thinks girls act and behave.
There's an effort to set up a parallel between the rampant hedonism of Spring Break, and its dark side, but too often, Korine's film just feels like Girls Gone Wild as an art house film - titillating for the sake of being titillating. And I use that word deliberately.
"Olympus Has Fallen" * *
"Spring Breakers" * * 1/2
Out of five stars