A few nights ago, I finally caught up with watching the most recent Tweedledee and Tweedledum of action movies – "White House Down" and "Olympus Has Fallen."
“White House Down,” with
During production, it was common knowledge that two cinematic versions of an attack on the White House were in the works and, since their release, many people have noted the remarkable similarities between them. If a viewer did not know they were made at the same time, it would be easy to think one was a remake of the other.
Tatum plays a cop who is rejected as a candidate for
If these were books or news articles, one might suspect plagiarism at work. However, the reality of Hollywood action movies is different. There are certain formulas that everyone uses. In the case of “White House Down” and “Olympus Has Fallen,” it is the venerated “Die Hard” formula that has worked so well for the
In their third acts -- that final 45 minutes when everything starts blowing up and the hero and chief villain come face to face for a final confrontation -- just about all action movies are the same. These predictable climaxes are seldom very interesting. One of 2013's better action movies, "Man of Steel," was a very original reinvention of the Superman story, but the climactic battle was just the usual overload of noise and mayhem.
"Man of Steel'" ended with an epic fist fight -- the most unshakeable convention in action movies. By some strange logic, the top good guy and top bad guy, no matter the potency of their weapons or level of their powers, must always end it all in a brawl, as if they were two cowboys in a saloon.
It would be nice, for once, to be surprised. Remember the moment in “Raiders of the Lost Ark” when
That's what we should wish for in future action movies: fewer explosions and a lot more surprises.