Reel Critics: Giddy heights on 'Olympus'

In Greek mythology, Olympus was the home of the Gods. It's also the Secret Service code name for the White House in "Olympus Has Fallen." Director Antoine Fuqua brings his "Training Day" credentials to this nonstop action adventure, which could be titled "Die Hard in the District of Columbia."

Gerard Butler reclaims his former gritty screen persona in the starring role. He plays a Bruce Willis-style hero at the center of the hostage drama. North Korean commandos execute a lightning assault to take over the White House in a matter of minutes. The president and his staff are taken prisoner. Butler's character ends up alone inside the building. Unknown to the captors, he is the only hope of rescue.

The whole premise is implausible. But the cat-and-mouse game that comprises most of the movie is riveting and full of tension. R-rated gunplay and serious mayhem are a big part of the bloody plot. It's not realistic. But if you're a fan of big-time spy thrillers with a high body count, this film's for you.

'Admission' flunks

I was so ready to like "Admission," the new comedy starring Tina Fey and Paul Rudd. Both have terrific comic gifts and seem to be an ideal pairing.

Alas, much of the best moments were in the movie trailer. "Admission" is actually less of a rom-com than a look at the process for admission into a top university and the anxieties that go with it. Or is it about career vs. parenthood, nature vs. nurture, free to be you and me? This movie can't quite decide.

Portia Nathan (Fey) is a no-nonsense admissions office at Princeton who takes a certain pleasure in rejecting applicants to the prestigious institution. When Portia's live-in boyfriend (hilarious Michael Sheen) dumps her for a blond scholar, this iron lady starts to buckle.

On a visit to a new progressive high school, she meets teacher John Pressman (Rudd) and his promising student. Apart from being effortlessly charming, John also believes Portia could be this kid's natural birth mother.

Things escalate from the laughable to the desperate, and so unworthy of Fey. Warm and fuzzy is not her strong suit.

It was truly inspired to cast Lily Tomlin as her mother, whose offbeat comic talents gave us some real zing in all her scenes.

JOHN DEPKO is a retired senior investigator for the Orange County public defender's office. He lives in Costa Mesa and works as a licensed private investigator. SUSANNE PEREZ lives in Costa Mesa and is an executive assistant for a company in Irvine.

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