FilmDistrict / Sony
It happens time and time again: two movies featuring roughly the same plot are released at almost the exact same time. There were dueling disaster movies in "Volcano" and "Dante's Peak," a pair of movies about Earth-bound asteroids in "Deep Impact" and "Armageddon," and (of course) the showdown of the anthropomorphic ant movies when "Antz" and "Bug's Life" went toe-to-toe.
This year, we will once again be treated to parallel releases, with "Olympus Has Fallen" (which hit theaters in March) and this weekend's "White House Down." Both movies are about the Oval Office being taken over by ruthless international criminals, as a lone hero looks to save the day.
So how different (or similar) are these two movies? Below, we compare and contrast each film and decide which one has the better storyline.
WARNING: Mild spoilers follow.
"Olympus Has Fallen:" Our hero is a hard-bitten Secret Service agent, played by Gerard Butler, who is harboring self-doubt after unsuccessfully saving the President's wife during a spectacularly movie-ish car accident in the opening sequence. Still, when terrorists take over the White House, he turns into a full-on killing machine, gunning down untold goons for God and Country.
"White House Down:" Our hero is a down-on-his-luck Capitol Police Officer, played by Channing Tatum, whose application to become a Secret Service agent gets rejected. However, when terrorists take over the White House, he looks to saves the day -- although his self-doubts continue to nag and he remains a wonderfully human, non-killing-machine-like hero.
Advantage: "White House Down." NOTHING CAN STOP THE TATUM.
"Olympus Has Fallen:" President is an oddly apolitical white guy (Aaron Eckhart) who has a small child. He is attempting some kind of diplomacy with South Korea when a bunch of North Korean terrorists bust in and take over the place.
"White House Down:" President is a noticeably liberal black guy (Jamie Foxx), who has a small child. He is attempting some kind of world peace initiative when a bunch of home grown terrorists bust in and take over the place.
Advantage: "White House Down." Not only is Foxx wonderfully charismatic, but he kicks a bad guy in the face and says: "Get your hands off my Jordans!" Pretty sure Eckhart doesn't even know what "Jordans" are.
THE BAD GUY
"Olympus Has Fallen:" Rick Yune, the handsome American actor from "The Fast and the Furious" (the original!), "Die Another Day," and "Ninja Assassin," plays the North Korean villain, who is hell bent on Korean unification via the obliteration of the United States. He's still pretty handsome but not all that scary.
"White House Down:" Jason Clarke, the handsome Australian actor from "Zero Dark Thirty" and "The Great Gatsby," plays the American villain, who wants to totally destabilize American democracy. He's still pretty handsome, but unlike Yune, he can also muster really scary moments.
Advantage: Clarke, if only because he seems like a man with conviction, unlike Yune, who is just going through the motions. Don't be afraid to twirl your metaphoric mustaches, boys!
THE TERRORIST PLOT
"Olympus Has Fallen:" Involves the release of some kind of advanced weapons system that will detonate all of the nuclear missiles on American soil. Honestly, it was kind of confusing.
"White House Down:" Not completely sure, but at one point a missile shoots out of silo and takes down Air Force One, which was pretty cool. Plus, there's a character who wants to start a war with the Middle East (but that's a secret!) Honestly, it was kind of confusing.
Advantage: "White House Down," because of the thing with Air Force One.
THINGS THAT ARE DESTROYED
"Olympus Has Fallen:" The Washington Monument gets clipped (not sure if it gets destroyed) and a helicopter crashes on the roof of the White House. Nothing happens to Air Force One.
"White House Down:" An explosive device is set up in the main rotunda of the U.S. Capitol and a helicopter crashes on the roof of the White House. Everything happens to Air Force One.
Advantage: "White House Down." Any movie that reminds us of the movie "Air Force One" (in a good way) gets an automatic gold star.
SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE
"Olympus Has Fallen:" Morgan Freeman
"White House Down:" Richard Jenkins
Advantage: "Olympus Has Fallen," if only because Freeman's voice alone has unified warring nations and caused uniforms to spring into existence.
THE MPAA RATING
"Olympus Has Fallen:" R
"White House Down:" PG-13
Advantage: Draw. The violence in "Olympus Has Fallen" has a queasy, nearly pornographic quality, thanks largely to the fact that about a billion civilians are also callously gunned down. If that's your thing, you'll enjoy it.