Gerard Butler and Aaron Eckhart in "Olympus Has Fallen." (FilmDistrict )
If you head out to see the Gerard Butler action movie “Olympus Has Fallen” this weekend, you’re probably going for the pyrotechnics: The White House is blown to smithereens, the Washington Monument dramatically implodes, many bad guys die violently.
But Butler, who stars as the fallen Secret Service agent and one-man wrecking crew Mike Banning in the D.C.-under-fire-from-North-Korean-terrorists tale, sees in it something a little more … nuanced.
“This movie is a hero's journey about a guy who faces his demons and finds his redemption,” Butler told The Times when asked what he thought the movie was really about. Butler's character is wracked by guilt over a mistake that led to the death of the first lady.
PHOTOS: Scenes from 'Olympus Has Fallen'
The actor elaborated:
“It’s about the darkest hour, and do we rise to the occasion. There’s a lot of inspiration in that. You get inside a character and follow him through all his pain. And suddenly he’s given the opportunity to do something he’s trained his whole life to do … it’s a movie about second chances and about heroism and about dislocation.”
Anyway, though director Antoine Fuqua had former counter-terrorism and security officials on set nearly every day -- per Fuqua's request, one told The Times -- the movie doesn't offer up any national security secrets. Still, Butler said he’s sensitive to the idea that he and the rest of the cast are laying out a potential attack in some detail.
“We thought, 'Are we being irresponsible?’ Or 'Is this a blueprint?’ And it’s definitely not," he said. "They [terrorists] have so much more up their sleeve than we could ever imagine.”
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Yet Butler acknowledges there are some real echoes to a movie with North Korean villains. After all, back in the real world, tensions have been rising along the 38th Parallel, and there's general uncertainty with the rise of Kim Jong-un.
“You always make a movie related to the backdrop of your cultural situation — what’s affecting your world and your consciousness. We made a point of not involving the North Korean government … it’s a rogue organizaiton, and they're affected by it all too. They're not the villains."
Still, we wouldn't count on an invitation to Dennis Rodman's next goodwill tour.
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