Olympus Has Fallen delivers action, zingers, and explosions. The bad guys are very, very bad and the good guy is very, very determined. Plus, there’s a fight scene at the end that has a beautiful moment.
Here’s a trailer:
Released March 22, 2013
Written by Creighton Rothenberger and Katrin Benedict
Directed by Antoine Fuqua
Starring Angela Bassett, Radha Mitchell, Ashley Judd, Gerard Butler, Morgan Freeman, Aaron Eckhart, Cole Hauser, Melissa Leo, Dylan McDermott, and Rick Yune
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Mike Banning (Butler) is on the President’s (Eckhart) Secret Service detail when the President’s wife dies in a car accident. Eighteen months later, Banning is still in the Secret Service but is assigned to the Treasury, because the President can’t stand to remember that terrible night. But now the White House has been brilliantly attacked and occupied by a North Korean named Kang (Yune) and Banning may be the only thing Kang didn’t plan for.
While the President is captive, along with the Secretary of Defense (Leo) and his Vice President and some staff, the Speaker of the House (Freeman) assumes the mantle of President and must deal with the situation. Kang makes serious demands that will totally throw off the balance of power in North and South Korea, and the Speaker needs to decide if he can rely on Banning to pull the country’s rear-end out of the fire.
Banning is able to get into the White House and use his knowledge of the place to play spoiler to the baddies, and thus many explosions and fights ensue, all leading to a suitably satisfying conclusion. We see the conclusion coming, but it’s still smartly done.
Olympus Has Fallen has a lot going for it. First off, the cast is very good, with Butler delivering if not a great deal of depth, charming accessibility and ruthless determination. He’s smart and knows how to deal death. Melissa Leo gets to really milk the limited time she has on screen as the Secretary of Defense and she does a great job. Freeman has very little asked of him, but adds some gravitas. Eckhart does a workaday job, but his character suffers from not having much to do.
Secondly, the effects are quite good, with the explosions and invasion scenes convincingly brutal and thunderous.
Thirdly, the bad guys are really nasty. They’re also very smart, although there are a few things that will likely bother viewers. More on that later. The bad guys planned the attack well and the occupation of the White House is convincing.
Fourth, the dialogue is, while sometimes a little too cliche, solid and delivers the satisfying zingers we want our modern John McClanes to utter.
Finally, this flick is essentially Die Hard in the White House with its well-prepared and smart bad guys who we want to see meet a messy end and an unstoppable good guy who carries absolute righteousness as a shield.
This is a fun, exciting, emotionally satisfying flick.
The problems arise when you get to thinking about what the bad guys’ plan is. They need to get some codes so that they can do a terrible thing to the USA. Their plan was to extract these codes through torture from the President’s top staff. These people are willing to give their lives to not give up the codes, and really should be allowed to do so, but the too-thin plot needs them to give up the codes. So the plot finds a way and this way does not do the President character any– I mean ANY– favors.
I wanted the writers to take the hard way out and let those staff members have their heroic deaths.
Additionally, there is a scene wherein we need to see some wastes of life due to a general being too hard-headed and not trusting our hero. This scene is awesome and thunderous, but that general would not be such a hard-head if he’s on the joint chiefs– or at least he would be smarter.
Add to these two issues some military idiocy, such as a system that is in place that enables the baddies to even HAVE their plan, as well as crummy flying by a couple of pilots and a Speaker of the House that really, all things considered, had all of one thing that he should have done: blown the bunker to bits.
These are significant issues that make a difference in the movie experience, although the pace is such that most folks probably won’t let themselves stop and think this through until after the flick. Thus, Olympus Has Fallen is still a lot of fun. It’s pretty bloody and all kinds of loud as well.
Content warnings: Lots of blood and violence and swearing.
Writing: 2 Acting: 4.5 Overall: 3.5
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