Movie ReviewsRating: 4.5 of 5 yaps

Olympus Has Fallen

Olympus Has Fallen - inside

This seems like good timing for a slick, slightly jingoistic action/thriller with a geopolitical bent. America continues to writhe in its economic doldrums, madmen puff and pose overseas, and sometimes it feels as if members of our political parties regard each other as dire enemies rather than fellow citizens.

“Olympus Has Fallen” is a play on a familiar theme, but one executed with craftsmanship and skill. The plot is essentially a spawn of “Die Hard” — terrorists take over a place, killing hostages and outwitting emergency responders, but unbeknownst to them a lone, determined lawman is trapped inside and sets about mucking of their plans.

The big twist here is that the building under siege is none other than the White House, the chief hostage is President Benjamin Asher (Aaron Eckhart) and the bad guys are North Korean terrorists looking to impose nuclear domination over the Far East.

Now, the movies have depicted the President’s abode being blown up a few times before, but never a plausible and frightening depiction of it being successfully stormed by hostile forces. Rookie screenwriters Creighton Rothenberger and Katrin Benedickt lay out the scenario with surgical precision, even showing how the Koreans cleverly use the Secret Service’s protective protocols against them.

Things end up with Asher and his closest advisors trapped in the underground presidential bunker, where the terrorists can take their time using brutality to extract the secret nuclear codes. The villain is Kang (Rick Yune), a smiling, hyper-intelligent type who’s eminently hiss-able.

The fly in the proverbial ointment is Mike Banning (Gerard Butler), a disgraced Secret Service agent who was kicked off the president’s detail when he failed to save the First Lady. He starts to take out the terrorists in ones and twos, leading to inevitable exchanges of taunts with Kang via radio.

Banning’s also in touch with the acting president, Speaker of the House Trumbull (Morgan Freeman), who dithers between the aggressive urgings of his top general (Robert Forster), who wants to send in a flood of soldiers, and the more cautious advice of the Secret Service chief (Angela Bassett).

Melissa Leon plays the combative secretary of defense, who’s trapped along with her commander-in-chief. Dylan McDermott is a retired Secret Service agent with a surprising new gig, and Finley Jacobsen portrays the president’s feisty son, who has an intimate knowledge of White House hiding places.

Director Antoine Fuqua (“Training Day”) keeps things moving at a brisk pace, sacrificing characterization for tension-building plot. His depiction of an attack on Washington, D.C. manages to be harrowing without being exploitative — though a shot of the Washington Monument crumbling under its own weight needlessly recalls the Twin Towers.

The main protagonist, Banning, is actually the weakest piece of the puzzle. He should be more tormented about his previous failure, but he registers as a generic action-movie badass, spouting quips and killing messily.

(Butler’s accent doesn’t help; the Scot tries to speak American and ends up sounding Australian.)

“Olympus Has Fallen” is hardly groundbreaking cinema. But in reinventing an old tale in a smart and engaging way, it’s a thoroughly entertaining and often riveting way to spend two hours.

4.5 Yaps

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4 Responses to “Olympus Has Fallen”

  1. born2dsign says:

    Not only is this "essentially a spawn of “Die Hard”", I’ll go you one-better. This is a far better Die Hard, than any of the recent Die Hard movies. A more accurate title would have been Die Hardest Inside the White House.

    Lots of bullets. Lots of fakey blood. Lots of ‘splosions. And LOTS of fun!

  2. filmfoodie34 says:

    honestly if it came out at any other time it would probably be a great movie. The cast is great, the storyline sounds good and it’s sure to have a lot of really good action scenes. But, since this is a real possibility right now, I just don’t want to see this movie. Imagine if after this movie came out it happened in real life:-( so this movie is not on my list of movies to watch. What do you all think? too real life or just good fun?

  3. Sundog says:

    Olympus Has Fallen was surprisingly entertaining once you realize is it is a movie made (intentionally or not) in the spirit of the original Die Hard. You find out early who the bad guy is, are pretty sure he’ll make it all the way through, and know who *most* of the bad guys are early on. Aside from a slightly gratuitous death toll that seams meant to remove all sympathy for the bad guys, the movie settles into a series of entertainingly over the top fights and shootouts that elicited quite a few rounds of applause and cheering at the premiere that I attended.

  4. kristieshaw says:

    I never watch tv because I work at night and have five kids. I’m just too busy to find the time. I don’t get to see movie previews so I rely on my friends, customers and this site to review and suggest movies. After a friend suggested this movie last night I came here to see your thoughts on it. After this review and her suggestion, I think hi will be going to see it! Thanks for the reviews!