The film industry obviously has it in for the White House in 2013 as ‘Olympus Has Fallen’ is the first of two movies being released this Summer that sees the President’s home being attacked by a foreign threat.
Roland Emmerich’s ‘White House Down’ will follow this in a couple of months time but it’s going be difficult for even that master of disaster to outdo ‘Olympus’ in the body count and carnage stakes.

The film starts off at a wintery Camp David where President Asher (Aaron Eckhart) is enjoying a little family time with the First Lady (Ashley Judd) and his son. We’re also introduced to Secret Service guard Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) and it’s not long before he’s called in to action as he makes a decision that saves the President but kills the First Lady after a bad car accident in the icy conditions.
Fast forward 18 months and a crestfallen Banning has been relegated to a desk job with the President blaming him for the tragedy.
With a war brewing on the Korean border (sound familiar?), the South Korean ambassador travels to Washington for crunch talks but all hell breaks loose as Rick Yune’s North Korean terrorist Kang pulls off an attack that pummels the White House, leaving an impressive amount of bullet riddled bodies strewn all over the front lawn. The President is kidnapped and it’s left to Banning to find him and his son before Kang can retrieve the nuclear codes that will potentially bring the US to its knees.

Gerard-Butler-Olympus-Has-Fallen

Wait a minute!  Doesn’t that plot sound a bit like..?

‘Olympus’ has already been dubbed ‘Die Hard’ in the White House and that reference is pretty accurate with Butler doing his best John McClane impression but the script lacks the wit and sparkle which made Bruce Willis’ character so endearing over twenty years ago.
Instead, Butler relies more on brute force as knives are stabbed in people’s throats with merely an eyelid batted and the whole affair relies on relentless darkly lit violence to create a few brief moments of suspense.
‘Olympus’ wears its star spangled heart fully on its sleeve with a script full of cheesy pro-America lines and cliches that come thick and fast. There’s no denying that director Antoine Fuqua (‘Training Day’) only had the action fan in mind as the countless explosions and destruction take preference over subtlety. It’s preposterous but fun even if the two hour run time feels a little bloated.
As for the acting, Eckhart is spirited but limited with a role that sees him tied to some railings for the majority of the time, a feisty Melissa Leo majorly hams it up as the Secretary of Defense and in a film where most of the back stabbing is done by Butler, Dylan McDermott does some devious work of his own. Morgan Freeman appears but doesn’t really do much as the acting President. After this and ‘Oblivion’, that’s two films in 2013 where Freeman has been reduced to more of a bit role and it’s a shame to see such a great actor being criminally under used.
The ruthless Butler is the star of the show, proving he’s much more comfortable as the action hero than a rom-com leading man. He’s a killing machine with a softer side but I wonder if the irony of a Scotsman saving the US from nuclear disaster is lost on the studio…

‘Olympus Has Fallen’ is a gloriously tacky and over the top action thriller that the popcorn crowd should lap up. The fact that stylistically it’s a lot closer to the original ‘Die Hard’ than the recent instalment of that franchise should be recommendation enough.  Over to you, ‘White House Down’.

7/10

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Comments
  1. CMrok93 says:

    Nice review. When the movie ends, chances are you probably won’t be left with a feeling that you just watched some amazingly unique, but there are bits of fun you will like.

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