Gerard Butler stars as Mike Banning – a Secret Service agent who used to be in charge of President Asher’s (Aaron Eckhart) protection, but has been reassigned to a boring desk job at the Treasury Department. During a visit by the South Korean Prime Minister, a group of terrorists begin a well organized, brutal attack on the White House taking President Asher, the Prime Minister and many others hostage.
Mike sees the attack happening (Treasury is next door to the White House for those of you who don’t live in DC), and jumps into action. It’s a worst case scenario as the White House is completely taken over, and Mike is the only person on the inside in contact with Speaker of the House Trumbull (Morgan Freeman), the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the head of the Secret Service, Lynn Jacobs (Angela Bassett).
Can Mike figure out what the terrorists want and save the hostages?
How far can Speaker Trumbull take this before sacrificing those inside?
There is an old Hollywood joke about how every action movie is, essentially, Die Hard.
Die Hard on a Bus (Speed).
Die Hard on a Plane (Air Force One and Passenger 57).
Die Hard on a Boat (Under Siege).
Die Hard on a Train (Under Siege 2, Steven Seagal REALLY likes Die Hard).
Die Hard on Desperation (Die Hard 5 aka A Good Day To Die Hard)
Olympus Has Fallen is Die Hard in the White House, but it’s a really good action movie, so who cares?
Director Antoine Fuqua and the writing team do a good job structuring a movie that keeps the action flowing, with sufficient emotional appeals as well. No one will confuse this with Silver Linings Playbook or Argo, but it’s a very good action movie that makes me believe in Gerard Butler again.
Fuqua knows how to blow stuff up, and I know many people might be disconcerted by the imagery of The Washington Monument or The White House getting all blown up, so don’t buy a ticket if you find yourself of that mindset. I think Fuqua and the writers quite solidly play upon our love for those iconic buildings to heighten our emotional involvement (and I should know. I used to live a few blocks away from both, so Fuqua is blowing up MY NEIGHBORHOOD!). Maybe it hits a bit too close to home, but you get plenty of other action scenes to make you remember it’s a movie.
Along with plenty of good tension, I like how writers Creighton Rothenberger and Katrin Benedikt give characters a chance to be heroes. While most of us know about politicians and so-called leaders being full of corruption and opportunism (especially if you live in DC), Olympus Has Fallen reminds us how we hope elected officials would act in a crisis (and probably would act in a crisis as long as that crisis is not called Sequestration, let’s see if Eckhart can break the sequester!). It is the kind of optimism you might find surprising in this kind of film.
Sure, it’s over the top too often, but Olympus Has Fallen is an action packed summer blockbuster released about 3 months too early.
Olympus Has Fallen is rated R for strong violence and language throughout