Runtime: 2 HR
Director: Antoine Fuqua
Writers: Creighton Rothenberger, Katrin Benedikt
Starring: Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Morgan Freeman, Dylan McDermott, Rick Yune, Angela Bassett, Melissa Leo, Radha Mitchell, Cole Hauser, Robert Forester, Ashley Judd
It’s hard to believe it’s been just over seven years since Gerard Butler massacred his way through countless Persians and into the hearts of audiences around the world as King Leonidas in 300. Since his breakout performance Butler’s career has stumbled a bit as he’s starred in several mildly successful action films and many forgettable drams and romantic comedies. Will his latest outing be the film to put him back on the map or will it confirm his place as a one hit wonder?
Secret Service Agent Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) has been regulated to desk work at the Treasury Department after not being able to save the life of the President’s wife in a terrible accident. During a routine visit from the South Korean Prime Minister the White House is attacked by terrorists and the President and much of his cabinet is taken hostage. Now the only person that can save the President and the American way of life is one man… John McClane… Casey Ryback… James Marshall… oh yeah it’s Mike Banning.
Where to begin with a film like Olympus Has Fallen? It’s should be plainly obvious to most astute movie fans that this is not a wholly original idea. If you’ve seen Die Hard, Under Siege, Air Force One, or any film that can be described as “Die Hard on/in a _______” then you know what you’re in for with Olympus Has Fallen which is essentially Die Hard in the White House. Truth be told it’s one of the bigger rip-offs I’ve seen in a long time but believe it or not it’s handled with enough finesse that the unoriginality or ludicrousness of the plot shouldn’t bother you in the least.
Like Gerard Butler’s career director Antoine Fuqua has also had his fare share of ups and downs since his first big taste of success with 2001’s Training Day. Olympus has Fallen isn’t going to make the same kind of impact that Training Day did, it’s just not that kind of movie. It is however just as good as and possibly better than his second best film, Shooter. He really went for broke here, leaving no stone unturned when it came to making an all out action film. There’s no superfluous storytelling going on; its balls to wall action for nearly two hours straight- plain and simple.
If you’re going to be bold and pass on making a film that is in anyway thought provoking then you need to deliver entertainment to the audience another way. Olympus Has Fallen does that by releasing the proverbial action hounds; aside from some quick character introductions, the most basic of plot setups, and the occasional minute or two spent on exposition the film is almost entirely action based. The initial attack on the White House has some questionable special effects sporadically mixed in but otherwise is an impressive sequence that action fans are going to lap up. The more basic Under Siege in the White House moments don’t exactly break a lot of new ground but the shear amount of action is sure to please as well.
The only area that Olympus Has Fallen stumbles in the arena of fun action films is the film is a little light on one liners. For instance, when Gerard Butler kills a man with a bust of Abraham Lincoln I consider it a missed opportunity when he doesn’t say something along the lines of, “You’ve been emancipated… of your life.”
Olympus Has Fallen is a dumb action film but I’m going to defend it nevertheless. Despite its many creative shortcomings its heart is in the right place by keeping its aspirations in check and doing the one thing that many films forgot to do- be entertaining. As another great action star once said in a much more serious film, “Are you not entertained? Is this not why you are here?” Yes… I was entertained and this is exactly why I’m here.