“Olympus Has Fallen” is the first of two White House-centric action movies on the 2013 schedule. After a decade where human bad guys were replaced by aliens and massive American landmark destroying effects of global warming, the movie debuted at a time when tensions between North Korea and the USA are at a high.
The movie follows Mike Banning (Gerard Butler), a Secret Service agent relieved of his presidential detail after a fatal accident. Years later, he is now on Treasury detail when the unthinkable happens. The White House, considered the most secure place on Earth, is successfully overtaken in a well thought out and well executed plan. President Asher (Aaron Eckhart) and his companions, including the South Korean Ambassador and his retinue, are sealed inside the presidential bunker, unwittingly sealing with them the North Korean mastermind, Kang (Rick Yune), who is behind the attacks, and diminishes the group’s numbers quickly to only those necessary for his plan. Secretary of State Trumbull(Morgan Freeman) and Secret Service Director Jacobs(Angela Bassett) are in the command room, trying to figure out how to save the president, when Banning makes contact from within the White House.
What now ensues is sequences of fistfights and gunfire as Banning and Kang play a deadly game of cat and mouse with each other, and the officials in the command room watch as Kang’s real plan comes to light from within the bunker.
Fans of the “Die Hard” movie may see many sequences seemingly lifted from that movie and utilized here. Just a few examples may be the premise of an undetected adversary for the villain, utilizing the US militaries predictability against them, the hero falling a great distance through a window and stopping the predictable aerial assault by the US military.
The latter scenario served as a huge plot hole. Kang uses Hydra, a top secret weapon developed by the US military, that somehow the North Koreans have inexplicably managed to get their hands on, transport into the White House and mount on the roof, after which Banning then destroys said multi-million dollar weapon with barely a wince.
This movie is by and large a popcorn, check your brain at the door, flick. When the audience figures out the North Koreans grand plan involving the US nuclear arsenal a full 40 minutes BEFORE the man who played Lucius Fox does, there is a significant feeling of let down and disappointment to be had with said Mr. Fox, or in this case Speaker Trumbull. After the second CERBERUS code, the nuclear “fail-safe” in this movie code, out of three is entered, there should have been some serious figuring out happening.
Marketed as the first big action flick of the year, “Olympus” does deliver. Big explosion, destruction on a massive scale, and buckets of blood will please fans of this kind of movie, and turn the stomachs of the unfortunately less enthused. As the body count rises, audience members are held tight as the unthinkable and brilliantly executed terrorist plot unfolds and the suspense builds.
The biggest plus of this film was Gerard Butler. After “300” the actor starred in a number of flops, namely romantic comedies, and it looks to be that the Scottish actor, also a producer on the movie, has used “Olympus” to reestablish himself as the rising action star he seemed poised to be years ago. He commands the screen as he wipes out the enemy, points out to the officials how stupid they’re being, and ultimately manages to do what hundreds of the US military were unable to do by posing a real threat to Kang.
‘Olympus Has Fallen” is rated R for strong violence and language throughout. The blood flows freely here, and while sometimes masked in darkness, there is no mercy in Banning or Kang’s numerous executions.