On Friday, FilmDistrict’s action film Olympus Has Fallen opens in theaters. With an impressive cast and promising (if not original) premise, does it deliver the action goods? Find out in our review after the break.
In Olympus Has Fallen, Secret Service agent Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) is taken off the President’s detail after a tragic accident involving the President (Aaron Eckhart), the First Lady (Ashley Judd), and their son (Finley Jacobsen). Now a few years later, Banning gets stuck in the White House when it is taken over by terrorists. The President and a few senior officials are taken hostage, and it’s up to Banning is save them and stop the captors from creating global devastation. He gets help on the outside from the Pentagon, including the Speaker of the House and acting President (Morgan Freeman) and the Secret Service Director (Angela Bassett).
You’re probably going to hear this cliché description of the film all over the place, but it’s pretty accurate: Die Hard in the White House. This is a brutal action movie with a bleeding patriotic heart. It manages to stay apolitical by focusing on the timely external threat of North Korea and the idea of Americans banding together no matter what. We even have a charismatic President that isn’t perfect, but generally a good guy.
The pace starts off a bit slow as director Antoine Fuqua tries to set up the premise, but then it kicks into high gear with the initial assault on the White House. This is one of the most intense and action-packed 15 minutes you’ll see in any movie this year. The solid visual effects accentuate the non-stop barrage on the country’s most protected building. The body count in this scene alone shadows the total for most action films.
Since this is a high concept action film, we do get some of the tropes that you have to overlook to enjoy the fun. We get some cheesy dialogue, and the plot has a few holes despite being pretty straight forward. You have to suspend disbelief a little more than usual, but it’s easy if you allow yourself to not think too much. However, to say this film is “dumb” is not fair. All the action scenes are directed well, and the interior of the White House is dead-on. You can tell there was a lot of thought put into the layout of the building and how to utilize it for the story.
This movie is a wet dream for red-blooded American men. It may go overboard with the patriotism (slow motion American flags and all), and there may be some plot holes, but I think overall it will appeal to anyone who enjoys a solid R-rated action film.