Review: Olympus Has Fallen


Gerard Butler tackles terrorists at the White House.

Posted 2nd September 2013, 4:22pm in TV

Olympus Has Fallen has the ingredients to be a decent blockbuster, particularly when you consider the acting prowess of Morgan Freeman. Unfortunately this is a below-par, rushed, feature film that appears to have been reluctantly pushed into cinemas before it was ready.

Mike Banning (Butler) is a Special Service Agent providing protection to the US President and his family. Calamity strikes on a snowy evening and the President and his wife suffer a horrific car accident. The opening scene, to be fair, is adequate, but it fails on the fact the looming catastrophe is too predictable to provoke a reaction in the audience. Yet the scene should win plaudits, because it’s the best application of Gerard Butler throughout the film’s entirety – apart from the longevity of his dodgy American accent.

Fast-forward ten seconds – in a bid to combat political angst on the Korean Peninsula, US diplomats invite Eastern politicians to the White House. These diplomats are quickly unmasked as terrorists who have infiltrated the secret service, successfully managing to claim the White House as theirs. During the chaos of this violent coup, and amid the onslaught of military plane and bazookas – US President (Aaron Ekhart) and his closest advisors are taken hostage.

After failing to prevent tragedy while in charge of the President’s security, Banning is demoted to a desk job and as crazed events unfold onscreen, the agent looks on as America’s capital city undergoes a full on military assault from double agents and deadly assassins. These terrorists are organised and in possession of an arsenal of weaponry, including a military helicopter and plane that circles above the heads of America’s political population. Banner is incapable of sitting still and runs toward the bloodshed, and during one lethal assault, the agent is seen flying through the air like Peter Pan, only to land on his feet and continue shooting.

Director Antoine Fuqua (Training Day) has created a production that contains something of worth, but what it is exactly remains difficult to decipher. In one scene terrorist leader Kang (Rick Yune) beats the U.S. Secretary of Defense (Melissa Leo) to an inch of her life, in order to attain her password for access to nuclear weapons – this, sadly, is Olympus Has Fallen’s finest moment. Yune and Leo perform in a violent scene that succeeds in being difficult to view, while the President, constrained to the floor, looks on helplessly.

Unfortunately, the actors are underplayed and untested. Freeman’s most memorable line is a muttering speech about coffee in the face of apocalypse; Aaron Ekhart is tied up for most of the movie; and other than shooting the baddies, Butler is entirely hollow. Perhaps Fuqua aimed to create a production reminiscent of the great 80's action films – but Olympus Has Fallen contains nothing of worth compared to Die Hard or Lethal Weapon and those desiring more should stay well away.

Olympus Has Fallen is out on Blu-ray and DVD from 26th August 2013 courtesy of Lionsgate Home Entertainment.
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