Olympus Has Fallen (2013)


Look out, Barack. Shit’s about to get real for you this year.

A bunch of North Koreans, intent on having the U.S. pull out of their territory so they can continue their civil war on the South, take over The White House and hold President Asher (Aaron Eckhart) hostage until he gives in to their demands. However, they don’t realize that ex-Secret Service Agent Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) is in the building, and not taking it easy on any of them when it comes to saving his friend, his president, and his country.

Yes, it seems abundantly-clear to me now that Hollywood has finally started to run out of smart, original movie ideas, so now, they just copy one another in hopes of seeming different. See, this is the first movie where terrorists attack the White House we’ll be getting this year, but it sure as hell won’t be the last when White House Down, marches into theaters some time around the Summer. However, regardless of where Hollywood stands in the originality-department, and whether or not they can make smart movies about the leader of our country, is totally meaningless. What does have meaning, is whether or not this movie is as fun as it promises, and that’s all that matters. Oh, and yes: it is as fun as it promises to be.

Judging by reading that premise up-above, you can already tell that is mostly just a Die Hard carbon-copy, but placed inside of The White House. Most of you will probably say it’s stupid, unoriginal, and not worth the watch, but after the recent Die Hard debacle we were just hit with recently (I refuse to call it by it’s title), I think it’s safe to say that anything resembling the original is a-okay with me or any of us for that matter. The idea of a bunch of terrorists taking over one of the most-secured landmarks in our country, does seem a bit ridiculous, especially when you see how these terrorists pull it off, but this movie isn’t made to be thought-about or construed as a believable flick that could give potential-ideas, to potential-terrorists out there. It’s stupid, for the sake of being enjoyed and that’s what mattered to me.

"It's a hard job, son. Don't fuck it up."
“It’s a hard job, son. Don’t fuck it up.”

However, the first 20 minutes did make me think otherwise. Not only does the movie start-off poorly, but it made me feel like I really got myself into some bad-business, when they decided to kill off Ashley Judd, within the first 5 minutes. I don’t love, nor do I hate Ashley Judd as an actress, but this unextended cameo just felt like a needless pry to slap another big name on the poster, and get somebody famous in there for a short-span of 5 minutes, to only provide a reason for the story to exist and die. Seemed stupid to me, but hey, I guess every stupid movie needs a reason to exist, right?

Well, it only got worse after that, because then Antoine Fuqua decided to show us how much he loves showing things blowing-up, but the problem is: it looks absolutely terrible. I’m not kidding; IT’S BAD. The special-effects (if that’s what you want to call them), seem like they came right out of a computer game, but not a recent, jacked-up one that almost seems like real-life, pasted into a tiny cartridge of fun and excitement. No, it seems like the type of graphics that were used for the first World of Warcraft, where only 20-30 year olds who lived in their mom’s basements and ate Doritos off of their chests, spent hours and hours of their lives playing and gaining no confidence whatsoever when it came to talking to women. The sequence where Fuqua gets over-zealous and shows us the terrorists attacking and destroying The White House and all of nearby Washington, is so cheap-looking and made me feel like Fuqua didn’t have much of a budget to begin with, and it was only going to get worse from here. Thankfully, I was wrong, but not by much.

After these initial-problems, the movie gets better, as it decides to not go for the big, bad, and the ugly, but stay grounded and have all of the shizz go down inside the actual White House. Once again, probably took place inside The White House so much for the sake of the budget, but it wasn’t so terrible to sit-through, considering Fuqua seemed to have a lot of fun with this aspect. The action, as goofy as it may be sometimes, is fun, exciting, and gets you really involved, right away. It’s the classic, action movie where guns, fist-fights, machines, and explosives all come together, to create this beautiful blend of dude’s yelling, girls closing their eyes, and everybody in the theater clapping and screaming, “Hell yeah!!”. In fact, I would be lying if I didn’t say I wasn’t at least one of them. It actually got to the point of where I found myself involved with one of the fights and felt the pain that was happening in front of me. Sounds a bit dramatic coming from me, but that just goes to show you what I can feel when an action movie does it’s action right, and doesn’t cheap-out on giving me the goods. That’s all I needed, and that’s what I got. Thank you Antoine Fuqua, for at least 75% of your movie. The other 25% can kiss my ass.

Somebody photo-shopped the banana peels out.
Somebody photo-shopped the banana peels out.

However, I cannot go on and on about this movie, without mentioning it’s best-factor of all: the leading man. Yes, after years and years of rotting his career away in rom-com-after-rom-com, finally, Gerard Butler has returned to being an action hero that we not only love and can get behind, but can kick as much ass as we expect and want him to. Butler is awesome in this role as Mike Banning, and even though the character is your quintessential good guy that does everything right, has a solution to every problem, and always has a witty-quip or two to say, Butler still owns it and makes this character watchable in the best-sense of the word. Not only does Butler seem like he’s capable of doing roles like thee, but he also seems like he’s having a great-deal of fun being able to knife the fuck out of terrorists, and telling them all to kiss his rear-end, and not just to the enemy, but to the people on his own side. Yep, Butler is THAT good as Banning, and even if he isn’t and I’m just over-hyping this thing up like crazy (which I might just be); it’s still great to see Butler back in his prime-form. Let’s just hope it stays that way and we never, ever get another Playing for Keeps. Please, Gerard. I’m begging you! Stay away!

The problem with Butler being so awesome, is that the rest of the cast sort of pales in-comparison to him, but that’s not such a bad thing when you have an ensemble such as this. Aaron Eckhart is a bit weak as President Asher, who instead of standing up for himself and showing that he’s more than capable of taking matters into his own hand, is just meant to sit there, yell a lot, and say how much he does not negotiate with terrorists, even though that’s exactly what he does. Barack would be SMHing right now. However, that’s where Morgan Freeman comes into play the speaking-president (for the 2nd time, mind you), and does an alright-job, even if it seems like a bit of a waste for the guy to just sit around a room, with equal heavy-hitters like Robert Forster and Angela Bassett, and react to everything Banning says, does, or follows through on. Hey, I would rather have them in this movie, then not at all, but at least give them more to do than just reaction-shots that they could pull off just by looking into the mirror.

On the opposite end of things, Rick Yune isn’t just taking a little nibble with the scenery, but is constantly gnawing and teething at it with all of his might and will-power. Yes, it does get a bit over-board at times, but it was actually fun and nice to see a villain that seems smarter than everybody else around him, and one that’s more-than capable of getting away with a blood on his hands. Dylan McDermott plays the American who’s on his side, and does what he can, but once again, seems like a bit of a waste for a guy who’s so, so, so much better at playing dick-heads in movies that it’s not even funny. I mean, it’s funny to watch him in this, but it’s not funny when he can play it well. Everybody else is here for window dressing, and that’s about it. They are all fine, but nothing too special to write home about.

Consensus: Even if it isn’t the best, or the last “White House in danger” movies that we’ll be getting this year, Olympus Has Fallen still excels in being a fun, wild, exciting, and brainless exercise that gets us involved, gets us enjoying ourselves, and gives us back the Gerard Butler that we all knew and used to love. Please stay with us, Gerard. And never, ever leave our sides.

6.5 / 10 = Rental!!

Actual footage.
Actual footage.
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33 comments

  1. This movie is totally stupid as hell, but as you said, it’s just fun enough to still be worth it. Definitely a better Die Hard than what we got earlier this year, at least. Good review, Dan.

  2. I was waiting for your review on this one 🙂 Definitely going to check it out for myself, but glad I got your point of view ahead of time so I know what I’m getting into ahead of time. Great, thorough review as always. Thanks for posting!

  3. Amen to Butler never doing another stupid rom-com again, brother.

    It’s weird to hear about a top-flight film coming out that has “average” special effects though. Still looking forward to this for sheer cheese value, though.

  4. I’ve been looking forward to this film for a while now, it just looks like an interesting watch. So far I have heard good things about it, too bad us over here in the UK don’t get it until mid-April.

  5. WOW, lots of praise for Mr. Butler here, but yeah I agree, let’s hope no more dumb rom-coms please! I did like P.S. I love you but the rest from his resume are dismal! I do still want to see him in dramatic roles though, but he certainly is believable in action flicks. I agree too that the movie picks up once inside the actual White House, the start is a bit too sluggish I think.

  6. Saw this on Saturday. Was much better than I thought, still absolutely average, so that tells you how much I expected NOTHING. I too was happy to see Gerard “nut-up” in a flick again. The action was on point, so much so I didn’t notice the cheesiness of the graphics because I was surprisingly wrapped up in the scenes, weird.

    Some issues, Cole Hauser was wasted I was like “that was it?”, I felt the superimposed text intros of some characters was lazy, never saw what happened to the new black Secret Service agent or the Vice Pres (I wasn’t sure who he was actually) and as you said the President was overly passive. My biggest issue was that Banning was unbeatable, even Batman got kidnapped, Superman has kryptonite. Banning just mowed down guy’s effortlessly and without having to deviate from any of his plans. It was just so easy for him, I never once felt like “Oh he might not make it”, I literally leaned over and said “he won’t die, it’s a movie” to my girlfriend, that’s not good. Nothing is ever in doubt.

    SOME SPOILERS (for the uninitiated):
    Also, some missed opportunities I was hoping they’d explore, as I said Hausen was wasted should’ve had a bit more of a role, McDermott was also wasted he really didn’t do anything until his fight scene. Banning’s wife really confused me because the terrorist knew about her but just let her be felt like there some way they could’ve got to her considering Fuqua had a “big ass plane” sighting seeing DC that really would’ve got shot down with much less warning and patience.

    • It’s got it’s flaws, but it definitely has some of it’s pro’s as well. Not a perfect movie, but still a bunch of fun if you just want to go crazy for a little bit at the theaters. Thanks man!

  7. Great review Dan. I see this film as a mashup of “Die Hard” and “Under Seige.” I’ve been calling it “Die Hard while Under Seige at the White House.” I think this is a better “Die Hard” than the most recent one which shall not be named. Both films feature a lone hero saving the day with plenty of wise-cracking, although I think Gerard Butler’s character is a lot more likable than Steven Seagal or even Bruce Willis. He’s actually a guy who cares about other people, not a selfish prick. He’s funny but unfortunately not overly so, and the back and the forth with the situation room is definitely just like “Under Seige.”

    I felt the opening did a good job with character development, something a lot of action films don’t bother with so I was fine with Ashley Judd’s potion. I agree that the effects look like garbage at times, especially the zoom out of the crashed plane by the Washington Monument. Your WoW/Dorritos analogy is hilarious. In moments it feels absolutely ridiculous that terrorists could take over the White House, especially considering some of their methods would not even remotely work in real life, but I enjoyed this action flick when it was trying to be more grounded, especially because of Gerard Butler’s excellent performance.

  8. I agree with you about the beginning of the movie, it seemed a little slow, but it was an obivous set up to get Banning removed from the White House so he would not be killed in that opening attack. They did play the President to be a tough guy when they showed him boxing with Banning, but they didn’t do anything with it.

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