Olympus Has Fallen is 2013 action film directed by Antoine Fuqua and written by Creighton Rothenberger and Katrin Benedikt. It stars Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart and Morgan Freeman and was released on the 17th of April in the UK and nearly a month earlier on the 22nd of March in the USA.
Secret Service Agent Mike Banning (Butler) is stuck in a desk job, a far cry from when he was head of the President’s personal protection detail. Removed from his position for doing his job, and letting the First Lady die in the process he feels impotent doing paperwork all day. That changes when the White House is attacked by terrorists who have infiltrated the South Korean Prime Minister’s security detail. Using highly trained personnel the terrorists take President Benjamin Asher hostage in the bunker underneath the White House. With all other security personnel slain, Banning is forced to wage a one man campaign to rescue the hostages while Speaker of the House Allan Trumbull (Freeman) has to decide whether or not to accede to the terrorists’ demands having been made Acting President of the United States of America.
Let’s be clear, this isn’t an original concept. It is just Die Hard in The West Wing. That’s all it is. But there have been films with a lot less of a concept than this, we got a whole film out of the game of Battleship. The thing is that these are two very divergent concepts, The West Wing is high budget character drama and Die Hard… isn’t.
The film has a lot of failings. It tries too hard where it doesn’t need to and doesn’t try hard enough when it really should. The biggest of these is when the plot tries to get clever, except it’s obvious the writers haven’t even extended their research as far as a Google search and ten minutes of reading. In this case I’m talking about the villain’s evil scheme twist, which is something all films have needed ever since the swerve in Die Hard, but in this case it adds nothing, is completely unnecessary and actually detracts from the film. The other major problem is the score, which is a poor facsimile of all those pseudo-patriotic scores we’ve heard before but without any charm or style at all. The acting is average to be kind, but not so far on the side of not good that it’s distracting, though it does make me wonder what has happened to the career of Radha Mitchell who’s mired in the distant ‘c’ plot.
Putting aside everything that’s wrong with it, and there are plot holes you could reverse a Death Star through without wing mirrors, it’s not actually that bad of a mindless action movie. The actual attack sequence on the White House is fantastic, although I’ll admit that some Americans might not be able to fully appreciate the CGI and drama given it depicts a massive terrorist attack on their soil, something I’m led to understand they’re rather touchy about. Butler is very convincing in the modern Bond/Bourne-esque fight scenes, of which there are plenty.
Go into it with your brain turned off and you’ll do fine. Unfortunately unless you’re dead set on watching a mindless action blockbuster, there’s no need to go to the cinema and spending your beer tokens on it. It’d be better that you wait for it to inevitably end up on TV, one of the on demand services or in a DVD bargain bin for less than a fiver.