Movie Review: Olympus Has Fallen (Confirmed: Great)

Hollywood White House Battle 2013 Round 1: Olympus Has Fallen

     The thing that probably raced through the general public's head when they first saw the action packed trailer for Antoine Fuqua's Olympus Has Fallen was probably the same thing that went through mine: "Damn, this looks like one over the top 90's action movie."  Olympus Has Fallen looked like a big budget action film that would rely on the old 90's trope of destroying our nations capital, much like film's such as Independence Day did.  However, the film was made for only around $70 million dollars which sounds like a lot, but Olympus Has Fallen was actually made for half the price of this film's upcoming rival: Roland Emmerich's White House Down starring Jamie Foxx and Channing Tatum.  Due out June 27th, White House Down costs around $150 million dollars to make.  The lower budget that Film District had for Olympus Has Fallen both helped the film and was detrimental to it at the same time.  We will have to wait until White House Down hits on June 27th before we see which film is the true victor in the 2013 Battle of the White House, but in the mean time you can check out our thoughts on round one of that battle after the break.....

Ashley Judd gives Michelle Obama a run for her $ as 1st Lady if you ask me!

     Olympus Has Fallen hooks you into the story of the film's First Family within the first 15 minutes. Not only does the opening scene hook you in but it makes you care about this particular Hollywood version of the First Family.  A lot of credit has to go to script writer Sheldon Turner, because so often films and television shows ask you to care about fictional First Families or Presidents that you have nothing invested in.  After the opening scene plays out in the form of a horrific car accident involving President Asher (Aaron Eckhart) and first lady Margaret Asher (Ashley Judd), the results tie secret service agent Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) to President Asher, and his Son Connor (Finely Jacobsen) for the rest of their lives, leaving Banning to wonder if he made the right decision in an unwinnable scenario.  After this tragedy unfolds, the film flashes forward 18 months to find Banning working at a desk job rather than out in the secret service field and President Asher trying to diplomatically solve another serious dispute between North and South Korea .  As meetings between South Korea and the United States unfold, Washington is attacked by North Korea, the President is taken hostage, and only one man is up for the job: ex special forces Army Ranger and former Secret Service Agent Mike Banning (Butler).

Kind of crazy that Olympus Has Fallen ended up being a better Die Hard film, than A Good Day to Die Hard, even though it isn't a Die Hard film.  This is in big part due to Gerard Butler's performance as Agent Mike Banning
     As the film progresses one things is made evidently clear: Olympus Has Fallen truly wanted to be the hard R-rated White House thriller of the year because not only do we get to see Gerard Butler tear through terrorists one by one on his hell bent mission to rescue the President, but you get to see him obliterate his foe's in very Die-Hard, R rated ways.  This is where Olympus Has Fallen is at it's best as the film's lower budget allows Butler to play off of the story's primary villain Kang Yeonsak (Rick Yune) and his henchmen in a very confined, but still action packed way, very much like the original Die Hard.  When Butler isn't tearing through henchmen he is able to interact and crack wise in clever ways with the authority figures of the film: Speaker of the House Trumbull (Morgan Freeman) and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Clegg (Robert Forester).  These interactions, fueled by Butler's best performance since he played King Leonidas in 300, are ultimately what makes the thrill ride that is Olympus Has Fallen truly work.

Morgan Freeman, a man truly worthy of the 25th Amendment!

     While Olympus Has Fallen was on the cusp of reaching the heights of disaster films like Armageddon and Independence Day, a few thing's kept it from truly reaching it's potential.  The CG in this film was pretty bad throughout the course of the movie, but it reached almost unwatchable heights during the attack on Washington D.C.  At one point, when the Washington Monument was half way destroyed, it looked like a cut scene from a PS2 or Xbox Game. It was so bad, but at the same time you have to realize this film is operating on half the budget of your typical disaster film.  Also, the way that the North Koreans over took the White House by pretty much walking through the front door just seemed a little implausible. (Maybe this comes from seeing the White House over taken in much more realistic ways in shows like 24.)  Overall, bad CG and unrealistic takeover tactics by the North Koreans are minor nitpicks in a very enjoyable and nearly epic action film.

Character driven action always provides the ultimate payoff!

      Overall, Olympus has fallen managed to provide something very few action flicks do these days which was being a very character driven action film.  So many film's have bad ass action scenes just for the sake of having them, but not only does Olympus Has Fallen have those scenes but they meant something because you cared about the main characters.  You didn't care about these characters simply because the President and his family were involved, but because of how well they were set up at the beginning of the film.  It remains to be seen who will be the Armageddon and who will be the Deep Impact among Olympus Has Fallen and White House down, but so far it looks like Roland Emmerich and company have their work cut out for them!


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