Olympus Has Fallen: After a driving accident which leaves the First Lady (Ashley Judd) brown bread, Presidential guard Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) is kicked out of his high-profile position and into a dull desk job not too far away. Don’t feel too sorry for him, though, as his wife Leah is played by the uber-hot Radha Mitchell.
18 months later, a well-organised large team of Korean rebels turn up at the Whitehouse to attack it, just as the South Korean Prime Minister is indoors, asking the President with help with something that doesn’t really matter because he’s soon taken into the underground bunker where you’d think you’d be safe, but then if he was, there wouldn’t be much of a film.
The attack prompts one of the security staff to inform everyone that “Olympus Has Fallen”, the code for what just happened.
After the President (Aaron Eckhart) & Vice President are in the bunker and unable to take charge of anything, it’s up to the Speaker of the House to become the Acting President, i.e. Morgan Freeman… who was also the President in 1994’s Deep Impact.
What you have is rather a ‘Die Hard in The White House’ and while it’s not as well-written and is entirely predictable, it ticks along at a fair pace and never drags during its two-hour running time, and compared to the majority of 2013’s releases, you can’t say that about most films of that length or longer.
On the plus side, there’s a number of cool shots to the head, or even knives to the head! Nicely violent! However, everything’s CGI’d to within an inch of its life, making a lot of scenes look like an intro to an Xbox 360 game. There’s also a rather poor edit as Gerard is equipping himself just after taking down a baddie, 42 minutes in.
Also, it’s laughable how, after an early massive gunfight – with RPG and chain gun thrown into the mix – only Gerard seems to be left, but then again, he always wanted to get his job back and this should make it easy for him… (something he, in fact, actually jokes about during the film)
As for the cast, Gerard comes off best with this, giving off a few wisecracks through a strangely distorted jaw as if he’s been punched in it – except that he’s been like that from the start; Dylan McDermott is reasonable as Presidential aide Forbes, as is Rick Yune as the main bad guy. However, Eckhart just goes through the motions because he’s not given a lot to do as the President, snarling at being held captive, while Radha Mitchell gets nothing to do but play the simpering wife to Gerard.
Coming later this year is White House Down, a similar actioner starring Channing Tatum. Why do similar films always come out in pairs? Either way, for entertainment value, it’ll be interesting to see if it can improve on providing ‘bang for your buck’, but then it is being directed by Roland Emmerich, so anything is possible.
Olympus Has Fallen also avoids being too jingoistic to the point where it overshadows the action, unlike a lot of Emmerich’s films.
Go to page 2 for a look at the presentation and the extras.
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.