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Olympus Has Fallen

2013 | 120 min | R | 2.39:1

Olympus Has Fallen


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User reviews

7 user reviews

Movie appeal



Theatrical release date

 22 March, 2013
 19 April, 2013

Country of origin

 United States

Box office




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Olympus Has Fallen


Screenshots from Olympus Has Fallen Blu-ray

Olympus Has Fallen Preview  

 / 10
Preview by Brian Orndorf, March 21, 2013

"Olympus Has Fallen" is one of the dumbest films I have ever seen. And I've watched all of Tyler Perry's movies.

A trusted Secret Service Agent working with President Asher (Aaron Eckhart), Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) removes himself from protection duty after a horrible snowbound car accident accidently kills the First Lady (Ashley Judd). Months later, Banning is growing tired of his Treasury Department office job, yearning to get back into the thick of things as Asher deals with a crisis involving the North Koreans. As the White House welcomes a delegation from South Korea for a diplomatic visit, all hell breaks loose when a plane slips into Washington airspace, unleashing powerful guns that mow down a significant number of military personnel and civilians, followed by another attack on the ground, with the enemy force slipping inside the property, barricading themselves inside. Trying to repel the invasion, Banning finds himself back inside the White House, alone and heavily armed -- the last man alive. Revealing his master plan for the destruction of America via secret nuclear launch codes, terrorist Kang (Rick Yune) threatens the acting President, Speaker Trumbull (Morgan Freeman), and his team of advisors (including Angela Bassett and Robert Forster). Now on his own, Banning sets out to rescue Asher and the rest of the hostages (including Melissa Leo), taking on Kang's army and its secret super-powered weapons.

If the plot of "Olympus Has Fallen" sounds an awful lot like "Die Hard," you're paying attention. However, this is no simple rip-off of the 1988 John McTiernan classic (we've seen plenty of those over the last 25 years), it actually steals entire scenes wholesale, laboring to create a John McClane atmosphere of quips and terrorist revelations for Banning to slap around. The script by Creighton Rothenberger and Katrin Benedikt (their first produced screenplay) is fairly shameless with its pilfering, brazenly reheating famous moments of misbegotten assistance from overwhelmed military teams, and presenting a scene where Banning unknowingly interacts with one of the terrorists, who attempts to pass himself off as a frightened bystander to the chaos. It's theft, and it's not even interestingly reshaped by the production, registering as insulting repetition to action fans who know "Die Hard" by heart.

Working with stock characters and leaden dialogue that's communicated unconvincingly by an ensemble comprised entirely of actors out for an easy payday, director Antoine Fuqua ("Training Day," "Brooklyn's Finest") feels he has no choice but to emphasize violence, and good heavens, is "Olympus Has Fallen" ever aggressive. Although the carnage is painted with crummy CGI bloodletting (look close and watch the bullet holes shake), it remains almost apocalyptic in its presentation of death, detailing the attack with a wave of bullets and flopping bodies that makes "Django Unchained" look like "The Oogieloves."

As the terrorists spray the National Mall with their high-tech guns and storm the White House lawn, the casualties are numerous, with men, women, and even dogs blasted into oblivion. Granted, to make the initial attack frightening, some degree of mayhem is expected. However, there's no cinematic finesse here, just a brutal orgy of violence that fetishizes spent bullet casings, goes out of its way to show off severed limbs (hey, those things are expensive), and stages the fall of the Washington Monument to resemble the crumbling of the World Trade Center on 9/11. It's shockingly tasteless stuff, even for a dopey bruiser of a picture that includes a scene where the baddies ball up a shredded American flag and toss it off the White House roof, with Fuqua capturing the death of holy fabric in melodramatic slo-mo.

The mismanaged rage extends to Banning's White House defense, finding the former Special Forces tank in a particularly stabby mood, plunging knives into heads and bellies with abandon. These moments of punctuation should be accompanied by irresistible punchlines cruelly mocking Kang and his crew, but Butler and the script can barely summon the energy.

"Olympus Has Fallen" is pure absurdity, but far from camp. Fuqua takes the picture with the utmost seriousness, cranking up notes of national pride, working to shape Banning into a no-nonsense, unstoppable, all-American hero. Despite its enthusiasm, the production is a wreck in every facet of filmmaking, offering shoddy visual effects, murky cinematography, confused editing, contrived scoring, and abysmal acting (Freeman's entire role consists of sitting in a chair and looking concerned). For a feature that's determined to celebrate freedom and U.S. kick-assery, "Olympus Has Fallen" is a technical and dramatic shambles. Those old television station sign-off montages had more profound patriotic intent. And for those without the patience to digest such pea-brained muscle-flexing, the movie is unwatchable.

Concluding with a ticking clock scenario and an anti-climatic mano-a-mano fight, "Olympus Has Fallen" exhausts itself even without the burden of originality. It's dreadful, noisy, and ludicrous, not even worth the effort to assess it for future guilty pleasure enjoyment. And the fun doesn't stop here, folks, with the coming summer offering a similar premise in Roland Emmerich's "White House Down" (starring Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx). However, at this point, that picture needs only to remain in focus to stand proud as the more competent of the dueling presidential hostage movies.

Starring: Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Morgan Freeman, Angela Bassett, Dylan McDermott, Rick Yune
Director: Antoine Fuqua

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