Olympus Has Fallen (2013) – 5 Course Review

Directed by: Antoine Fuqua

Written by: Creighton Rothernberger & Katrin Benedikt

Gerard Butler
Aaron Eckhart
Morgan Freeman
Melissa Leo
Robert Forster
Angela Bassett
Dylan McDermott
Ashley Judd
Rick Yune

Running Time: 120 minutes

The antipasto = Synopsis
After a tragic accident, Secret Service agent Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) is removed from his Presidential detail. When Korean terrorists initiate a surprise assault on the White House and take the President (Aaron Eckhart) and members of his staff as hostages, agent Banning finds himself back in the White House. Using his knowledge of the location, experience as an agent and military expertise, Banning tries to keep the acting Administration informed of the situation while trying to avoid a historic national disaster.

White House

The primo = Acting/Directing
Gerard Butler’s career has been all over the map as of late. He’s starred in films that have been unseen (Coriolanus), underrated (Law Abiding Citizen, inspirational (Chasing Mavericks) and unnecessary (Playing For Keeps). A career that looked extremely promising after his breakthrough starring role in 300 seemed to have run its course. In Olympus Has Fallen Butler gets his career back on track by doing his best John McClane impersonation, and does it extremely well. Butler has a certain believability about him in the role of a secret service agent with a special-ops background, and that is what makes Olympus Has Fallen stand out among typical action films. Similar to the way Bruce Willis was believable as the everyday cop from New York in Die Hard.

Gerard Butler

Aaron Eckhart‘s President Benjamin Asher exudes confidence during a dire situation, and it’s Eckert that lends credence to the character he was perfectly cast to portray. Over the past 20 years we’ve seen my depictions of the President of the United States. Kevin Kline was the caring impersonator who stands in for an unpopular President in Dave, Harrison Ford did an admirable job as a President who fought back in Air Force One, and Morgan Freeman was the voice of reason in rebuilding the country in Deep Impact.

Aaron Eckhart

Speaking of one of the all-time greatest actors, Morgan Freeman plays Speaker Trumbull who is forced to stand in as the acting President. Although nothing more than a supporting character in Olympus Has Fallen, if ever there was an actor who presence provides credibility to a film, without a doubt it’s Morgan Freeman.

Morgan Freeman

The rest of the supporting cast is nothing to sneeze at either. Oscar winner Melissa Leo plays Secretary of Defense Ruth McMillan, once Oscar nominated Robert Forster plays General Edward Clegg, and once Oscar nominated Angela Bassett plays Secret Service Director Lynn Jacobs. Ashley Judd, Dylan McDermott and Rick Yune are equally well cast in their respective roles.

Although not often mentioned in the same breath as some of today’s best directors, Antoine Fuqua has established himself as an excellent director. His resume includes some very respectable films such as Training Day, Tears of the Sun and Brooklyn’s Finest. Fuqua may not be an Oscar winning director, but he most certainly deserves a fair amount of respect. I for one appreciate the effort he puts into making a film, and will be certain to pay closer attention to films that he releases.

The contorno = Sight and Sound
Olympus Has Fallen is a typical action movie; there are plenty of explosions, gun fights and dialogue exchanges between the hero and the villain. Obviously taking place in Washington, D.C. there are a few shots of the surrounding monuments, but thankfully it isn’t over done. The sequences that take place inside the White House, which is where the film predominately takes place, however are shot too dark and I would have appreciated a brighter picture to fully take in the destruction. The action scenes not only sound great, but they aren’t just included for effect because of how big the explosions are and how loud the devastation can be, everything is done with a purpose to further the story.

The dialogue in Olympus Has Fallen is pretty good and is delivered in an effective way, which is a testament to the cast in place. There are a few interactions between characters that are entertaining and reminiscent of 90’s action movies such as Commando, Rambo and Die Hard; and the comparisons to Die Hard don’t stop there.

The secondo = My Thoughts
In my opinion, Die Hard is the greatest action movie of all-time and has been imitated countless times and that should be taken as high-praise. If you’re going to copy something, you might as well copy the best. Olympus Has Fallen is a definite re-imagining of Die Hard, but it’s a damn good one. In all honesty, this is what I wanted out of the disappointing A Good Day to Die Hard.

John McClane

The film is definitely not without flaws, as is often the case there’s a certain suspension of belief that’s needed. A few questionable things, such as a Secret Service agent that was removed from his post at the White House somehow still able to easily gain access seems a bit impossible but it’s not enough to cause you to find disappointment. Olympus Has Fallen rises above the flaws and ends up an enjoyable and entertaining film.

The dolce = My Grade
4 half canoli



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  1. Nice review, Joe. I have to say though, I’m very surprised at the great reception this one’s been getting! I thought critics would tear it apart but the reviews I’ve read say it’s pretty good fun.

    • Thanks Fernando!

      I honestly expected nothing more than your typical cliched action movie, and was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed the finished product.

      One of the best action movies we’ve seen in some time.

    • Haha, I didn’t even think about that Nate but yes, you are definitely right.

      It was surprisingly good.

  2. Joe, you hit it on the head this is what the last Die Hard needed, a sense of joy and some violence with consequence. Not the hot air ballon we got. I know it’s early in the year but Olympus is the biggest surprise so far.

    • Thanks Jason!

      Yeah, I don’t think there’s any doubt that it’s the biggest surprise. It puts a lot of pressure on White House Down

  3. Well Joe, you have now made me want to go out and see this immediately. I’ve read some good reviews and knew it was much better than I expected, but you certainly brought it home. I’m glad that Butler is finally finding his action roots again. Let’s hope this is a step in the right direction.

    • Nick, if Butler has any common sense whatsoever or at the very least an intelligent agent, the next few roles he takes will be action roles. He brought his A game on this one. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

  4. Great review man, very entertaining! I agree this is waaay better than the last Die Hard offering. You can add Machine Gun Preacher to the list of Butler’s unseen, underrated and inspirational film btw :D

    • I appreciate that very much Ruth! I’ve said that the original Die Hard is my all-time favorite action movie. I enjoyed Die Hard 2 (although my memory of the film isn’t a good, due to an extremely uncomfortable first date), and I absolutely loved Die Hard with a Vengeance…I even tolerate Live Free and Die Hard, but A Good Day to Die Hard was insulting to the John McClane character and even more so to fans of the franchise. Olympus Has Fallen was everything I wanted in a new Die Hard film, and from reviews I’ve read it makes me feel good to know that I’m in the majority.

      I just recently picked up Machine Gun Preacher, so I’ll be checking that out soon enough.

      Thanks again Ruth!

  5. Nice review. The performances are great, and I especially liked Melissa Leo. She did some dramatic work here that almost put this in a whole other category. The movie draws the obvious comparison as you point out, but stands on it’s own too as a good action thriller. Well done.

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