Review by: Dan Aquino
Now, I’m not going to sit here and tell you that this movie has saved his career or that it’s his best movie, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction for Butler. It’s a simple concept, have a bad ass hero thrust into impossible odds against an incredibly well stocked army in a confined area, throw some explosions in there and some catchy lines, and you’re golden. This movie should have been called Hey Die Hard, Remember When You Used To Be Good? Plus, it always helps to throw in Morgan Freeman as the President in there for the cool factor.
The movie begins with President Benjamin Asher (Aaron Eckhart) and his family vacationing in Camp David for the holidays and getting ready to go to a presidential fund raiser. Here we meet the head of his Secret Service detail Mike Banning (Gerard Butler). Banning is a friendly, outgoing man, joking with the President and his wife, and having a connection with their son Connor. On their way to the fund raiser, the motorcade gets into an accident due to the inclimate weather, and Banning is forced to save President Asher instead of his wife. Cut to 18 months later and Banning has been removed from the Secret Service for a desk job in the Treasury. Always reminded of that fateful night, Banning’s personal life starts to suffer. He has trouble concentrating, and his wife complains that he is too distant. He agrees to this and says that after work they should both go on a date to the movies.
Meanwhile, President Asher is getting ready to meet with the Prime Minister of South Korea and his associates to discuss peace terms with North Korea and other military talks. Shortly after, there is a breach in security as a giant gunship travels near the White House wiping out most of the security that guards the front gate and the perimeter. Secret Service immediately gets Asher and the South Korean members into the bunkers hid deep beneath the White House. Banning hears the commotion and runs to see if he can be of any assistance. Upon arriving, he comes upon a scene of total carnage. Guards are being torn to pieces by waves of Koreans with high-tech assault rifles and heavy artillery, but he does his best to help, picking off bad guys with his hand gun. Realizing that they are woefully outnumbered, Banning pleads with the rest of the White House forces to retreat inside but it’s too late as all of them have been killed.
After hearing that the White House (which is codenamed Olympus in case you were wondering why the title of the movie was called Olympus Has Fallen) we find out that there was a traitor in the Secret Service and that one of the members of the South Korean consulate was actually North Korean (bum bum bummmmmmmm). Now with the President and his cabinet members held hostage in the secure bunker, it’s up to Banning to find and rescue the President…at any means necessary.
What follows is Banning going through the confines of the White House taking out the terrorists and generally kicking ass. He hardly talks, but when he does it makes a point, not just your usual kill a bad guy make a pun. Although there is a part where he smashes a bad guys head in with a bust of Lincoln and I wish he would of said “Emancipate THIS!” Also what is kind of refreshing is that they don’t just focus on Butler’s character but also the tough decisions that Freeman’s character has to make as the standing President since Eckhart can’t fulfill his duties. It helps to split up the pace of the movie, and gives a decent break from the action.
The villain of this movie is simply known as Kang (played by Rick Yune). A very level headed, calculating monster who of course will stop at nothing to get what he wants. He isn’t a ground breaking villain, but his goal is keeping with the times. North Korea as of now is the biggest threat to America and her interests, and that’s exactly what Kang is after. Again, he rarely speaks but when he does it serves a purpose, nothing is wasted with this character. His dialogue with Butler is funny and short, basically when they talk they take jabs at each other and that’s it. He turns the White House into his own personal fortress, repelling attacks from the military with state of the art weapons defenses and staging video executions for the other members of the White House to see. Overall, you want to stay as far away from this guy as humanly possible.
At its core, Olympus Has Fallen is your run of the mill action thriller, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have something to bring to the table. Butler’s character is three-dimensional, he was a nice guy who just happened upon bad circumstances and is looking for a way to redeem himself. You applaud him when he says something badass or when he kills a bad guy in a cool way. This movie also plays to your patriotism, no one likes seeing hundreds of agents, policemen, and military men get blown away so we want Butler’s character to kick ass even more than normal for payback. Having him confined strictly to the White House is also a plus. Tight corridors, plenty of doors to look behind and even secret hallways, help to keep things suspenseful. And the thing that actually drew me to this movie was that it was rated R, I can’t remember the last time I saw an R-rated movie and I gotta tell ya, it felt good to hear the hero curse up a storm and say he’s gonna shove his knife in the bad guys fuckin head.