With the number of blockbuster movies to watch out for this year, Olympus Has Fallen seemed undermarketed compared to expected hits like Iron Man, The Hunger Games, Oblivion, The Host and the like. However, looking closer into this movie. One would find that it has a pretty solid cast, a rather ambitious premise and a potential to be one wicked action thriller. On most counts, i believe it delivered.
Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) is the lead Secret Service agent detailed to the White House but more than that, he enjoys a close relationship with President Asher (Aaron Eckhart) and his family. But when an accident makes the President lose confidence in his friend, Mike is exiled to the Treasury Office, where he still keeps one eye out for his commander in chief from a distance. When tension reignites in the Korean peninsula and the the South Korean Prime Minister visits the White House to seek the help of the United States against the North, the White House is blindsided by a daring assault in which its top officials are caught in a compromising situation. With the top brass at gunpoint, all that stands between the fall of Seoul and the future of the United States is the Speaker of the House Allan Trumbull (Morgan Freeman) and Mike Banning.
If one would ignore the glaring loopholes in the story (e.g. lapses in security protocol, the ability of the main antagonist to infiltrate the government without anybody doing a background check, the slow response time of the military and the sheer idiocy of the Secret Service strategy), it would be very easy to enjoy this movie. Directed by the dude who helmed Training Day and The Replacement Killers (Antoine Fuqua), this movie was not short of amazing strategy, thrills and cool action sequences. It had sort of a Die Hard vibe going for it but on a larger scale because never have I seen a movie in which the White House decimated on such a level so strategically and so efficiently. Hats off to the writers Creighton Rothenberger and Katrin Benedikt for the sheer brilliance of the material.
Olympus is the type of movie that will have audiences on the edge of their seats because of the suspense and those with weak stomachs to head for the door for the sheer brutality of the scenes. More than the violence, it gets audiences to think about what’s going on in the world today, especially since North Korea is cast anew by Hollywood as the villain of the piece. It makes audiences think about what would have happened if United 93 had hit its target on September 11 rather than crashing into a field in Pennsylavia because of the heroic acts of its passengers. It also gives an insight into the suffering of the people in the North and what drives them to act as they do.
What I loved about the movie was that it did not have a one dimensional plot. Just when one thinks that they have the entire thing figured out, the villains will reveal a new motive in which a new strategy is revealed. And the action will take off again. It did have a formulaic approach to the movie but it really worked out. Superb cast by the way. Their performances played off each other really well.
All in all, one man saving the world is still a long shot, but I thought Olympus has Fallen was great. Plus, with Morgan Freeman as acting head of state, how can one go wrong? Kudos to everybody involved in this film. A $70 million budget well spent. I had a lot of fun watching it but I’m afraid some of my hair may have turned gray in the two hours it took to finish the movie because of tension. That and a couple of my nails bitten to excess, but these were sacrifices well worth it.