Review: OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN (2013) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Saturday, 23 March 2013


 Okay, I'm a Sparta in the past. I'm still a Sparta now...
Blessed with Antoine Fuqua's taut direction and Gerard Butler's compelling performance, OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN fulfills most of the requirements of an edge-of-the-seat mindless '90s action movie that other like-minded genres have failed recently.

Now this is what recent '90s-style action movie fiascos (Arnold Schwarzenegger's THE LAST STAND, Sylvester Stallone's BULLET TO THE HEAD and Bruce Willis's A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD) should take note: Antoine Fuqua's "Die Hard in the White House" action thriller, OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN is one of the best examples of a mindless entertainment -- full of implausibilities but satisfying enough to warrant this as an edge-of-the-seat crowd pleaser.


Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) is one of the best Secret Service agents who is highly respected by U.S. President Benjamin Asher (Aaron Eckhart) and both of them are treated each other like good friends. But it's not until one night that Mike ends up blaming himself for the tragic death of First Lady Margaret (Ashley Judd) in a Christmas Eve car accident near Camp David, even though he manages to save the President's life. Eighteen months later, Mike is now transferred to a desk job at the Federal Reserve and he's about to pull back into action when the White House is unexpectedly held under siege by a group of North Korean terrorists, lead by Kang Yeonsak (Rick Yune). Apparently Kang has kidnapped the President and some of the important peoples inside the bunker where he is determined to extract the three codes needed to launch nuclear weapons across the country. The only hope left is Mike Banning, who manages to shoot his way through into the White House and uses whatever skills he has to save the day.

Director Antoine Fuqua sure knows a lot about executing a series of hard-hitting action sequences that made full use of its R-rating. The pacing is mostly tight, while screenwriters Crieghton Rothenberger and Katrin Benedikt pulls off quite an achievement of replicating a DIE-HARD-like template with sheer gusto (you will even notice some of the obvious nods from that 1988 action masterpiece). Another one of course, is the comeback performance by the gritty Gerard Butler who is sorely missed for playing an action-oriented role since relegated himself to a series of lame romantic comedies. And he's pretty good with wisecracking one-liners as well.


The 15-minute ambush sequence on the White House -- ranging from the air attack by the North Korean fighter plane to a ground attack by a group of terrorists disguised as tourists -- is no doubt the movie's most exciting moment.


Mike Banning: Let's play a game of F--k Off. You go first.


Most of the action scenes take place inside the White House where the lights either goes off or badly lit -- which at times, can be quite frustrating to watch for. Other times, there are plenty of annoying jittery cams all over the place. Some of the CGI effects are flimsy, even though the movie is blessed with a US$80 million budget tag.


 Listen to me very carefully, Mr. President. I don't want your money or your nuke. I just want an Olympus camera.

Despite some of its glaring flaws, OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN remains a fun thrill ride for action junkies. Let's see if Roland Emmerich can keep up the pace or perhaps going a notch better with the similarly-themed "Die Hard in the White House" action thriller, WHITE HOUSE DOWN three months later.

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