Olympus Has Fallen

Directed by: Antoine Fuqua

Starring:  Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Morgan Freeman, Angela Bassett, Rick Yune, and Dylan McDermott

Late last weekend, I was flipping through cable channels and I stumbled across Air Force One on the Starz network.  I was reminded of what a well-done presidential, terrorist, kidnapping action flick looks like.  Olympus Has Fallen is decent, but it is no Air Force One.

In Olympus Has Fallen, Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) is a part of a secret service detail guarding President Asher (Aaron Eckhart), the first lady (Ashley Judd) and their son Connor (Finley Jacobson).  At the beginning of the film, the first family is headed to a Christmas Party.  It is snowing heavily, and the limousine carrying the President and the first lady swerves while on a bridge and hits the railings.  As the limo hangs off of the bridge, Banning decides to save the President and the first lady plummets to her death.  After the accident, the President ships Banning off to desk job at the Treasury Department because he cannot bear to see the man who he views as responsible for his wife’s death. 

Banning misses the action, misses the White House and is bored to death behind a desk.  All of that changes when a South Korean delegation arrives for a meeting with the President.  During the meeting, a rogue plane attacks Washington, D.C., killing citizens and destroying the Washington monument.  The President is rushed to a secure bunker below the White House. As he is in meetings with the South Koreans, he decides to breach protocol and bring them into the bunker with him.  Unbeknownst to him, Kang (Rick Yune), one of the delegates, is actually from North Korea.  He and his fellow terrorists kill every secret servicemen in sight with relative ease and take over control of the White House. 

But wait, there is one American who can fight off the North Korean terrorists! (Oh, wait, Gerard Butler is from Scotland, but I guess that’s close enough?).  In any event, Banning rushes to the White House and is able to get in and wreak havoc on Kang’s evil plans.  As House Speaker Trumbull (Morgan Freeman) and the head of the secret service Lynn Jacobs (Angela Bassett) struggle with a strategy to address the situation, they realize that Banning is their only hope.  They race against time to prevent Kang and his cronies from breaking the code for a secret system called Cerberus, and arming every nuclear weapon in the United States.

Olympus Has Fallen delivers in the action department.  Antoine Fuqua keeps the film fast-paced and suspenseful with nail-biting moments and vicious violence.  Moreover, protagonist Gerard Butler is back in 300 form.  He is kicking butt and taking names in this film and he is incredibly convincing as a deadly, smart secret service agent.  The supporting cast is also strong.  Rick Yune seems to be on standby for whenever a script calls for a good-looking evil Asian villain (i.e. Die Another Day, The Fast and The Furious).  But I cannot complain because he does his job well.  Angela Bassett and Aaron Eckhart also deliver strong performances.  Morgan Freeman, however, seems to be phoning this one.  Needs work Freeman, needs work.

While Olympus Has Fallen delivers on the action front, the storyline is a bit implausible.  Having been in D.C. when 9/11 hit and understanding the security measures that have been put in place, I just do not think this is possible.  The idea that every single secret service agent in the White House could be gunned down in less than 13 minutes and no other law enforcement could come to the White House’s assistance to prevent a takeover?  Not bloody likely.  In addition, the film is incredibly heavy handed on the patriotism front, and really plays on the U.S. versus evil foreigners’ angle.  It is a bit much at times, particularly towards the end.

Olympus Has Fallen earns a 0.06% rating.  If you’re looking for action, grab a beer and check it out.  My theater seemed to skew to the over 45 crowd, so the AARP crowd may enjoy this more.