Review: Olympus Has Fallen

THE SETUP: A former Secret Service agent (Gerard Butler) goes through a ridiculous job interview process to try to get his old job back, including a body count in the 100s, a North Korean terrorist and some serious federal property damage.

THE THOUGHTS:  There are a few things that were working against this film. First, there are a lot of “attack the president” movies coming out right now, whether it’s subtle (Lincoln) or blatant (White House Down, GI Joe: Retaliation) so this could easily have been lost in the mix. Also, the “one-man army against impossible odds” thing has been done to death, one of the best being Die Hard, which also had a sequel out recently. Even with those challenges, it was actually a decent action flick.

YAYS: It’s an R-Rated movie!! I understand the motivation of studios to make their movies PG-13 so as to let more people (aka more money) into the theatre. But I miss the R. Do you think people in those situations wouldn’t swear? And there’s nothing wrong with films being a little less violent, unless that’s all there is out there for action movies. The 80s and 90s were filled with them. Spice of life, right?

Fight scenes. Gerard Butler looked really believable, as a well trained, no nonsense combatant. Quick, brutal and very little witty banter. (Side note: welcome back Butler. Your foray into romantic comedies got really old, really fast. Sorry, you didn’t do it for me, and apparently most of the ladies aka low box office. However, if you’re looking at more R-rated action a la 300 and Rocknrolla… yes, please).

As well, the acting was just fine. For a movie like this, you want to root for the good guy, with a few good moments from the supporting cast to keep the story moving. You can’t go wrong with Morgan Freeman, Angela Bassett and Aaron Eckhart.

NAYS: The story however was most of the problem with this film. Cue voice over guy…A disgraced ______ finds himself in a dire situation, taking on impossible odds and an army of ______ using his well-suited skills to redeem himself and right previous wrongs.  Sound familiar? And I don’t have a problem with this if the script or director throws a curveball in there to shake things up. Unfortunately all we got was setting it at the White House which wasn’t enough. It really was Die Hard in the White House.

And the special effects didn’t do it for me. While not enough to pull me out of the movie, the CGI was a little better than some of the things they’re doing on TV these days. I’m not looking for Avatar here but if you’re big scene is a plane crashing on to the White House lawn, put a few more dollars into the collision.


3 stars  good movie, take a friend. Though it’s an entertaining movie with a little more adult grit and action, it doesn’t veer off the formulaic path enough to be a great movie. Though it is better than the latest installment of the franchise it’s ripping off. (Yippee-kayee, Mr. President.)

Random Recommendations

In the Line of Fire (1993) – Now if you want to be a disgraced Secret Service guy trying to make good from previous mistakes, it helps when you’re already Dirty Harry. The cat and mouse game between Clint Eastwood and assassin John Malkovich is fantastic, as is the intensity of the situations. Still holds up really well after 20 years.

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  1. Nice review Russel. Absolutely stupid, but well worth the watch for exactly that: fun, stupid, and dumb fun.
    Dan O. recently posted…In Time (2011)My Profile

  2. Thanks for the kind words Dan. I think a movie can still be “good” without having to be anything more than entertaining. Me: I was entertained. Following up on a recent question I’m throwing around: Who’s your favourite movie U.S. president?

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