Full of explosions, machine gun fire and hand to hand combat, all in support of an absolutely preposterous scenario, “Olympus Has Fallen” offers us big dumb summer movie fun in the first days of Spring.
Mike Banning (Gerard Butler), a high-ranking Secret Service Agent, is taken off of the President’s protective detail when he fails to save the First Lady’s (Ashley Judd) life after a wintry car crash. He performed his duties properly and saved the President first, but the President (Aaron Eckhart) doesn’t want to constantly see him and be reminded of the tragedy on a daily basis, so he’s reassigned to Treasury.
Thankfully, Banning’s new station is still within walking distance of the White House, because mere months after the loss of the First Lady, the White House is stormed by a North Korean paramilitary group, and the President and his staff are taken hostage. The Secret Service guarding the White House is massacred in the assault, and Banning, who rushed over as the attack commenced, is the sole agent left alive.
The government regroups and names the Speaker of the House (Morgan Freeman) interim President. Advised by the head of the Secret Service (Angela Bassett) and a high-ranking General (Robert Forster), the new President negotiates for the old President’s life with the terrorist commander (Rick Yune). It isn’t long, however, before they realize that the terrorists may not actually want American forces to withdraw from the Korean Demilitarized Zone, as they’re saying, but that they’re after top-secret codes pertaining to America’s nuclear arsenal.
With the White House in the hands of armed terrorists, the President being held hostage, and the keys to America’s nukes in the balance, the provisional Government has only one hope: Mike Banning.
“Olympus Has Fallen” certainly doesn’t have much in the way of realism. The Korean takeover of the White House is ridiculously easy, and the American military response is ridiculously slow. When they bring the U.S. nuclear arsenal into play, the cheese begins to build.
Yet this isn’t a “split grade” scenario. With a cast that boasts Morgan Freeman, Angela Bassett, Robert Forster, Aaron Eckhart and Dylan McDermott in support of Gerard Butler, “Olympus” isn’t lacking in star wattage. And the action that the movie delivers is fun, if not exactly top-notch. While the movie isn’t very plausible, it’s paced and plotted well enough to keep things moving, and to keep you from questioning anything for too long. Plus, the fact that it’s the White House being attacked, and the President that’s being held hostage, gives the movie a certain amount of weight it wouldn’t have had if the standoff was set in say… a shopping mall.
The result is a fun, if not wholly original, action movie that you won’t have to turn your brain off all the way in order to enjoy. Butler gets to kick a lot of ass, the White House gets trashed, and we get to see Morgan Freeman in his second term as movie president (“Deep Impact”). There’s a lot to enjoy, and it’s an easy recommendation for fans of shoot ‘em ups.