This one's worth checking out.

This one’s worth checking out.

A bit clichéd but overall pretty fun

A bit clichéd but overall pretty fun

Olympus Has Fallen is a recent action thriller by Antoine Fuqua that I think will be enjoyed if you’re in the right mindset. I imagine that many will take issue with its occasional clichés and patriotic nature, but as for me, I was able to excuse most of the film’s drawbacks and I ultimately find myself recommending it.

Morgan Freeman is put in charge after the White House falls.

Morgan Freeman is put in charge after the White House falls.

The movie involves a terrorist attack on Washington D.C. where the White House is taken over by testy Koreans and the president is taken hostage. This idea was apparently so great that another filmmaker decided to tell his own version of it the same exact year. More on that later.

The president in this movie, Benjamin Asher, is played by Aaron Eckhart. He is grieving the death of his wife Margaret (Ashley Judd) and expecting a visit from  the South Korean Prime Minister. He has also removed one of his bodyguards, Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) from Presidental Detail as Banning’s mere presence triggers the president’s memories of the night when Margaret was taken from him. Banning still works in the Treasury Department, however, and maintains his eyes on the White House, which turns out to be a good thing when that very same building suddenly falls under attack during Asher’s meeting with the Prime Minister and some serious mayhem ensues.

Disguised as local garbage workers, tourists and even members of the South Korean Prime Minister’s detail, North Korean terrorist forces perform a massive air and ground assault on the White House, resulting in countless deaths, the capture of President Asher and the revelation that a treacherous, ex-Secret Service agent played by Dylan McDermott was in on the whole thing. The assault has been orchestrated by vicious terrorist mastermind Kang Yeonsak (Rick Yune), who seems to aspire to reunite the North and the South into one Korea, as well as turning the USA into a nuclear wasteland. The situation appears hopeless, except that Mike Banning, having survived the onslaught after returning to help his old colleagues against the North Korean guerillas, manages to get in contact with the Speaker of the House, Allan Thurmbull (Morgan Freeman) from inside the occupied White House. Thurmbull authorizes Banning to continue his dangerous mission of rescuing the hostages and saving the day.


Mike Banning vs. White House.

I might need to re-watch Olympus Has Fallen at some point. Even though I didn’t like the film quite as much as I thought I would, I did have a mostly good time watching it and there are some things it gets right.

In addition to having a compelling leading cast, the supporting cast provides us Angela Bassett as a Secret Service supervisor, Radha Mitchell as Banning’s wife, Melissa Leo as the Secretary of Defense and good old Robert Forster as a US Army Chief of Staff. Speaking of the casting, the character of Morgan Freeman is, after the kidnapping of President Asher takes place, given the role of “Acting President” and my theory is that they couldn’t resist this because they originally wanted him to play the actual president. After Deep Impact, I believe most people want that. Hell, Morgan Freeman should be the president in real life.

 Just as we’ve had multiple movies about the apocalypse this year (see Oblivion and After Earth, for instance), Olympus Has Fallen is not the only movie about an attack on the White House we’ve gotten in 2013. Another one is Roland Emmerich‘s White House Down, with Jamie Foxx as the president. I have not yet seen White House Down, although it seems to me like it’s essentially that dorky kid on the playground who’s trying too hard to be one of the cool kids. Perhaps I’ll watch and review it in the future.

For now, though, I assume that Olympus Has Fallen is the better of the two. In spite of some flaws and annoyances, I enjoyed it for what it was. It’s a nice and generally well-acted action film with pretty scenes of violence and mayhem set to equally pretty music. Some great visuals are present especially during the attack scene, one of my favourite images in the film being a shot of a damaged White House against a blood-red skyline as the American flag slowly falls to the ground. That’s what you get for listening in on people’s phone calls, I guess. Hm, maybe Kang and his men should’ve been the protagonists?

Many people who disliked the movie seem to have the common criticism that many of the characters, especially those inside the White House are way too stupid. I didn’t really see this as a flaw, though, since I found that it made the movie more realistic.

3.5/5 whatever