The Movie Waffler New Release Review - Olympus Has Fallen | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review - Olympus Has Fallen

A former presidential aide becomes America's only hope when terrorists take over the White House.

Directed by: Antoine Fuqua
Starring: Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Morgan Freeman, Dylan McDermott, Rick Yune, Angela Bassett, Melissa Leo, Radha Mitchell, Cole Hauser, Ashley Judd

Secret service agent Mike Banning (Butler) was the head of the Presidential detail until an incident cost the life of the First Lady (Judd). Eighteen months later Banning is working in Washington's treasury department, still haunted by his failing to save the First Lady. In the White House, President Benjamin Asher (Eckhart) is holding an emergency meeting with the South Korean Prime Minister to discuss the escalation of threats from North Korea. During the meeting, Washington comes under attack from a North Korean terrorist group. Members of the South Korean security detail turn out to be members of this terrorist group and the White House is seized. When the chaos breaks out, Banning heads to the White House and finds himself the only man in the building who can save the President and his staff.
An American city is rocked by explosions. North Korea threatens nuclear war. The distributors of 'Olympus Has Fallen' couldn't have imagined the release of their film would coincide with such real life events. The first of two films to feature White House sieges, (Roland Emmerich's 'White House Down' arrives later), Fuqua's film is clearly attempting to be the grittier of the pair. Unfortunately, Fuqua's idea of "grit" results in some of the nastiest violence seen in a big Hollywood release for quite some time. The sadistic nature of the violence leaves a nasty taste in the mouth, with countless close-ups of people being shot in the head and one particularly disturbing moment of prolonged violence towards a female character. Bizarrely, the film has received a "15" rating in the U.K and Ireland. Were this level of violence in a horror film it would undoubtedly be an "18", possibly with quite a few cuts. It highlights the hypocrisy of the censors in this regard. I can't recall any recent horror with a level of violence to match what's on display here.
As if the violence wasn't enough to distance you, the script is awful. Remember all those 'Die Hard' clones we got in the late eighties and early nineties? This is the level we're dealing with here. 'Olympus Has Fallen' may deal with a topical issue but in story-telling terms it's two decades too late. Apart from the dodgy scripts, what made all those rip-offs such poor imitations was the lack of a charismatic lead and this film is no different. One of the great mysteries of life is how Butler ever became a movie star. He possesses all the charm of a day old haggis and always gives the impression that even he's not sure what he's doing playing the lead in a blockbuster.
If you look at the film's poster you might assume Freeman plays the President but he's actually the speaker of the house. Hang on though; with the President taken hostage it means he must step into the role so, yes, Freeman practically does play the President. At one point, when the proceedings take one of several nasty turns, he leans back in his chair with a look of resignation. I'm not sure it's acting.