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Review: Olympus Has Fallen

Olympus Has Fallen
Mar. 21, 2013by:
7 10

PLOT: A demoted secret service agent, Mike Banning (Gerard Butler), is the nation's only hope when Washington D.C is attacked by North Korean terrorists, who seize the White House and the president (Aaron Eckhart).

REVIEW: Remember the nineties? Back then, the DIE HARD on a... genre was the go-to formula for action movies. There was SPEED (DIE HARD on a bus), UNDER SIEGE (DIE HARD on a ship), PASSENGER 57 (DIE HARD on a plane), etc. Heck, the genre was so popular, even the clones started to get clones of their own. Remember CHILL FACTOR (SPEED in an Ice Cream truck, and yes, it's a real movie)? It's therefore amazing that Hollywood has taken this long to crank out a DIE HARD in the White House variation, although to make up for it- this year- we're not only getting the tent-pole WHITE HOUSE DOWN, but also this week's entry- OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN.

While WHITE HOUSE DOWN probably has the bigger budget, this one has the cooler title. It also has Antoine Fuqua calling the shots. While I haven't liked all of his movies, it can't be denied that the man knows how to shoot action, and OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN is all action, and R-rated to boot. You'd swear it was the nineties again.

For star Gerard Butler- who's found himself in a slew of pretty bad movies over the last few years- OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN is a major comeback to the type of role he does best. As our hero, Banning, Butler is unusually clean-cut- clean shaven with a tidy haircut- and suits the part of a badass secret service agent, duty bound to rescue his commander and chief. It plays to all of his strengths, with Fuqua giving Butler ample to opportunity to engage in quick and dirty hand-to-hand scraps, and tons of blazing firefights. Butler always delivers in action roles, and this really feels like the kind of movie his built-in audience will go for. There's definitely not a lot of emoting going on, but Butler looks tough and throws off the occasional menacing one-liner with aplomb (although typical for Fuqua, the tone is kept pretty serious).

Outside Butler, the rest of the cast is surprisingly good for a hard action flick, and obviously producers- Millennium Films - were trying to class it up a bit. Aaron Eckhart makes a likable commander-in-chief, although given that he spends almost the entire film tied up, don't expect him to be another action hero president like Harrison Ford in AIR FORCE ONE. This is Butler's show. Morgan Freeman, who played the prez in DEEP IMPACT, is on hand as the speaker of the house, who's made the acting president upon Eckhart's capture. He's not really called on to do much other than act authoritative, which is Freeman to a T, so he suits the role. The most impressive acting in the movie comes from Melissa Leo as the defiant Secretary of State, who suffers a really brutal beating at the hands of baddie Rick Yune towards the middle of the film. Leo takes what could have been a paycheck role and gives it gravitas.

Over the two hour running time, Fuqua doesn't waste a heck of a lot of time on plot, which is probably a good thing as the script feels a more than a tad thin. The way the North Korean terrorists attack the White House really strains credibility, and this is certainly a turn your brain off kind of ride, not that there's anything wrong with that. The terrorists are pretty generic, and even the big baddie, Rick Yune, isn't given much to do other than act mean, and administer beatings. However, my biggest complaint about OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN isn't the lack of depth for the villains, but rather the murky look of the film. DP Conrad W. Hall shrouds most of the action scenes in darkness, as the White House loses power early on. This is understandable, but I wish a better lighting scheme had been found. The movie never looks bad, but I was lucky enough to see it in a top-notch theater. This is the kind of movie that could easily be made indecipherable if the projection isn't perfectly calibrated. Moreover, wall-to-wall darkness is boring, and doesn't do the fight choreography (which seems good) any favors.

The CGI, which is used a lot, is also pretty dodgy, although it seems like less of a liability than the cinematography. Given the scale of the film, OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN could have easily cost twice what it ended up as, and the FX suffers as a result. The initial attack on DC-including an aerial assault- probably needed a much bigger FX budget to be pulled off convincingly. Once again though, Fuqua has to be given credit for not backing off on the carnage, making the attack seem horrific and scary.

Flaws aside, OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN still really delivers a solid two hours of entertainment. It remains to be seen what kind of movie WHITE HOUSE DOWN is going to end up being, but I doubt it'll be as hardcore as Fuqua's movie. As a pure action exercise, OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN really delivers. Gerard Butler fans,who've spent years waiting for this, and hardcore action junkies are going to be very pleased.

Extra Tidbit: OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN is way, WAY better than A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD.
Source: JoBlo.com

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8:38PM on 03/22/2013

Very dumb

I'm perfectly okay with dumb action films, but this one takes itself too seriously. And it was too dark most of the time, I agree with that. "It's okay, give him the code, they'll never have mine" or whatever the line is : the payoff is ridiculously hilarious. Also too much patriotism especially that lame final speech. It definitely felt like a movie from the 90s. By the way SPOILER :
the Amercian traitor in this movie is the guy who is against capitalism and Wall Street. And it's forced down
I'm perfectly okay with dumb action films, but this one takes itself too seriously. And it was too dark most of the time, I agree with that. "It's okay, give him the code, they'll never have mine" or whatever the line is : the payoff is ridiculously hilarious. Also too much patriotism especially that lame final speech. It definitely felt like a movie from the 90s. By the way SPOILER :
the Amercian traitor in this movie is the guy who is against capitalism and Wall Street. And it's forced down our throats as subtle as Mike Tyson's acting.
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10:12AM on 03/22/2013
Can't wait to see this.
Can't wait to see this.
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12:47AM on 03/22/2013
Just for back from the 10pm showing. Movie was entertaining and non stop action for two straight hours. I loved every minute of it. By far the best action film of the year (made Die Hard 5 look like shit) and is my favorite film of the year (so far). White House Down have alot to live up to after Olympus, because this film has set the bar high.
Just for back from the 10pm showing. Movie was entertaining and non stop action for two straight hours. I loved every minute of it. By far the best action film of the year (made Die Hard 5 look like shit) and is my favorite film of the year (so far). White House Down have alot to live up to after Olympus, because this film has set the bar high.
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5:53PM on 03/21/2013

Nice to hear

I've been waiting for Fuqua to direct annother action film since Shooter and this one looks quite good. not to mention it's a great idea.
I've been waiting for Fuqua to direct annother action film since Shooter and this one looks quite good. not to mention it's a great idea.
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3:35PM on 03/21/2013

OHF will be only my second theatrical movie this year

I saw Snitch based on the surprisingly strong reviews and I liked it. Nothing else in 3 months has gotten my attention, but the consistent assessment of this being a 90's throw back and the clips I've seen online have me sold, even if I have to believe White House Down will ultimately prove the better of the two.
I saw Snitch based on the surprisingly strong reviews and I liked it. Nothing else in 3 months has gotten my attention, but the consistent assessment of this being a 90's throw back and the clips I've seen online have me sold, even if I have to believe White House Down will ultimately prove the better of the two.
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12:22PM on 03/21/2013
I'm sold.

Viva Action!!!
I'm sold.

Viva Action!!!
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11:52AM on 03/21/2013

Love the tidbit!

I love a solid action movie and this has my attention. I'm going. Great review Chris!
I love a solid action movie and this has my attention. I'm going. Great review Chris!
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+17
11:31AM on 03/21/2013

when i first saw the trailer for this i thought...

now this should have been Die Hard 5. John McClane touring the White House. maybe his son is secret service. then shit goes down and they're the only ones who can protect the President. .
now this should have been Die Hard 5. John McClane touring the White House. maybe his son is secret service. then shit goes down and they're the only ones who can protect the President. .
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11:26AM on 03/21/2013

sad but true

Most probably YET ANOTHER cool and fun flick who's going to BOMB at the box office :'(
Giving a reason YET ANOTHER reason to say: told you we should have made a PG13 film with a funny young (put your minority here) sidekick...
Most probably YET ANOTHER cool and fun flick who's going to BOMB at the box office :'(
Giving a reason YET ANOTHER reason to say: told you we should have made a PG13 film with a funny young (put your minority here) sidekick...
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11:27AM on 03/21/2013
*giving STUDIO EXECTS a reason
*giving STUDIO EXECTS a reason
1:23PM on 03/21/2013
To be fair, they did that for Bullet to the Head, and it didn't exactly pay off.
To be fair, they did that for Bullet to the Head, and it didn't exactly pay off.
10:14AM on 03/21/2013

Check your brain in at the door...

And you're in for a heck of a ride! Very fun R-Rated action flick. I do agree with the lighting issue though. IGN had made the comment in their review "was this movie lit with an iphone?" and it certainly feels that way sometimes! Small gripe though. I had a blast with this one!
And you're in for a heck of a ride! Very fun R-Rated action flick. I do agree with the lighting issue though. IGN had made the comment in their review "was this movie lit with an iphone?" and it certainly feels that way sometimes! Small gripe though. I had a blast with this one!
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8:53AM on 03/21/2013
If you swap Gerard Butler for Bruce Willis, I'm sure that would have worked better for a Die Hard movie
If you swap Gerard Butler for Bruce Willis, I'm sure that would have worked better for a Die Hard movie
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8:50AM on 03/21/2013
Glad to read a great review. The film looks fantastic and I can't wait to see Butler killing terrorists for two hours.

Can't wait to see this tonight.
Glad to read a great review. The film looks fantastic and I can't wait to see Butler killing terrorists for two hours.

Can't wait to see this tonight.
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11:15AM on 03/21/2013
Why the thumbs down ??
Why the thumbs down ??
12:13PM on 03/21/2013
Cause haters gonna hate. Too many trolls on this site.
Cause haters gonna hate. Too many trolls on this site.
6:33AM on 03/21/2013

Fallen Die Hard

in the 80s & 90s, best action flicks doesnt need best cgi effects..action flick means brutal, gun fight, explosives..just like expandables..a good action flick doesnt mean having people flying around or green body monsters...rambo, die hard & under siege doesnt...i'm in for olympus has fallen
in the 80s & 90s, best action flicks doesnt need best cgi effects..action flick means brutal, gun fight, explosives..just like expandables..a good action flick doesnt mean having people flying around or green body monsters...rambo, die hard & under siege doesnt...i'm in for olympus has fallen
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4:26AM on 03/21/2013
Saw this movie last week at a press screening of sorts. And believe me, or not, Olympus Has Fallen is probably THE BEST action movie I have seen in the last more or less 15 years. Seriously, it's one hell of an entertaining "machine gun" movie! Just like they used to make them in the 80s.
Also, this movie is everything the last Die Hard should have been but wasn't. I mean, take Butler out and insert Willis. Have him save the president. Would have been a perfect Die Hard.
Enjoy this one kids!
Saw this movie last week at a press screening of sorts. And believe me, or not, Olympus Has Fallen is probably THE BEST action movie I have seen in the last more or less 15 years. Seriously, it's one hell of an entertaining "machine gun" movie! Just like they used to make them in the 80s.
Also, this movie is everything the last Die Hard should have been but wasn't. I mean, take Butler out and insert Willis. Have him save the president. Would have been a perfect Die Hard.
Enjoy this one kids!
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11:20AM on 03/21/2013
I'd even say the perfect LAST DIE HARD (they could call it EVERYONE DIE HARD IN THE END). Because, especially for U.S. audience, saving the prez would be the ultimate ass-saving from McLane, so they should keep it for the last film of the franchise... And kill McLane in the end, just to be certain...
I'd even say the perfect LAST DIE HARD (they could call it EVERYONE DIE HARD IN THE END). Because, especially for U.S. audience, saving the prez would be the ultimate ass-saving from McLane, so they should keep it for the last film of the franchise... And kill McLane in the end, just to be certain...
3:16AM on 03/21/2013
This is the third good review I heard in a row. Seems to be the old-fashioned action fix I' ve been begging for some time!
This is the third good review I heard in a row. Seems to be the old-fashioned action fix I' ve been begging for some time!
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2:02AM on 03/21/2013
well how much more of a plot do ya need when it comes to the White House gets attacked by terrorists? I got the same 90s vibe just from watching the trailers. Plus from what I understand this movie was rushed into production to be done in less than a year, which is crazy by today's standards. I like Fuqua as a director, I mean he directed Training Day for Christ's sake & Brooklyn's Finest was very well done also. Definitely need to check this movie out.
well how much more of a plot do ya need when it comes to the White House gets attacked by terrorists? I got the same 90s vibe just from watching the trailers. Plus from what I understand this movie was rushed into production to be done in less than a year, which is crazy by today's standards. I like Fuqua as a director, I mean he directed Training Day for Christ's sake & Brooklyn's Finest was very well done also. Definitely need to check this movie out.
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+6
1:35AM on 03/21/2013
Can I just say how thankful I am for this. I have been so completely disappointed in the action genre for a long time. With all the action films that have come out since 2013 has started, pretty much all have been very disappointing, but even beyond that, 2012 felt a bit thin with this kind of action film. So, it's really nice to see an enjoyable, R-rated, classically styled action film come out. A 7 is good enough for me, and I will happily see this one this weekend.
Can I just say how thankful I am for this. I have been so completely disappointed in the action genre for a long time. With all the action films that have come out since 2013 has started, pretty much all have been very disappointing, but even beyond that, 2012 felt a bit thin with this kind of action film. So, it's really nice to see an enjoyable, R-rated, classically styled action film come out. A 7 is good enough for me, and I will happily see this one this weekend.
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1:29AM on 03/21/2013
It sounds like exactly the kind of film I'd like, seeing as how Air Force One is one of my all-time favourite movies. The dodgy visual effects, as evident in the trailer, does seem a little worrying, but it's good to hear that it's solid fun on the whole. And yeah, it is a much cooler title than "White House Down".
It sounds like exactly the kind of film I'd like, seeing as how Air Force One is one of my all-time favourite movies. The dodgy visual effects, as evident in the trailer, does seem a little worrying, but it's good to hear that it's solid fun on the whole. And yeah, it is a much cooler title than "White House Down".
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1:28AM on 03/21/2013
glad to hear it
glad to hear it
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