Review of Olympus Has Fallen

Tensions are currently high with North Korea, so it’s hardly surprising that Hollywood has played on those fears with a movie. Olympus Has Fallen presents a unique view of what would happen if terrorists managed to take over the White House. A number of people have compared this movie with Red Dawn. Although the two movies do feature foreign invaders, the plots are completely different and I would say that Olympus Has Fallen is definitely more compelling. It draws you in. However, in order for either movie to work, you have to be willing to suspend a bit of critical thinking and allow yourself to be entertained. Both movies are pure fantasy.

In Olympus Has Fallen, a former US Army Ranger, Mike Banning (played by Gerard Butler) faces off against a North Korean terrorist, Kang Yeonsak (played by Rick Yune). Kang has managed to take the President, Benjamin Asher (played by Aaron Eckhart) hostage, along with a number of members of his staff. They’re actually in the presidential bunker in the White House.  I’ll leave it to you to discover just how this happens. The two characters face off against each other in an extremely calculated manner—there are no cheap shots in this movie. I think that it’s the way the two men seem to think through absolutely every move that makes this movie so good. The two are chess masters in a dangerous game of life and death.

Kang is trying his best to get the self-destruct codes for the country’s nuclear weapons arsenal from the President and plans to use his son, Connor Asher (played by Finley Jacobsen), as the means to do it. Meanwhile, an ineffective Speaker of the House, Allan Trumbull (played by Morgan Freeman), hopes that Mike Banning will rescue the president and set things right. Trumbull really is ineffectual and portrays a calm desire to let Banning do all of the heavy lifting despite the insistence of nearly everyone else that Banning isn’t up to the task (it’s the people who vote for Banning that make the movie interesting). There is a dynamic between the various actors that provides nearly constant tension throughout the movie. Finley Jacobsen also manages to add a cute factor that endears him to the audience.

While this movie isn’t even a little realistic, it’s extremely entertaining. Riveting would be a better word for it. I noted that my wife actually sat on the edge of her seat throughout most of the movie. Any movie can rely on special effects to provide entertainment value and there are some special effects in this movie, but it goes much further. The acting is great, the plot is good, and there is nearly constant non-repetitive action. The varied action is a strong point in this movie (so many action movies repeat the same actions over and over again).

There are a few down sides to the movie. It could have been made a little more realistic without denting the movie’s entertainment value. Morgan Freeman does play the part of an ineffectual Speaker of the House well, but to the point of being inept. The role could have been spiced up a little without any problem. There is also an incredibly large plot hole in the movie that should have been addressed (just how did the terrorists manage to secure all of those US weapons, especially the plane). Even so, Olympus Has Fallen makes for great viewing.