Olympus has Fallen is more than a routine action genre movie outing. Director, Antoine Fuqua, does a superb job of orchestrating his cast from the personal confrontations to the plot’s cliffhanger precipice. The story surrounds a very topical assault on American soil by a North Korean militant rebellion force. Their target is to acquire the President in the White House and the American secret service seems to simply capitulate in their path.
Rewind the clock and we are introduced early on to top Secret Service agent and Presidential bodyguard, Mike Banning played by Gerard Butler. The Machine Gun Preacher has taken his gruff Scottish he-man and put the persona in a suit with an earpiece. We see some relevant backstory when Banning makes a call that sees a key character die and the President’s reaction as he arranges for Banning to be out of sight and out of mind. The timing couldn’t be worse as our Terrorist forces were hit with a war-like impact led by Kang to capture the President and key government members in the bunker of the White House. You may remember Kang played by Rick Yune from his role as the villain’s key 2nd in command in Die Another Day. This time he delivers a more commanding confident performance that should set him up for more roles in the future.
Butler is a superb ‘man against the world’ actor in a role that is reminiscent of John McClane only more believable. The violence of the movie is incessant and not for the faint of heart as first, the North Korean forces make their attack on the White House taking down American civilians in a blatant display of disruptive power. Next, the movie kicks down a gear in the dimensions of action but steps up the intensity as Banning goes one on one with anyone untrustworthy.
The focus of our story is President Asher played by Aaron Eckhart. I’d vote for this guy on ‘chin’ presence alone! I’m seriously surprised he hasn’t had any superhero roles. Eckhart plays the diplomat, the staunch leader and the vulnerable family man in a great combination role.
Against the backdrop, we have a US government trying to regain control of a situation that could bring nuclear consequences to the world. The Speaker of the House played by Morgan Freeman keeps the military in check while Angela Bassett heads up the Secret Service and keeps the lines of communication going with Banning on the inside.
It’s a great formulaic action movie with a plot we’ve seen before but not with as great a commitment to the fine-tuning of the whole movie experience. Kudos must go to Antoine Fuqua and Gerard Butler whose combined talent makes this a brilliant action genre movie that others should emulate.
Interesting that similar to another outing Fuqua had when he directed Mark Wahlberg in Shooter while another movie with a similar story was being created in the same year with Wesley Snipes. This time there is another terrorist in the White House movie coming up with Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx on board directed by Roland Emmerich and called White House Down. As always I recommend going first in any sport to set the bar high which Olympus Has Fallen has done. Let’s see what happens in round two.
3.5 out of 5 popcorns