8.0 out of 10 | Movie or DVD
Rated: R Language throughout and strong violence.
Release Date: March 22, 2013
Runtime: 2 hours 0 minutes
Director: Antoine Fuqua
Writers: Creighton Rottenberger, Katrin Benedikt
Cast: Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Finley Jacobsen, Dylan McDermott, Rick Yune, Morgan Freeman, Angela Bassett, Melissa Leo, Cole Hauser, Phil Austin
SYNOPSIS: Disgraced former Presidential guard Mike Banning finds himself trapped inside the White House in the wake of a terrorist attack; using his inside knowledge, Banning works with national security to rescue the President from his kidnappers.
REVIEW: Shooter and Brooklyn Finest director Antoine Fuqua, known for fine drama and action, raises the stakes with a presidential assault of the senses. Taking the fight to the White House are novice writers Katrin Benedikt and Creighton Rothenberger. Can Gerard Butler regain some of his action roots as a disgraced secret service agent?
Mike Banning (Gerard Butler, Playing for Keeps) is attached to United States President Benjamin Asher's (Aaron Ekhart, Battle: Los Angeles) Secret Service detail. While at Camp David with the First Lady Margaret (Ashley Judd, Dolphin Tale) and their young son Conner (Finley Jacobsen, Marmaduke), the First Family travels to a black tie holiday party. Enroute, an accident and a quick decision by Banning makes it impossible for him to continue on the Presidential detail for Asher. 18 months later Banning suffers at a desk job at the Treasury department with the perk of a commanding view of the White House. During a South Korean delegation visit to the White House, a massive airstrike and infantry incursion forces the President, Vice President Charlie Rodriguez (Phil Austin, The Final Destination), and Secretary of Defense Ruth McMillian (Melissa Leo, Flight) into a bunker under the White House. Now trapped as a hostage, Asher and his staff are forced to give up sensitive codes to an insulated system named Cerberus. When the security of the White House is completely breached only Mike Banning is still standing to try and save the day.
Gerard Butler, playing characters in a string of decent to good romantic comedies, returns to more action-packed role as former Secret Service agent Mike Banning. Not sinceGamer has Butler been in a film filled with so much fire power. The change of pace suits him. A cross between Steven Seagal's Under Siege hero Casey Ryback and Bruce Willis' Die Hard cop John McClane - and even one of a number of 1980s Chuck Norris flicks like Invasion USA or Delta Force - Gerard Butler seems to have the right stuff.
Director Antoine Fuqua and his writers set up a beautifully bloody first act. With military precision, the entire White House, called Olympus, falls quickly to the foreign aggressors. The body count and bullet count seems more appropriate in the beach landing at Normandy. The massacre is relentless and the tactics precise. Add in Gerard Butler's smoldering determination and some epic hand-to-hand fight choreography, and you have one heckuva ride.
The story is not perfect. Butler's Banning, and the bad guys, hunt down the President's son throughout the middle of the film. The subplot's outcome seems somewhat unnecessary - and trite. Also, some Presidential sparing in a boxing ring at Camp David never fully materializes. Like in Battle: Los Angeles, some characters are only developed enough to become sympathetic cannon fodder for the audience. And lastly, the threats concerning Banning's wife Leah (Radha Mitchell, Silent Hill: Revelations 3D) by the villain seems to only result in an unfulfilled afterthought.
Gerard steps up in his return to action, shaking off some of the romanticism of his last few roles. Cole Hauser (A Good Day to Die Hard) and Dylan McDermott (The Campaign) round out the higher profile Secret Service agents on Ashers original detail. Angela Bassett's (This Means War) Secret Service Director Lynn Jacobs keeps her stern exterior for the command center after the White House attack. Morgan Freeman (The Dark Knight Rises), as the Speaker of the House Trumbull, is both stunned into silence forced into action as acting President during the hostage crisis. And the villain who masterminds the entire operation brings a more than adequate foil to Gerard's Banning as he and his men and women crush the White House defenses and, possibly, America itself.
Olympus Has Fallen is one of those sleeper action flicks that makes you just want to be a gun toting red-blooded beer-drinking American. And none of that import beer! Lots of action, some snarky remarks, and a little bit of patriotic cheese from this flick may provide the action that you will enjoy.
Olympus Has Fallen is an amalgam of a myriad of patriotic action flicks we've seen in the past. But Gerard Butler, Antoine Fuqua, and the writing team do everything they needed to put an assault on the White House into a great viewable package.
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