Movie Review - Olympus Has Fallen

Gerard Butler (left) and Aaron Eckhart
as the President in "Olympus Has Fallen"
Among the Secret Service and possibly U.S. military, Olympus is the code name for the White House, which is in the center of Washington, DC. Yes, this movie is about the White House being invaded and taken over by Korean terrorists, but, no, it's not believable in any way. It's certainly more believable than the Korean invasion of Seattle in Red Dawn (2012), but that's a very low bar.

Directed by Antoine Fuqua, the movie revels in the destruction of the White House, getting to a point where it's half-blown in a way that's more pornographic than in Independence Day (1996). The movie also revels in the brutal and bloody murder of everybody around and inside the White House, and, for some reason, writers Creighton Rothenberger and Katrin Benedikt have made this thing all about its star Gerard Butler and his co-star Rick Yune killing people, killing people and nothing else. That in itself would be fine, if the deaths meant anything or held any kind of weight or if the filmmakers were braver about who died and when.

After the outlandish series of events that lead to the White House being taken, there is a plot thread that is similar to a plot thread in the TV series Homeland. In Homeland, an American traitor is able to get into the secret, underground bunker where he has access to the President and Vice President either to capture or kill them by way of a smoke screen brought on through a shooting in broad daylight.

Unlike Homeland, the American traitor in this film is not given a good enough motive for why he becomes a traitor. His motive certainly doesn't rise to the level of him going along with the total destruction of the United States and its populace, which is the villain's end-goal here. There's also a plot hole or information gap that makes no sense either.

Gerard Butler plays Mike Banning, a Secret Service agent who is in charge of protecting the President and his family. An accident leads to Banning getting taken off the President's detail, but when the Koreans attack, Banning jumps in to help out and he becomes the only one left to fight the terrorists who take the President and his cabinet hostage inside the White House.

Rick Yune plays Kang, the leadera of the Korean terrorists who want the United States destroyed. He's cold and he's vicious, and his plan is to gain control of Cerberus. Cerberus is a fail-safe that's supposed to run America's nuclear weapons and stop them if need be. There's a scene though where Banning asks what Cerberus is and Morgan Freeman who plays the Secretary of State and acting president has to explain it, but if Banning who's Secret Service doesn't know what Cerberus is, how does Kang?

In order to get control of Cerberus, three codes are needed. The President has one. Two people in the President's cabinet have the other two: the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Kang tortures those two people in order to get the codes. The Secretary and the Chairman are willing to sacrifice themselves in order to protect the country, but the President orders them to give up the codes. It's a noble thing to do, but each person who gives up the codes gets Kang closer to his goal and given how cold and callous and calculating Kang is, it's also stupid of the President to do so.

The movie depicts a bunch of innocent people on the DC streets get brutally and senselessly murdered in cold blood and with a lot of blood splatter. I suppose it's important to convey how ruthless and evil these villains are, but, as a movie, these deaths, as portrayed, are senseless and done so in a mindless, video game fashion. If the filmmakers were braver or bolder, the Secretary and Chairman would have been the ones brutally murdered and done so without giving up the codes or even as a way to get the codes because then their deaths would have meant something. Sadly, having them stay alive for as long as they do ultimately means nothing.

Two Stars out of Five.
Rated R for language and violence.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 59 mins.


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