Review: Olympus Has Fallen

A disgraced secret service agent. A U.S. President who is both a widower and single father. Strained relations with North Korea. The White House invaded. The President kidnapped. One lone hero survives. Welcome to Olympus Has Fallen.

If you want a no holds barred, explosive action thriller (the first of many for this coming summer) then look no further. Beginning with the unusual but functional premise of the White House being utterly gutted and almost destroyed by a hostile force, Antoine Fuqua’s film offers audiences 120 minutes of rollercoaster ride that will keep you on the edge of your seat from start to finish. It sounds like I’m using too many clichés, but in some ways Olympus Has Fallen is quite a clichéd film.

Almost like Die Hard set in the White House, this film does not really make any excuses about what it is. A lot of the time it is action, action, action! Yet mixed in and surrounding this, we see the elements of quite a human story too. From the journey of Gerard Butler’s central character Mike Banning, one-time premier President’s guard, likeable and successful guy who falls (following the tragic loss of the First Lady, played by Ashley Judd) to low-serving desk jockey who finds himself in the wrong, or the right, place at the right time. His relationship with Aaron Eckhart’s President Benjamin Asher is deeply rooted in friendship, and thus heartbreak, and thus eventual redemption and reconciliation.

Eckhart should, I feel, have a lot more recognition as an actor and bankable movie star than he apparently has. Ever the one to seemingly step out of the shadows, he is very much capable of mixing action and adventure with raw human emotion with often great effect.

Add to this the ever-wonderful Morgan Freeman (who also played a U.S President in his day in the film Deep Impact) as Speaker Allan Trumbull and this great cast is complete. What’s more, it is figures like Aaron Eckhart and Morgan Freeman who give an inescapable feel of quality and pedigree to a film that, without them, would be fighting and killing most of the time.

So yes, this probably won’t be winning that many Oscars, and may not be a future classic, or even in the grand scheme of things, that memorable after a year or so. Yet for sheer, unashamed, unabashed viewing pleasure, Olympus Has Fallen is certainly a wild ride indeed!

Sam Jackson

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