Olympus Has Fallen (2013)

Pure thrills in action sequences, strong cinematography, & serviceable performances by its Eckhart/Freeman-led cast but unnecessarily civilian casualty-heavy/violent, OHF is White House Down – but better in most ways. 6/10.

The unthinkable happens when heavily armed and highly trained terrorists launch a bold daytime attack on the White House. The building is overrun, and President Benjamin Asher (Aaron Eckhart) and his staff are taken hostage. Luckily for Asher, former presidential security officer Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) is on the scene. With time running out, it’s up to Banning to locate Asher’s son before the extremists do and rescue the president before his captors unleash their ultimate plan.

*Possible spoilers ahead*

Review: Pure thrills in action sequences, strong cinematography, & serviceable performances by its Eckhart/Freeman-led cast lift Olympus Has Fallen as the best WH-takedown action-thriller to date. From its emotionally-heavy, visually-stunning opening Camp David sequence shot amongst snowy, wintery night pines to the top-notch CGI/FX only mountains of money can buy alongside classically-composed cinematography with inventive framings, the film delivers a feast for the eyes stronger than most action movies it’s alongside especially. The cast is weathered and performances strong all-around, centered by unbelievably-badass Gerard Butler leading, absolutely incredible villain performance amongst the most refined and chilling I’ve seen in a thriller in many-a-year in Rick Yune’s Kang, and support from the likes of Aaron Eckhart (of TDK fame), Freeman, Bassett, Forster, and others. Kang’s mission/motivations are well-written, believable in screenplay, and expertly executed with surgical precision and an impressive-yet-horrifying, ultra-dark manner taking down the most fortified and heavily-guarded building likely in the world. The tone is just-right for a subject this serious, one of my biggest gripes with the almost same-concept White House Down too-comedic and blown away by this in almost every conceivable way and just feels much higher-pedigree. It does have some serious flaws, the biggest of which being its near-pathological penchant for intense unnecessary civilian carnage. I mean, having a gunship gun down thousands of innocent unsuspecting pedstrians having nothing to do with the White House or plot is pretty hard to watch and head-scratchingly unncessary to the plot – seriously, we’re forced to watch literal hordes of people die in brutal ways; what was Fuqua thinking harping on this so much – and easily unforgiveable to anyone who decided to walk out at the display of gore and disregard for human life here (got close mystelf). Abhorrent. Besides that, some of the side actors/resses are unbearably annoying like Melissa Lee’s Madam Secretary, and the final act is admittedly-full of clichés and a downright silly and ill-advised ending of Banning – after saving at least 36,000,000+ lives, the United States of America, and millions of Koreans plus world supply chains affected – gets.. nothing but his secret service job back?? At least give a medal of honor or highest award of the land to someone who saved everything – poor (lazy) writing discordant with the rest of the film’s higher quality. Despite these problems (and the concept starting to get heavily-worn at this point), Olympus Has Fallen is still a serviceable and entertaining action film amongst, if not *the* best White House-related thriller to date.

Overall Rating: 6/10