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Olympus Has Fallen (2013), making up for A Good Day to Die Hard one dead North Korean terrorist at a time

April 1, 2013

MY CALL:  Behold the unbelievable scenario of Gerard Butler versus like 60 North Korean black ops terrorists and Butler wins.  A satisfying movie for guys who like movies with explosions, throat punches, machine guns and knife fights.  It’s like one super-long action sequence.  [B]  IF YOU LIKE THIS WATCHDie Hard (1988), Taken (2007) and Live Free or Die Hard (2008).  WHITE HOUSE SIDEBAR: This is one of three movies this year involving terrorists taking the White House.  Odd trend, huh?  The other two are G. I. Joe: Retaliation and, nearly a clone of this movie, White House Down.

Agent Mike Banning (Gerard Butler; Machine Gun Preacher, Gamer) was transferred from the Secret Service after an accident resulted in the death of President Asher’s (Aaron Eckhart; The Rum Diary, Battle Los Angeles) wife.  He’s bored of his new desk job and misses being by his friend the president’s side.  But the president cannot bear the memory of his wife’s death.

During a meeting in the White House, the South Korean Prime Minister’s chief of security Kang  goes rogue.  He is actually a long dark-ops North Korean terrorist with sinister plans for the United States. Rick Yune (The Man with the Iron Fists, Ninja Assassin) really owns the role of Kang and his “no foolin’ around” hard line of terrorism.  He also dresses well.

Kang’s White House takeover gives audiences a lot of continuous, intense action.  There are suicide bombers, huge guns, rapid fire guns, a kamikaze air assault, missile strikes, missile decoys, smoke bombs, explosions, creative road blocks, terrorists in tourists’ clothing and insider double-crosses–it drew a lot of laughs, smiles and “ooohs” from the action movie fans in the audience.  The White House lawn was painted red as somehow Banning snuck his way into the White House before Kang’s men had complete control.

Banning goes guerilla, utilizing the Korean terrorists’ gear.

Making his entrance, Banning watched in horror as secret service agents, responding to the sound of loads of gunfire, recklessly ran out into the open through the front door and were mowed down by Gatling guns.  For the sake of an impressive body count, the writers seemed to have decided that secret service men an White House security details are rather poorly trained and have no concept of using cover or evasive maneuvers when under fire.  This was a blaring flaw and it came with a lot of “OMG, REALLY!?!”  But it also made it fun.

With the president and vice president held hostage, House Speaker Turnbull (Morgan Freeman; The Dark Knight Rises, Conan the Barbarian) assumes the pressures of acting president.  As Turnbull weighs Kang’s threats with global security, Banning starts wading his way through the White House halls and BRUTALLY picking off Kang’s elite trained operatives.  The hand-to-hand combat isn’t quite what I’d prefer, filmed very close up, sometimes shaky, and with choppy one-cut-per-move editing.  But hey, this isn’t a martial arts movie.  It’s a series of super-long action sequences kind of movie.  And the hard hitting action sequences are quite pleasing to this action junkie!

Supporting actors include Angela Bassett (This Means War, Green Lantern) as Banning’s boss, Melissa Leo (The Fighter, Conviction) and Radha Mitchell (Silent Hill Revelation, The Crazies) as Banning’s wife.  Everyone did a fine job.  My biggest complaint wouldn’t be the acting, but the writing in the early scenes when we have the president’s happy family routine shoved down our throats.  Too many rainbows and not enough “real.”  But, again, this movie is largely a continuous IV drip of action.  So I’ll let it slide.

Director Antoine Fuqua (Shooter, King Arthur, Training Day) must have anticipated how bad A Good Day to Die Hard was going to be and decided to give us “Die Hard in the White House” starring Gerard Butler to make up for it.  In fact, this movie was stunningly similar to the awesomely epic Live Free or Die Hard.  Let me count the ways…  1) The calm, cool, collected Kang looked so sleek in his vest outfit, not unlike the dashing and dapper, cardiganed Timothy Olyphant.  2) Like the Maggie Q to Olyphant, Kang also had a tough Asian computer whiz at his side.  3)  Like Willis’ John MacClane, Butler takes a beating in this movie and his bruises and blood don’t magically disappear between scenes as he takes a lot of punishment.  4) Like MacClane in Die Hard, Banning is the only line of communication with the outside, it takes a while for Kang to realize he’s even there, Kang and Banning exchange some smack talk, a bad guy pretends to be a good guy to try to kill Banning, and when the acting president and his panel don’t listen to Banning bad stuff happens.  5) Banning and his wife are having some problems–classic MacClane!  Basically, this movie was Die Hard with a North Korean Timothy Olyphant and Maggie Q in the White House.

Spoiler Alert!  Butler saves the day.

Is this a bad thing?  Hell, no!  I enjoyed it.  It was a fun.  Although it was loaded with faults, the faults sort of contributed to the fun.

12 Comments leave one →
  1. April 1, 2013 10:38 am

    The weight of what’s happening does make itself noticeable mainly because of how much the destruction of the terrorists plan is going to affect America and I actually did like that part of the film. But this movie isn’t meant to be taken seriously, it’s meant to allow you to have fun and let that be it. Good review John.

    • johnleavengood permalink
      April 1, 2013 12:26 pm

      Thanks for the comment, CMrok93.
      I view this as an 80s-90s style action movie plot with today’s proclivities for elaborate, heavy, hard-hitting action sequences. Not unlike The Expendables movies. Love the action, try to forget the plot.

      • April 1, 2013 9:08 pm

        I think the secret service agents from Clear and Present Danger and In the line of Fire would be annoyed.

  2. johnleavengood permalink
    April 2, 2013 7:06 am

    LOL. I think anyone with any form of combat training would be annoyed. That is, unless, there guys who like movies with high explosives, high body counts, and high brow MacCalne-esque quips.


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