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Olympus Has Fallen - Film Review

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by Aaron McDonald (subscribe)
Love sharing my passion for cinema. Tastes tend toward mainstream with an occasional dabble in arthouse and classics. Follow me on Twitter @melbmovieguy.
Olympus Has Fallen
Olympus Has Fallen, movie poster

In a nut shell, Olympus Has Fallen is Die Hard at the White House. Gerard Butler is Secret Service agent Mike Banning, assigned to the protection detail for the First Family of the United States. Mike enjoys a privileged position, more like a close family friend than the necessary evil one could imagine the Secret Service are viewed as by those who require their special skills. Yet this perfect picture of family bliss is shattered by an auto accident (icy roads around Camp David coupled with fast cars makes for a bad mix), and Mike is cast off from the Presidential protection detail, not only due to his decisions made during the crisis (which were probably the best he could make under the circumstances) but also because, given the level of intimacy he achieved with the First Family, having him around after the tragedy would only serve as a constant reminder of their loss.

President and First Lady Asher
President and First Lady Asher share a moment, but...

A year after the tragedy, President Asher (Aaron Eckhart) is still in office, grieving his loss whilst getting on with the job of running the country, and Mike is working a desk job at the US treasury, although he still yearns for the good 'ol days of the Secret Service. This is a major cause of angst with his wife, Leah (Melbourne born Radha Mitchell), as his constant air of melancholy for what was but can never be again makes Mike detached from his current life, oblivious to the relationship he is neglecting. This sense of loss is exacerbated by the fact that he still keeps in touch with his former workmates, including Secret Service Director Jacobs (Angela Bassett); he feels like a man who has been cast out of paradise, and the friendships with those still on the President's security detail is a constant reminder.

However, this is definitely an action film, so not too much time is spent dwelling on the emotions of the characters. As a delegation from South Korea, including the Prime Minister, commences a visit to the White House, all hell breaks loose; a pitched battle takes place in the streets of Washington DC around the President's residence as a group of terrorists strive to take control of the stately old mansion, and take hostage every senior member of the administration they can get their hands on!

During the chaos, Mike makes his way from the treasury building to the White House, manages to fight his way inside, and becomes the lone wolf, thorn-in-the-side for the terror group; the one element they did not anticipate in their meticulous plan.

Agent Mike Banning (Gerard Butler)
The hero of the hour- Agent Mike Banning (Gerard Butler)

The film then takes on rather familiar elements: the group on the outside (Director Jacobs, various military top brass, and man in charge Speaker Trumbull, well played by prolific Morgan Freeman) trying to obtain information from their man on the inside, assist him to save the hostages, and thwart the terrorist's rather predictable plan; the hostages, trying to survive, whilst also attempting to resist the terrorists where practicable (notable amongst these is Melissa Leo as Secretary of Defence Ruth McMillan, willing to die for her country); the ever diminishing group of terrorists (led by Rick Yune as Kang, suitably inscrutable and cold blooded - I wouldn't want to play poker against him); and finally, the lone hero, who manages to take out the terrorists, save the hostages, and literally save the world as we know it!

All-in-all, an enjoyable film. The two hours pass very quickly, with director Antoine Fuqua moving the story along at a good pace. I also appreciated the local Australian content mixed in - I wonder if the film-makers did something similar for all the different foreign markets in which it was released?


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Why? Escapist action movie; just for fun!
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