Plot summary (from the studio): When the White House (Secret Service Code: “Olympus”) is captured by a terrorist mastermind and the President is kidnapped, disgraced former Presidential guard Mike Banning finds himself trapped within the building. As our national security team scrambles to respond, they are forced to rely on Banning’s inside knowledge to help retake the White House, save the President and avert an even bigger crisis.
Warning: Spoilers below!
- The pacing was pretty good here. I was worried that the filmmakers wouldn’t be able to sustain the action for two whole hours without some distinct lulls, but boredom wasn’t really an issue here.
- Gerard Butler was believable as an action hero. I know he already had the lead in a major action flick prior to this (300), but I haven’t seen that film. I’ve only seen him in romantic comedies like P.S. I Love You and The Bounty Hunter, so I was a bit skeptical about his ability to carry something like Olympus Has Fallen. He was just fine here.
- I enjoyed Mike’s relationship with First Kid Connor. Usually young kids in action films annoy me because they’re portrayed as way too intelligent/precocious for their age. Again, this was not an issue here.
- I liked that the terrorists actually killed people in this movie. I’m not a proponent of gratuitous violence or anything like that, but it was refreshing to see the bad guys actually follow through on their threats (or, as was the case in this movie, simply act without threats) instead of stalling and giving the good guys ample time for a rescue mission.
- The filmmakers didn’t do a very good job of making it clear that the bad guys got the third Cerberus code by cracking it from the first two codes. The whole time the President was saying, “They’ll never get my code!” and then suddenly Kang has all three numbers with zero explanation at all. It was only from a throwaway line a couple of scenes later that we learn how the code was obtained.
- The slow response time of the military backup bothered me. I don’t know how much of that was based on reality, but I find it hard to believe that our Army wouldn’t be all over a White House breach in about 2 minutes flat. What was that crap about 15 minutes? No way! (Yes, I realize there are a ton of “No way!” moments in this movie, but this is the one that bothered me the most.)
- Mike had at least 3 or 4 guns stashed in his belt and various other places on his body, yet he gets into two hand-to-hand fights (with Forbes and Kang) and doesn’t even try reaching for a weapon even though the other guys had knives? I kept thinking to myself, “Dude, just pull your gun like that one scene in Indiana Jones!” WTF?
- Why would Mike still have top security clearance at the White House a full 18 months after being reassigned? I could accept this kind of oversight if the action were taking place, say, 18 days after the First Lady’s death. But 18 months?? There’s no way someone forgot to revoke his clearance!
- I doubt that the acting president (Morgan Freeman) would have pulled the Seventh Fleet and risked a major war in the Koreas just to save Aaron Eckhart’s ass. The U.S. has a policy of not negotiating with terrorists, right? If the situation came down to the wire like that and all reasonable rescue attempts had failed, wouldn’t they just sacrifice the President (one person) for the greater good???
Honestly, with a movie like Olympus Has Fallen, I was just hoping to be entertained for a couple of hours. I go into these kinds of films fully expecting unbelievable action sequences, plenty of “yeah, right” moments, and a plot that barely hangs together by a thread, so nothing here surprised me. The bottom line here is that this movie does have some value as a popcorn flick, so I’m not disappointed at having spent $3.99 to rent it. I give it 3 stars out of 5.