Olympus Has Fallen Review

The Plot:

A disgraced secret service agent finds himself at the center of a terrorist takeover of the White House 18 months after he failed to save the First Lady during a freak car accident. With the FBI, Navy Seals and Homeland Security outgunned and outsmarted, the President and his young son are both taken hostage. Now one man is a nations only hope.

The Good:

Gerard Butler has been largely treading water for the past few years, in rom-coms like Playing for Keeps and P.S. I Love You. An easy way of keeping the actor well paid and consistently on screen. It’s been a while since his breakthrough performance as King Leonidis in the brutal graphic novel adaptation 300, but it’s good to see him back on form here as agent Mike Banning.

Apart from a few dodgy accent slips, it’s easy to see him as a high profile security guard who has a charismatic relationship with both the President and his son. He brings an everyman quality to this performance which makes him more convincing in the role. Butler is thankfully self-aware enough to recognize when he’s delivering a particularly cheesy line. A playful glimmer in his eyes let’s audience know he’s definitely in on the joke

Accompanying him in supporting roles are Angela Bassett (Secret Service Director Lynn Jacobs) and Morgan Freeman (Speaker Trumbull). Having actors of this understated caliber helps counterbalance the ridiculousness of some of the scenes and forces a sense of credibility into what we’re watching.

Rick Yune is perfectly cast  as the villain of the piece. Amidst all the chaos of the epic take over scene, the criminal mastermind is cool, calm and calculated. It’s almost sinister how relaxed he is, and you automatically think back to his Bond villain Zao in Die Another Day. You find yourself intrigued as to what happen will happen next with him. As an actor, Yune really does play the ‘less is more’ card very well.

The Bad:

Olympus Has Fallen is a guilty pleasure, unashamedly packed with patriotic cliché’s.  There’s far more American flag waving and triumphant exclamations of “God Bless America” than most international audience will appreciate. You almost feel a little bit naughty for enjoying the film in spite such obvious flaws. However, Olympus has Fallen is still a very enjoyable film.

Director Antoine Fuqua is best known for gritty police drama Training Day. That film proved to be an Oscar winning vehicle for Denzel Washington. Fans misguidedly expecting anything similar from Olympus Has Fallen will obviously be left disappointed, alhough Fuqua does certainly tackle the new action genre with uninhibited and violent enthusiasm.

The Ugly Truth:

Overall, the film is a combination of cheese, violence (in parts verging on ultra-violence) and an almost worrying example of the most protected building in the world being overtaken by terrorists. Despite lacking some of the gravitas of a classic action flick, it’s really worth a watch. The fight scenes are exciting and you almost fear for your own safety a little when the terrorist takeover begins. Apart from a few dodgy lines Olympus Has Fallen makes for an engaging and solid watch – definitely one for the boys though.

Red Carpet Video Interviews below with stars Gerard Butler & Aaron Eckhart and the European premiere in London:

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