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There’s nothing particularly awful about Antoine Fuqua‘s Olympus Has Fallen, mainly because it does what it’s supposed to do. It’s a very loud, action-packed thriller that never relieves you of the constant tension built in the narrative. But at the same time the wow factor leaves the film shortly after the half hour mark and leaves you antsy for more, which is never delivered.

The Players:

  • Director: Antoine Fuqua
  • Writer(s): Creighton Rothenberger, Katrin Benedikt
  • Cast: Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Morgan Freeman, Melissa Leo, Angela Bassett, Rick Yune, Dylan McDermott, Finley Jacobsen
  • Cinematography: Conrad W. Hall
  • Original Music By: Trevor Morris

The Plot:

The president (Eckhart) meets with a Korean delegate at the White House. Within a matter of minutes the White House is attacked by an army of goons, headed by a merciless terrorist (Yune) determined to make the entire nation bend at his will. One thing standing in his way is Mike (Butler), a former Secret Service agent to the president that will do whatever it takes in order to protect our nation’s leader from these terrorists.

The Good:

  • Action Galore: You can’t say that there isn’t any action in the film. Within the first fifteen minutes you’re absolutely pummeled with action left and right. The most impressive action comes early on with the takeover of the White House that spreads into the streets of Washington D.C. Even the hand-to-hand fights that happen later on in the movie are still pretty solid, giving the audience the right amount of carnage in order to satisfy their craving for action.
  • The Ongoing Threat: Fuqua continues to keep the rapid dramatic pace in Olympus Has Fallen, which mainly accounts for why the film doesn’t bore you to death. The audience is strung along as all of our heroes strive to keep the nation safe even as they’re tortured into giving out information to the enemy. Fuqua and company knows how to keep the suspense going and it never lets up, not once, and through that it keeps your attention.
  • Barely Cracking A Smile: Olympus Has Fallen could have gone two ways. We could have seen a slightly campier, lighthearted but still action-packed version of this or keeping the picture as straight-faced as possible. Thankfully they went with the latter which in some ways does work to their advantage. There are the obvious comparisons that Olympus Has Fallen will automatically get because structurally, it is like Die Hard in the White House, but this movie doesn’t really contain the snarky humor that’s found in there. Some folks may find it boring that they didn’t go that route, but in actuality it’s rather refreshing to see them staying in serious mode. Butler gets a couple of small wise cracks in there, but that’s just a couple of lines sprinkled within the entire film.

The Decent:

  • Our Characters: The first fifteen minutes of the picture introduce us to a majority of the characters that we’ll be seeing pop up on screen for the remainder of the movie. It’s just too bad that there’s little development when it comes to most of the characters outside of Mike (Butler) which is replaced with action and the tension over our main problem. At least he cast does their best with what little material they have to use.
  • Don’t Forget Our Hero: There are several instances where you’re being slammed with so much information that you realize the movie  forgets where our main hero is at times. Throughout the second act he bobs in and out of the picture as if the screenwriter almost forgot him amidst the bullet storm that’s happening outside the White House.
  • We Know You Saw Die Hard And It’s Okay: Sometimes an older successful movie gives a person inspiration to move forward with their own script. In this case the writer decided to take the skeletal structure of Die Hard and lay it on top of Olympus Has Fallen. Between the main hero who’s trying to mend a marriage, a helicopter rooftop scene, and a standoff with retrieving the main hostage, it’s there. It’s not bad, but we wish it wasn’t so obvious.

The Bad:

  • The VFX: Whoever said that the visual effects were done should have been suspended from their job. One of the most painfully obvious bad points in this film is the visual effects. They have that unfinished, smooth look you’d see in computer graphics found in shows released in the early 2000s. That’s just sloppy.
  • Simmering Down: Towards the climatic third act it’s hard not to lose interest in how everything is going to end. The terrorists are able to find out a secret code without the aide of any hostages, which defeats the whole purpose of keeping some of them around in the first place. The picture also blows their biggest action scene right in the beginning and is not able to measure up to it throughout the remainder of the film. By the time we get to the climatic showdown, there’s no gas left in the tank. The ending is obvious, so why not speed things up?

Overall:

There’s nothing particularly bad about Olympus Has Fallen but there isn’t too much good that makes it standout as an action film. It serves it’s purpose and exists in the movie world as an action flick, which is all it really needs to do.

Rating: 5.5/10

Olympus Has Fallen is out in theaters now.

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