Reviews

Olympus Has Fallen

2

Mass murder at 1600

On the one hand, Antoine Fuqua’s Stateside hit is soul-sapping, jingoistic nonsense, an ultra-violent fireworks display that will play like a prophecy fulfilled for those prepping for doomsday.

On the other hand, it’s ludicrous enough to be (almost) enjoyed as an inky-black comedy. The prologue sets up our sad-sack protagonist, former secret-service agent Mike Banning (Gerard Butler).

We’re on a trip to Camp David, where the President (a hapless Aaron Eckhart) and his family encounter an icy road and careen off a bridge.

Banning manages to rescue the prez, but is unable to save the first lady (Ashley Judd).

Fast-forward 18 months, and the still-shaky Banning is working a desk job at the treasury department when North Korean terrorists, disguised as tourists, launch a full-scale attack on the White House, utilising an old US bomber equipped with Gatling guns and, inexplicably, some kind of space-age force field.

Once the dastardly interlopers get inside, the President and his staff are held hostage, beaten and/or executed one by one in an attempt to secure clearance codes that will detonate all of the States’ nuclear weapons, effectively wiping the country from existence.

Literally the only man keeping the US from utter and total destruction is the redoubtable Banning, the only man left alive to skulk around the White House and save the President.

With great economy and a surprisingly straight face, Olympus Has Fallen sets up this preposterous premise in just a few short scenes, allowing the Die Hard-in-the-White-House antics to flow freely.

The initial hostile takeover is a gobsmackingly OTT set-piece, a raw, bloody succession of exploding cars, shattering windows, zipping bullets and collateral damage galore. It’s every Bush-era conservative paranoid fantasy come to fire-belching life.

From there, Butler’s steel-jawed desk jockey simply channels John McClane with more brawn and less humour, trading in Bruce Willis’ cocky charm for brute force. Meanwhile, Fuqua (Training Day) offers few stylistic flourishes, but he does show an unflagging enthusiasm for setting off one incendiary device after another.

Luckily, in spite of  its relentlessly grim tone, proceedings turnso cartoonish that it becomes easy just to sit back and giggle when, for example, Butler outruns a helicopter…

Verdict:

An orgy of bloody explosions that’d be tough to endure if it weren’t so inadvertently self-parodic. If nothing else, it sets the daftness bar high for Roland Emmerich’s upcoming White House Down.

Film Details

User Reviews

    • Andy85

      Apr 12th 2013, 18:11

      'The initial hostile takeover is a gobsmackingly OTT set-piece, a raw, bloody succession of exploding cars, shattering windows, zipping bullets and collateral damage galore.' - This sounds amazing, proper switch your brain off / guilty pleasure type of film. You may want to up the star rating a notch or three as this film is clearly the perfect propaganda the media needs with the s**t hitting the fan in North Korea at the moment. Also turnso is a cool word, keep using it...

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    • Ali1748

      Apr 13th 2013, 14:09

      Yup I have a feeling once again TF's is a star short. From what I've heard this was what Die Hard 5 should have been.

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    • ash333

      Apr 16th 2013, 10:30

      Yeah, they're a star short I reckon.. Saw it last night and despite some clunky dialogue it's a blast from start to finish. OTT for sure, but it's a movie about North Korean terrorists taking over the White House so it'd be kind of weird if wasn't.. Loved it! The White House Down people must be sh*tting themselves

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    • markoho

      Apr 17th 2013, 11:26

      I have seen 2 preview screens this week, Oblivion and this film. I feel you have got both scores the wrong way around. This film is way better than 2 stars, apart from some poor dialogue and a small plot hole this is easily one of the best all out action films I have seen in a long time. On the basis that Die Hard 5 was awarded 2 stars, Oblivion 3 stars, Olympus has Fallen surely deserves 4. Oblivion is a terrible film - over indulgent and unoriginal.

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    • ANPCooper

      Apr 17th 2013, 18:02

      I cant help but feel this is all a bit harsh, yes it was OTT and the dialouge wasnt great but I came out satisfied I'd had my action fix for a while and thought Butler took on the action lead role admirably. It was only the 2010's version of Die Hard, Under Siege and countless others. You cant go into these type of film expecting great cinema but this was plenty entertaining. Oh and as for "inexplicably, some kind of space-age force field" they were anti-missile counter measure - flares fired from planes to distract heat seaking missles, readily available on modern war air craft: .h ttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Countermeasure

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    • quaneylfc

      Apr 19th 2013, 14:57

      i have been looking at reviews on this website for a number of years and i have seen a few that you have "harshed out" on, i think of cloud atlas, click, tron legacy and safe to name a few, oh' and not forgetting taken's ridiculously harsh 3 stars, well, its better than empire's i suppose. over the past number of years i feel that reviewers of both professional and user perspective have been getting harder and harder to please, i have seen more two star reviews this year than any other, and in some situations they changed my mind about seeing certain films in the cinema, not anymore, i find the thought of changing your opinion to match somebody else's stupid now, you have films like die hard, a film that deserved 5 stars and a film like the raid, which is just an exotic rehash with a different technique of dispatching bad guys in a confined space, enjoyable yes, but if Olympus has fallen got 2 stars thrown at it, by all means this should as well, that reminded me of seeing the 3 stars left for dredd, and the reviewer actually saying he was wrong on the empire podcast. as a whole Olympus has fallen was a die hard clone, yes, but it cloned it successfully, at least more successfully than any die hard sequel has ever done, for that reason most, it deserved more than 3 never mind 2, if you don't agree, I'll say that it deserved at least four stars for action to violence ratio alone, i have never seen a film with such an average budget to have so much violence, for this reason, it has quenched my action thirst for at least 10 years, till the next (IMO) successful die hard clone comes out.

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    • dasydas

      Apr 21st 2013, 22:34

      Not a 2 star film by a long way. Your review was lazy, cynical and ignorant. "An old US bomber" is a current inventory Hercules outfitted as a gunship or "spooky" as its known, the "space age force field" is a flare barrage designed to stop missiles and is, again, current inventory. Its a silly action movie that does what it says on the tin. If you giggled at the outrunning of the helicopter then I doubt your objectivity. I saw the film in spite of your review, as opposed to missing it because of it, and I am glad I did. Its hokum but then again that was to be expected. Also, thank goodness for a proper 15 rated action movie, not the soul destroying 12A rubbish we keep getting served up with.

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    • Igrayne

      Apr 23rd 2013, 21:18

      Funny how everyone who defended this film used the argument that it was supposed to be dumb and you are not meant to think, why bother going to see a film then just sit at home and blow bubbles? A load of silly propoganda gun ho America pish.

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    • dojj singh

      Apr 26th 2013, 11:56

      5

      Everyone who has seen this film has said to me that it's so great, Tony the Tiger should come out of retirement to tell everyone about it. So when I went to see it, I wasn't shocked at how "turn your brain off" good it was. I don't care if it makes no sense, I go the cinema to watch an "action" film, I expect there to be "action". Yeah so it's all "WOOO 'MERICA!!!!" and all "USA!!! USA!!! USA!!!" but, when you get down to it, no one really cares, it does what it says on the tin and is a GRRRRREAT movie :)

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    • jeffamania

      Apr 28th 2013, 12:04

      4

      I'm glad I saw this movie before reading the reviews. Its much better than the 2 stars. I admit its OTT but its gloriously OTT; a fun roller coaster pop corn movie with loads of fun action and at least one delightful twist at the end. So total film ...me thinks u need to come off your haughty artistic pretence :)

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    • baldeelox

      Jul 1st 2013, 7:27

      3

      This is a 3 star film easily...why is that when you guys are in on an exclusive preview or red carpet film its gets more stars than it should? This film which is straight summer popcorn and lest face it every american action film is political gung ho c**p but good c**p sometimes as this is. The OTT start was the best thing in it and surprised me so much i got into it. I was expecting something much tamer but this was nearly on the new Rambo's level. Die Hard 5 this should o been for sure. Matter of fact the 24 movie should o been this. To that end I dont even want to see White house down because it might make me throw up just from the chessy ads for it..This is straight up hardcore shoot em up stuff which lets face is exactly what would happen if somehow the white house did get raided. People in american would fly into washington with their guns too and be there in record time to defend their white house yet alobe a bunch of agents or a john mclane clone...seriously though sort your reviewers out they don't all have to go uni and talk alien do they?

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    • matthewbrady

      Sep 11th 2013, 21:47

      4

      This should have been die hard 5

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