This movie is like a patriotic overload.
“Olympus Has Fallen” follows the story of a United States Secret Service named Mike Banning (Butler), who, after a terrible accident is demoted to a guard at the treasury department. Meanwhile, an attack is set in motion by a group of terrorists who capture the president, played by Eckhart, and take over the building creating a hostage situation.
Because the president and much of the cabinet is taken hostage, the speaker of the house, played by Morgan Freeman becomes acting president and the only one who manages to get inside to fight back is Banning.
The film very quickly develops into a “Die Hard” like scenario, and this was actually a good thing. In a way, this movie went really back to basics and felt like action movies from the 90s. There were many over the top moments, but nothing too terribly over the top. The story is for the most part predictable, yet it’s executed well enough to keep things interesting. Director Antoine Fuqua, who directed “Training Day,” really knows how to keep an audience engaged and on the edge of their seats.
The acting is another piece that takes the movie a step up a bit above most other action films. In that respect, it’s similar to “Air Force One,” which had a similar hostage situation and some heavy hitting actors. This is the same way with Aaron Eckhart and Morgan Freeman giving solid performances. Aaron Eckhart felt believable in the role as an elected official, channeling a bit of his role in “The Dark Knight” (without going insane mind you). And as for Morgan Freeman, the guy is just a natural, having already played a president before in “Deep Impact,” he knew exactly how to take on the role.
I also really was impressed with Butler, who is natural in these types of movies. He makes some good quips and witty remarks to the villains and delivers some good action moments. Actors like Butler are better when they are cast in these types of movies when they can thrive in action moments. I do have a gripe with the villains though, who in my view were just under characterized. Butler’s character also had a wife, but she was only in about 1.5 percent of the entire movie.
The action was done really well. It was gritty, in your face and made for some really solid entertainment value. The special effects in the movie weren’t the most top notch that I’ve ever seen, but they seemed to make do with what they had. I also liked the usage of secret passages and weapons that the White House was built with.
The film is by no means perfect, its flaws lie in the fact that it is of course predictable and the villains aren’t that great. However, all of the lead protagonists deliver what they need to deliver, the action is very entertaining and satisfying and Fuqua is able to capture the whole thing through the camera well enough to make a fine action picture. Easy 4 out of 5.