Beware of Spoilers below…
Action thrillers of the 90’s have largely escaped the room 101 of film-trocities we keep locked in the basement here at That Film Guy. Their vulgar ˜face-meets-fist’ ways were excused by audiences who at the time lusted for ripped defiant types with a can-do attitude and an endless supply of bullets and one liners…. fair enough I guess. Happily, Olympus Has Fallen directed by the great and terrible Antoine Fuqua (who also directed such classics as Shooter and King Arthur) is a good decade out of place and so has been unable to hide among its hideous friends.
Olympus Has Fallen focuses on ex-US Army Ranger Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) who is the agent in charge of the close protection team guarding the President of the United States, Benjamin Asher (Aaron Eckhart). During a tragic road accident Banning is forced by duty to save the President and pull him from his car, which is promptly cubed after it takes a nasty spill into a ravine carrying the President’s wife with it. Following the incident, Banning falls from the President’s favour and is placed behind a desk, far from his glamorous and meaningful former role. That is until one day when he gazes, bored out of his office window, to see the White House being assaulted by terrorists. He straps on a pair and rocks up on his tod intending to kick ass and take names.
Up to this point in Olympus Has Fallen I wasn’t too worried. Despite the ludicrous chain of events, the action scenes were gripping and the characters believable…. in the circumstances. Luckily, the film promptly implodes in a multitude of hilarious ways, showering the hungry viewer with lots of preposterous goodies. After fighting his way into the White House and realising he is the last agent standing against the terrorists, Banning acquires a phone, gives the emergency Chiefs of Staff (including Morgan Freeman) a ring and swears at them a bit. Unbelievably he is able to intimidate them into divulging highly classified material. As they cave so quickly to the random and unpleasant caller as a viewer you do wonder why the terrorists didn’t just prank call the US government from home and save themselves a trip.
Banning is then tasked to save the day, so saunters around the White House stabbing every terrorist he meets in the brain. Seriously, that happens a lot. Pretty quickly Banning is torturing people and stabbing them for speaking in accents he doesn’t like while showing them their friend’s brains on is knife. Now worried about Banning’s mental health and decidedly on the side of the terrorists, the viewer is taken to the basement to watch the unnecessarily sinister terrorist leader Kang Yeonsak (Rick Yune) beat up a female Secretary of Defence Ruth McMillan (Melissa Leo) for important missile codes. In a display of ˜top gun’ acting, McMillan appears to lose her mind during her interrogation and from this point shuffles round the place like a zombie saying some really weird stuff. The terrorists then attempt to execute her at the White House doors but bungle it leaving her to wander off into the gardens… she is never seen again.
The scene then cuts from the President saying he’ll never give up his codes to the terrorists tapping the codes in and the President crying in the background. Finally, following the explosion of a chopper full of hooded hostages, Banning convinces the Chiefs of Staff, who strangely accept this as an end to events, that it may be the terrorists being tricky. He then goes down to the basement where he finds a handful of terrorists alive and kills the last of them with a classic knife-braining.
There is so much more to say about Olympus Has Fallen like the epic slow motion fall of the American flag and the extremely trusting nature of the Chiefs of Staff, not to mention their lack of surprise when Banning calls to say he’s done it all by himself but you’ll just have to watch the film to fully experience it. I loved every minute of it and look back fondly on the 120 minutes of my life I’ll never get back.