When it comes to action films, it’s been a rather disappointing year. Films like Parker, The Last Stand and Bullet to the Head definitely provided entertainment to their audiences but never gave them reasons to care about anything going on and ultimately became forgettable. Other films like Gangster Squad and A Good Day to Die Hard had major hype surrounding them but ultimately disappointed audiences. Having been so letdown by this year’s action films, I’d like to think that I was rightfully apprehensive about Olympus Has Fallen after watching its trailer in February, though having Antione Fuqua (Training Day and Shooter) behind the camera as director certainly stirred up some early excitement. Though Olympus Has Fallen does do many thing wrong, it succeeds in being a very fun, campy action movie that is thoroughly enjoyable.
Olympus Has Fallen follows the story of Mike Banning (Gerard Butler), a Secret Service agent assigned to Presidential Detail. After a tragic accident, he is demoted and assigned to desk duty. When a terrorist captures the White House and the President (Aaron Eckhart) is held hostage, the United States must rely on Banning to save the President, retake the White House, and avert an even bigger crisis.
One of the major aspects of this film that really works is the acting. Butler delivers a fine performance as the sarcastic guy who will do anything to protect his country and he should definitely stick to playing an action hero (no more Playing for Keeps!). Morgan Freeman and Aaron Eckhart both do a decent job portraying their governmental roles and Finley Jacobsen, the kid who plays the President’s son, is surprisingly not annoying, which is a real change of pace from the many other child actors in action films today. The film was pretty self-aware, which worked in its favor. It knew it was nothing more than a mindless action film, and rather than trying to convince you otherwise, it grabbed you by the hand and took you along its journey of badass action scenes, sometimes comedic dialogue, and propaganda that will have you feeling patriotic as the credits roll.
Unfortunately, this film suffers some major mistakes that hold it back severely. The special effects are so horrendous that they actually distracted my eyes from the movie. While this film didn’t have the budget of something like Avatar or The Avengers, with $130 million at your disposal I expect visuals that don’t look like they were done in 2004. There’s also a bunch of inconsistencies in the plot that are jarring. While I stated before that the film is self aware and realizes that it’s not going to deliver anything spectacular in story or character development, there are parts in this film where characters contradict themselves left and right and it sucked me right out of the movie in some instances.
If you can go into a theater and turn your brain off, you will enjoy yourself for the two hours while watching this. It’s a simple action film; it knows exactly what it is and doesn’t try to be anything else. And yet, horrid special effects and a very inconsistent plot bog the film down and keep it from becoming a fantastic Die Hard-like B-movie. Honestly, if you have $6 or $7 and two hours to waste, you won’t be upset spending your money here. It’s a cheesy action flick, so grab a bucket of popcorn and enjoy.
Review by Nick Franco