Olympus Has Fallen
Starring: Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Finley Jacobsen, Dylan McDermott, Rick Yune, Morgan Freeman, Angela Bassett, Melissa Leo, Radha Mitchell, Cole Hauser, Phil Austin, Ashley Judd, and more.
Directed by: Antoine Fuqua Written by: Creighton Rothenberger and Katrin Benedikt Cinematography by: Conrad W Hall Original Music by: Trevor Morris
Premise: Relegated to work at the Treasury Building after a tragic accident took the President's wife, Mike Banning finds himself rushing to the White House when an unauthorized plane makes it into the 'no fly zone' and starts shooting pedestrians, cars, and buildings, in the streets of Washington DC. When he gets there, he finds out the plane is not the only source of danger. With his intimate knowledge of the workings of the White House, he vows to do his duty and make sure the President is secured and the threat neutralized. (Rated R)
1) Acting - Total Thumbs Up: Gerard Butler gives a great performance as the highly efficient, yet emotionally burdened secret service agent Mike Banning. Aaron Eckhart showed us a strong, yet also vulnerable president, husband, and father. Morgan Freeman was his usual charismatic self, his portrayal of Trumbull a wonderful portrait of a man rising to the unexpected challenges thrust upon him by fate.
2) Special Effects - Total Thumbs Up: From tourist bus explosions to fifty caliber Gatling gun bullets perforating pedestrians, the special effects team did a great job. The scene where the plane clips the Washington Monument and the slow collapse of the upper part of the same building was amazing to watch. Throw in crashing planes, blown up helicopters, walls, doors, and more and you'll be very busy watching them all.
3) Plot/Story - Thumbs Up: The bit of back story at the beginning of the film did a lot to get the audience familiar with the principal characters and make the state of their relationships eighteen months later to become a part of the issues at hand, which was great.
Though I hope that US response to a similar situation would be faster and better implemented, the plan carried out by the antagonist was very clearly thought out and deftly executed. The progression from there as they worked on their specific goal while distracting everyone else by making them think they were after other things worked well.
The part that doesn't hold up under scrutiny is motivation. While Kang stated his reasons during the film, it still didn't explain the willingness of pretty much all of his people to throw away their lives on this gambit. People are wired with the instinct is to live - so to overcome it takes a lot. Yet nothing is shown to substantiate why they're able to summon such fortitude - especially the last group, who knew exactly what they were walking into. The traitor's motivation made little sense as well - especially for it only having been a year and a half since he'd left the service.
The worst of them, though was that though Kang seems to have a plan on how to escape, there's no way it would have worked with what was about to happen, so it made little sense he was even attempting it.
4) Stunts - Total Thumbs Up: The list of stunt people for this film was enormous! Between being mowed down by different weaponry and having to die in all manner of ways, there were also a lot of hand to hand fights, and gun battles. Sniper rifles, helicopters, all manner of guns, knives, and even super cool weapon systems got a turn. Blood splatter was kept to a minimum, which is probably a good thing. There were so many dead there would have been pools of it everywhere for people to slip on.
5) Locations/Cinematography - Total Thumbs Up: The White House did have a very short front lawn, which is no longer the case, but otherwise looked great. Some nice overhead shots of the White House as well as Washington DC before, during, and after the incident. A couple of scenes with added CGI for the American flag were quite poignant.
6) Costuming/Makeup - Total Thumbs Up: Great attention to detail. Wounds remained visually consistent, which always helps in maintaining the fantasy of the woven story in the film. When Asher is wounded, he really looked hurt. Melissa Leo also made a great canvas for the makeup department as she too, took her share of punishment.
Conclusion: If you don't look too deeply, "Olympus Has Fallen" is a fun, riveting, action flick. Patriotic 'heart strings' will be tugged. Great hand to hand and close quarter combat sequences.
Rating: 4 out of 5 (Hubby's Rating: Would Pay Full Price To See It Again)