You almost feel a little bit naughty for liking this film. It has every cliché in the book… the patriotic drum rolls when an image of the white house is shown in full glory, the American flag falling solemnly to the ground when the take over is complete, and the words “God Bless America” that are used perhaps more times than a skeptical British audience cares to hear. However, Olympus has Fallen is a very enjoyable film. Even though its made by the director of Training Day, Antoine Fuqua, it is no Training Day (there is no Denzel for starters…) but rom-com hero come face stabber Gerard Butler steps up to the plate as disgraced Presidential Guard Mike Banning pretty well.
The story follows the former Head of Security, eighteen months after he fails to save President Asher’s (Aaron Eckhart) wife from falling to her death following a freak snow accident en route back from Camp David. He is now working a desk job at the State Treasury so to not remind the President of that fateful night. There is unrest in Korea and the South Korean President comes to the White House to find a solution. This is when the take down begins. A full blown storm on the White House occurs and it seems that the FBI, Navy Seals and Homeland security have are facing more danger than they ever could have imagined, so its down to one man to get the President and his son out of the White House alive.
Butler has been known in the last few years to take the easy money route with his career, rom-coms like Playing for Keeps and P.S. I Love You have been a strategic way of keeping the actor both funded and in the forefront of Hollywood’s minds (on screen at least). We can be forgiven for momentarily forgetting that he actually played King Leonidis in the brutal graphic novel 300, but its good to see him back on form here. Apart from a few dodgy accent slips, it’s easy to see him as a high profile security guard who has a charismatic relationship with both the President and his son. He brings an everyman quality to this performance which makes him more accepting in this role, clearly knowing his place as to when to be friend and when to serve. Its easy to follow Butler as the central character here, his action moves are not unexpected, you feel he knows when he’s delivering a cheesy line and you even on occasion get a little glimmer appear in his eyes which tells the audience that although he shouldn’t, he’s definitely laughing at this line with you.
Accompanying him in supporting roles are Angela Bassett (Secret Service Director Lynn Jacobs) and Morgan Freeman (Speaker Trumbull). Having these two in this film I feel balances up the ridiculousness of some of the scenes and forces a sense of credibility into what we’re watching. Although understated, these two actors become an audience within the film, watching action themselves from the Pentagon, and making a few big decisions as and when necessary.
As the villain of the piece, Kang, Rick Yune is perfectly cast. Amidst all the chaos of the epic take over scene, the criminal mastermind is cool, calm and calculated. It’s almost sinister how relaxed he is, and you automatically think back to his Bond villain Zao in Die Another Day. You find yourself intrigued as to what happen will happen next with him, and a key highlight for me was his un-emotive reaction to Butlers proposed game of “Fuck Off.” As an actor, Yune really does play the ‘less is more’ card very well.
Overall, the film is a combination of cheese, violence (in parts verging on ultra-violence) and an almost worrying example of the most protected building in the world being overtaken by terrorists. Despite its terrible title and slight lack of gravitas to make it a classic action flick, its really worth a watch, the fight scenes are exciting, you almost fear for your own safety a little when the take over begins, and apart from a few dodgy lines Olympus has fallen makes for an engaging and solid watch – definitely one for the boys though.