Olympus Has Fallen is the best Die Hard movie in years. Actually, scratch that, it’s one of the best action movies in years. It’s everything people want in an action flick, and then some. While it does cross the line into cliched territory at times, it stays serious and real enough to never trigger eye-rolling, but rather, keeps your adrenaline pumping from beginning to end.
Gerard Butler plays Mike Banning, the President’s (played by Aaron Eckhart) head of security, until a terrible tragedy hits on his watch and he is moved to a different area so the President doesn’t have to see his face, and be reminded of that heartbreaking memory.
First off, this is a genius way to start a story. This movie could’ve easily started right in the middle of the fray, but rather, they spent a good twenty-minutes setting up the characters and characterizing them in fun and unique ways so that when the crap hits the fan, the viewer is invested in these characters one-hundred percent.
Unlike many of the big-budget action movies, Banning is a relatable protagonist who’s a surprisingly in-depth character, and is a lot more three-dimensional than nearly every other action heroes in the last five or so years.
However, there’s not a whole lot about him that truly stands out, and other than a few well-time quips, he’s a very typical action hero, but one that’s thankfully more developed than normal. With that said, it’s great seeing Butler ditch the rom-coms and return to the action hero role that made him popular in the first place.
The entire cast is also impressive, with the three head-liners (Butler, Eckhart, and Freeman) all giving really good performances. The supporting cast, while not overly memorable, all do their job well, and really help build up Eckhart as President Asher and Rick Yune as the villainous Kang.
With all that said, Olympus Has Fallen is a true, old-school action-thriller, and that’s what it does best. The action scenes are brutal, fast-paced, and unrelenting; just like they should be. Butler is more than capable of holding his own in a fight scene, and thanks to some great choreography and not an over-reliance on shaky-cam, the action is as fun as could be and really makes the movie.
What makes all that even better, however, is the scenery itself. There’s nothing more chilling than seeing a Korean airship shooting up the streets of Washington D.C., or seeing foreign terrorists blow up half the White House and set the American Flag on fire. While some of the content could come off as offensive to some, this is a patriotic action movie at heart, and it’d be silly to think of it as anything other than that.
In fact, the villain of the movie, a North Korean extremist named Kang, is part of what makes Olympus Has Fallen so successful. While, once again, his very one-sided view on American and Korea could come across as off-putting to some, he’s a chilling and brutal antagonist who has just the right amount of cocky arrogance and violent tendencies. Once again, this is a movie meant to make you go “Go America!”, so it’d be just foolish to look at it any other way than that.
And the fact that Yune plays off Ackhart and Butler particularly well further adds to his character’s persona, and really makes him eat up the screen-time he’s given. In my opinion, he’s one of the best action flick baddies we’ve seen in a long, long time.
However, the movie does stray into cliched territory at times, and while it’s an incredibly realistic movie, there are aspects of it that push the boundaries a little bit. Nothing overly major, but enough to remind you that this is very much still a movie, and while it doesn’t hurt the film, it can occasionally take you out of the experience.
Also, some of the secondary characters, such as Banning’s wife, are briefly introduced and then forgotten about until the end, and I wish the ending had been a little different, so as to not feel so familiar. Overall though, Olympus Has Fallen keeps its footing throughout the movie’s two-hour running time, and doesn’t get boring even for a second.
I really, really liked Olympus Has Fallen. It’s everything an action movie should be, and if you’ve been disappointed by any recent action movies, go check out this movie. It almost makes you forget about all the terrible bore fests we’ve had to put up with in recent times, and gives hope that ‘true’ action films are far from dead.