American action movies have been making a steady decline since the hay days of the 1980s. Once dominated by names like Stallone, Schwarzenegger, and Willis the action genre has been taken over by movies like The Raid from Indonesia. While there have been some attempts to reclaim the title as of late (The Expendables and A Good Day to Die Hard) nothing has quite recaptured that good ole American ridiculous action feeling, until now. While not a movie that will make it on my top movies of the year, Olympus Has Fallen, is a fantastic fun ride that delivers. Recently, I reviewed A Good Day to Die Hard and I gave it two ratings; one normal and one "meathead." While A Good Day to Die Hard is complete brain dead fun, Olympus Has Fallen tries to say more...just barely.
When the movie opens we get a view of a fluttering American flag, and it sets the tone for exactly what you would expect...jingoism to the nth degree. While not being so pro-American that its obnoxious but just the right amount to make you cheer ever so quietly when the bad guys get a taste of Uncle Sam's boot.
We are immediately introduced to Mike Banning, the president's head of secret service and all around American hero played by Scottish import Gerard Butler. Quickly a strong bond is established between Banning and President Benjamin Asher (Aaron Eckhart) and the President's son Connor (Finley Jacobsen). The movie does a good job making these relationships feel as genuine as possible for a more powerful affect down the road.
Due to an accident on a snowy road at Camp David, Banning is forced to make some hard decisions that cause him to lose his valued position. Fast forward 18 months to present day and everything seems fine until the White House is put under siege by a para-military group who's intentions are not quite known until much later. This portion of the movie was slightly frustrating to me. I couldn't help but have a problem with how easy it was to take down the White House. Then I thought about what I was watching and just let those logical thoughts slip away. Once I got passed the over the top manner in which the siege sequence was happening I could really enjoy the action of it all. One thing this movie isn't short of is violence and action. From the raining of bullets on Washington D.C. citizens to the military precision by which people are shot in the head the movie barely slows down. Seemingly the only slow ups are when the U.S. government is trying to decide what to do next. They are of course led by none other than Speaker of the House Allan Trumbull (Morgan Freeman), who becomes President during these dire times.
The villains of this movie are cold and calculating and you never know quite what they will do next. Many times I found myself assuming who would or would not be killed; I was wrong a few times. Bluffing wasn't really a desired tactic used by these folks. A very unexpected surprise. In the end the good guy wins and the bad guys lose, but none of that is unexpected.
All in all, the movie is just a plane crashing, head shooting, knife fighting, and one liner spewing good time. If I had to compare it to another genre film I would say Die Hard with a Vengeance. While not a stellar film by any accounts the movie does just what it sets out to do...entertain and make you happy about being American again. There are moments were the movie tries to send a message about what is great about America and pull at those jingoistic heart strings. It doesn't completely fail in this, but I wouldn't call it a success either. Sadly there were no truly quotable moments in the movie in the style of Willis, Schwarzenegger, or Stallone. However, at the end of day Gerard Butler's Olympus Has Fallen could easily be dropped into the 1980s action movie decade successfully with ease.
[easyreview title= "Review of Olympus Has Fallen" cat1title="Jay's Rating" cat1detail="Overall Review" cat1rating="3.0" overall= false]