Olympus Has Fallen review


Ger­ard But­ler is Mike Ban­ning, hot­shot secret ser­vice agent to Pres­id­ent Har­vey Dent. Like most agents who pro­tect the pres­id­ent, he has a little curly wire pok­ing out of his ear which he presses with his fin­ger to speak to other agents with curly wires poking out of their ears. When he’s not doing that, he’s enjoy­ing vaguely homo­erotic spar­ring matches in the president’s private ring. That’s box­ing ring.

Dur­ing a bliz­zard, the president’s limo crashes off a bridge. But­ler man­ages to save the pres­id­ent, but not the first lady, some woman called Ash­ley Judd. I think she was fam­ous once. But­ler blames him­self for her death, and decides he can’t pro­tect Pres­id­ent Har­vey Dent any more.

So he quits, and gets a desk job. But then the unthink­able hap­pens, and a bunch of North Koreans go and attack the bloody White House!

It’s here, that I would like to take pause, and dwell upon a ques­tion that I hope to have answered by the end of the review. That ques­tion is…

Does Mike Banning find redemption by violently stabbing North Koreans through the brain?

Credit where it’s due. The open­ing assault on the White House is a glor­i­ously taste­less epic of mass destruc­tion. Mem­bers of the pub­lic get torn to shreds by bul­lets. North Korean sui­cide bombers (is there even such a thing?) blow them­selves to shit in the name of supreme leader Kim Jong-un. Secret ser­vice agents fall to the floor like so many bowl­ing pins. North Koreans pull rocket launch­ers out of their pants and fire them straight through the White House’s front door.

Some of the CGI in that assault is ter­rible, prob­ably some of the worst I’ve seen. It’s like it’s being gen­er­ated on the fly, on a Dell PC, in a green­house, on a summer’s day, using a ten-year old graph­ics card, with a broken fan.

At some points, I was wait­ing for the tex­tures to pop in, before I realised I was watching a movie and not playing a videogame. Still, it’s trashy, it’s OTT, it’s insane, and it’s great fun (but it does make you think that maybe the secur­ity arrange­ments for the president’s house could do with bit of fine tuning).

After that, it’s all down­hill. The dir­ector, Ant­oine Fuqua, has blown his wad too early. Even though the idea of “Die Hard in the White House” seems like a great one, it’s cor­ridors and offices don’t really lend them­selves to invent­ive action set pieces. It’s no Nakatomi Plaza, and all the ver­tigo indu­cing threat that par­tic­u­lar sky­scraper represents.

The film devolves into a series of smal­ler, lacklustre skir­mishes, and dull-witted one liners. This leads to a final con­front­a­tion between But­ler and the bad guy (dia­mond face dude from the worst Bond movie ever) that looks like Fuqua was bored, and just wanted to get the film over and done with. Join the club!

So, back to my ques­tion from earlier…

Does Mike Banning find redemption by violently stabbing North Koreans through the brain?

The answer is… well, what do you think?