Our first movie review for the site is now available to read! On the left hand side, we will have the female perspective review, and on the right we will have the male perspective review. The movie was rated an average of 6.75 between the two of us, with fairly close scores. Check out what we both thought of the movie after the jump!
One Girl’s Perspective:
Olympus Has Fallen is an explosive, destructive, shoot ’em up thrill ride that is predictable at times, unpredictable at others, and has several unbelievable moments and scenarios. Not unbelievable as in “Wow, that was amazing,” but as in that they did not seem realistic.
The movie starts off at Camp David, the Presidential retreat. President Asher, played by Aaron Eckhart (The Dark Knight, Battle: Los Angeles), the First Lady, and their son Connor are getting ready to go to a Christmas party. We can see that Secret Service Agent Mike Banning, played by Gerard Butler (300, Law Abiding Citizen) is close with the First Family. Unfortunately, tragedy strikes on this snowy night while the caravan is on its way to the party. The car carrying the President and First Lady slides through the guardrails of a bridge and Banning is only able to save the President before the car falls over the edge and kills the First Lady. I remember feeling like this scene was a little too overdramatic with the music to the point that it was distracting. But that might just be me.
Fast forward to 18 months later, and Banning is now working a desk job at the Department of the Treasury because it’s too painful for the President to have Banning around as a reminder of his wife’s death, for which he finds Banning partially responsible. Banning’s wife, Leah, played by Radha Mitchell (Man on Fire, Silent Hill), is a nurse at the local hospital. She doesn’t have a very significant role in the movie, but I have to mention the fact that she was sporting a topsy tail ponytail. Remember those, the inside out ponytails, and there was a commercial for the topsy tail tool back in the 90s? Are they trying to bring the topsy tail back?? Not sure how I feel about that. Anyway, so meanwhile, the President is meeting with the South Korean Prime Minister and his posse at the White House. Part of their security entourage includes former Secret Service Agent Forbes, played by Dylan McDermott (American Horror Story, The Practice), who we saw during the Christmas scene. He has since retired from the Secret Service and gone into private security.
While they’re getting all situated going to the Oval office for their meeting , all hell starts to break loose as a large plane flying over restricted air space shoots down two fighter jets that have warned it to redirect its course. The plane then goes on a shooting spree, shooting many innocent people on the streets of Washington, D.C. Banning looks out his office window and sees what’s going on, then rushes outside to help people. Finally we’re able to get more planes into the air to bring down the huge attacking plane, but not before it takes out a huge chunk of the Washington Monument. This scene made me feel a little uneasy and disbelieving about the protection of our nation’s Capitol. Really, that’s all that happens when someone approaches restricted air space, two jets wait until the last minute to give it a warning, which by then it’s too late anyway if the plane has bad intentions, and then it takes forever to get anyone else back in the air to take down the enemy aircraft?
The President gets word of the attack, and the Secret Service acts quickly to take him down to the secret bunker below the White House. As they start to whisk him away, he insists on bringing the South Korean entourage with them, even though it’s not protocol. Moral of this story: Always follow protocol. More on that later. So the White House is under attack by suicide bombers, one of which Banning is able to stop, and a small plain clothes army of Asians wielding semiautomatic assault rifles (I don’t know much about guns, but that sounds like a good description), who are able to take down every single person guarding the White House. Except for Banning, who seems to be the only person in the area competent with a gun and stealthy enough to hide behind objects while someone is shooting at him. The White House is supposed to be the most protected building in the world, they even mention that later in the movie, but it seems like it sure fell quickly and easily. A little too quickly and easily to be believable. Why is Banning the only person with skills of his level? I’m pretty sure there would be plenty of other agents who are just as good as him. And why is a random sanitation truck (which turns out to be a tricked out attack machine), allowed to sit in front of the White House unquestioned? I thought that you weren’t even allowed to drive on the street in front of the White House! There were so many non credible things going on that it really distracted me from the movie, wondering how all of this could even be allowed to happen. Eventually, Banning is able to make his way into the White House unscathed, while everyone else attempting to protect the White House is dead.
Down in the Bunker, it turns out we have some traitors in our midst, and they take the President and other government officials hostage. They say they do not want our nuclear codes, so what is it that they want? Morgan Freeman, the Speaker of the House, is appointed as Acting President, as the answer to this question eventually unfolds. Banning’s priorities are to find and save the President’s son, save the President, and the save the country, in that order. In classic Hollywood style, Banning saves the day on all three counts, waiting until the last possible second to come through.
I have to mention another thing that bothered me, which was the fact that the whole hostage situation depended on the President taking the entirety of the South Korean team into the Bunker, despite the fact that such an action was against protocol. How did they know that he was going to insist on bringing everyone with him and that he would override protocol? For such an elaborate plan, it seems like a huge risk to take to assume they would get to join the President in the Bunker.
Plenty of action in this movie, lots of gunfire, explosions, destruction, and even hand to hand combat, with a bit of humor thrown in every now and then for some comic relief to this tense thriller. Unfortunately, the non-believability factor was a bit too distracting in some cases. This movie is supposed to be realistic, but doesn’t always seem realistic. However, it is a fun ride worth taking if you don’t care about credibility, and action is all you’re looking for.
My rating: 6.5
One Guy’s Perspective:
Olympus has Fallen is your standard, run-of-the-mill action movie. Think Die Hard, set in a more political setting. Unfortunately, most original ideas have already been hashed out a million times when it comes to cinema, particularly the action genre. The success of an action movie depends on a few things: the actors, a compelling story, and the use of all the standard action movie tropes in an interesting way. This film stars Gerard Butler as your favorite butt-kicking hero Mike Banning, Morgan Freeman, your butt-kicking (spoiler!) president stand-in, Speaker Trumbull, and Aaron Eckhart, your lovable, altruistic President Asher in danger.
Mike Banning, our hero, is introduced with the use of tragedy, in order to portray the “tortured soul” hero archetype. (Cliffhanger anyone?) At the start of the film, our hero is shown having a close relationship with the president, sparring with him in a boxing ring. Designed to introduce these characters, and portray to the audience the closeness Mike Banning has with the president was interesting, and useful for setting up their future relationship. After this scene, Mike Banning begins escorting President Asher and his family from Camp David through a massive blizzard, and through a tragic turn of events, the First Lady winds up plummeting to her death down a bridge; with Mike Banning unable to save her.
The movie fast forwards 18 months, Mike Banning is working a desk job (President Asher can’t stand to look at him according to his conversation with Secret Service Director Jacobs, so he has been demoted to work for the treasury, the branch the Secret Service belongs to). The president is scheduled to have an important meeting with the South Korean Prime Minister, which as can be expected, goes horribly wrong.
Without spoiling too much of the action, through a turn of absurd events (I pray our government is not as incompetent as they are in the movie), a North Korean force attacks the White House. While the actions is clearly over the top, it is mildly entertaining. The action proceeds, with North Koreans seemingly springing from the ground to engage the pathetic force guarding the White House. It also just happens that Mike Banning works within viewing distance of the White House, sees what’s going down, and hurriedly makes his way to the White House.
The attacks continue, and eventually, the movie degrades into a cheap Die Hard-esque storyline–Mike Banning is trapped in the White House with a slew of terrorists, while the terrorist leaders hold the president hostage in the presidential bunker. Oh, also, we have our Cerberus plot device that sets a countdown for our hero (I really hate these silly plot devices). And finally, the enemy has a secret tunnel out of the bunkers he can blow through with a little explosives (I really think the president ought to make sure his presidential bunker is a little more impenetrable).
While the cliché action and story plays out, it is hard not to let the testosterone take over and get really into the fight scenes. It’s pretty cheesy and over the top, with a few cheese ball lines thrown in for good measure, but it is enjoyable enough in a guilty-pleasure kind of way. Oh there is a love story in the movie, but whatshername (Leah) is forgettable, and clearly an afterthought or was poorly written for the film.
Overall, I would give this movie a 7 out of 10. It has decent enough acting, a likeable enough hero, hated enough villain, and a president that you actually care enough about to hope he doesn’t die. Olympus has Fallen breaks no new ground, and begs, borrows and steals from its cinema cousins, but is enjoyable enough to spend $10 on.