Olympus Has Fallen: Wait, Did I Read that Right?

You did. This is not to be confused with London Has Fallen, the sequel to this movie that was released today. There are a lot of sequels coming out in 2016, so I thought it would be fun to take a look back and review some of these older movies in these franchises.

And in essence, that’s what Olympus Has Fallen is at its core: FUN. Here we have a silly, noisy action movie that is surprisingly gripping. My girlfriend suggested that we watch it and was totally into it.

Me: So this is basically Die Hard at the White House, right?

Her: I guess? I never saw Die Hard. 

Oh boy. There may be a series of retro reviews coming your way later this year.

Olympus Has Fallen was a pretty big success back in 2013, making $161 million at the box office against a $70 million budget. I think one of the reasons that it did so well is because how simple it is. It gives us our premise, introduces the bad guys and then gets right into the action. The takeover of the White House occurs early on and allows the movie to establish a ticking clock before we have a chance to get bored. There is constant tension as Gerard Butler attempts to save President Aaron Eckhart from those dastardly North Koreans. Like I said, it’s Die Hard at the White House.

Director Antoine Fuqua doesn’t often try to break new ground  or explore unique themes with his films. Corrupt cops. A fighter seeking redemption. A lethal killer trying to protect the innocent. Not exactly Birdman level stuff, right? This isn’t a criticism so much as an observation of a filmmaker who has found his niche, and that’s to make entertaining, cheesy action films that rely on the star power of the lead actors to carry them through. Denzel Washington has done that for Fuqua more than once and Butler does it here. Fuqua even cast Morgan Freeman as the Speaker of the House, if only because his authoritative voice makes some of the cringeworthy dialogue sound much more appealing.

Olympus Has Fallen isn’t going to blow you away like Butler blows away the bad guys. It knows what it is and doesn’t try to be anything else. There is a surprising amount of tension and that makes this one worth checking out.

Does that mean it deserved a sequel? Well… you be the judge.

Jesse’s Rating: B-

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