A good action movie should tug at your heartstrings a little, make you feel sorta sappy and emotional. 2013’s Olympus Has Fallen opens and closes with a shot of the American flag, slowly blowing in the wind. There’s plenty of “America, F*** Yeah!” action movies, but few lay it on as thick and rich as Olympus Has Fallen. For a lesser movie, this could be a kiss of death, but Olympus Has Fallen rides that ridiculousness all the way to Awesomeville. Its hardcore and action packed, a beautiful and fast-paced flick that came out of nowhere.
Once Olympus Has Fallen gets going, it doesn’t stop. From a over-the-top siege on the White House – I think roughly a million people die while guerrillas assault 1600 Pennsylvania Ave – to the tactical crawl from our hero that follows, there are no punches pulled. Director Antoine Fuqua keeps the insanity through the roof and doesn’t stop until that last image of the red, white, and blue fluttering proudly in the wind. It’s fan-freaking-tastic.
Olympus Has Fallen serves as a testament to want an amazing action star Gerard Butler is. Watching this movie makes me depressed when I think of all the time he wasted on romantic comedies and other nonsense. Butler has the chops to be one of the genre’s top dogs and Olympus is him in damn fine form. He has the everyman appeal of Bruce Willis in Die Hard but a tactical grace that gives the character Mike Banning a life all his own. Hopefully, the success of Olympus Has Fallen will convince Butler to stick with the action movies and steer clear of the other stuff.
Of course, Butler’s success in this movie is largely because he’s given so many great moments to shine. He beats in a terrorist’s head with a bust of Abe Lincoln; he gets the drop on a dude and stabs the crap outta him with cheetah-like speed and gets in tons of glorious firefights. Butler is always in the fight of his life, always a moment away from certain death. Other action heroes would be cracking wise or flexing their muscles, but Fuqua presents out hero as a guy who doesn’t have time to make jokes or pose. This is the story of a man on a mission and, as Angela Bassett says, “he’ll move mountains or die trying.” That’s some good stuff.
Speaking of Bassett, Olympus Has Fallen has a supporting cast that most movies can only dream of. We’ve got the aforementioned Angela Bassett, Aaron Eckhart, Ashley Judd, Robert Forster, Dylan McDermott, and Morgan effing Freeman. Few action films can boast such a talented, versatile cast. Basically, if somebody speaks in Olympus Has Fallen, the chances are good that that person has been nominated and/or won a major acting award. I would like to remind you that this is a movie about terrorists overtaking the White House and the one man who can shoot or stab them all.
Yes, this movie is ridiculous. Yes, it tries a little too hard with the ol’ patriotism. That doesn’t stop it from being a whole lot of fun and the kind of movie that we action junkies crave. Olympus Has Fallen is about the thing that most great action movies are about: redemption. Mike Banning is a man out to redeem himself, a man out to prove that he can save those that need saving. In the very capable hands of Antoine Fuqua, Olympus Has Fallen is elevated to the level of classic. It is at least the best terrorists-attack-the-white-house action movie. Sorry, White House Down.
So, if you are looking to celebrate America and spend a little time in the rocket’s red glare (there’s also plenty of bombs bursting in air) then look no further than Olympus Has Fallen. It’s got a super fun story and action to spare. The White House hasn’t blown up this good since aliens visited on Independence Day.