Friday, March 22, 2013


Olympus Has Fallen

Olympus Has Fallen It's a known fact that a group of US Navy SEALs dropped from the night sky, raided a compound in a foreign country, and killed Osama bin Laden. How about a group of international terrorists arrives from the sky and enters from the front door during broad daylight, attacks the White House, and captures the President of the United States? Luckily, the latter scenario is pure fiction in director Antoine Fuqua's explosive action thriller "Olympus Has Fallen" (USA 2013 | 130 min.). The film tells an incredible story about a brave former secret service agent who single-handedly fights a group of Korean terrorists to save the entire nation, and the president.

The film begins on a quiet and snowy Christmas Eve. Secret service agent Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) escorts the President (Aaron Eckhart) and his family en route to a fundraising event. Everyone can sense the air that something is going to happen. Of course it happens. The breathtakingly intense incident sets the tone for the rest of the movie. As a consequence, Mike Banning leaves the secret service.

A year and half later, when the South Korea prime minister visits the President of the United States at the White House, a heavily armed large aircraft arrives on top of the White House and showers the national mall with rain of bullets. The master mind behind the attack is a Korean terrorist Kang (Rick Yune). By precise coordination, Kang successfully holds the President, the Vice President (Phil Austin), and the Secretary of Defense (Melissa Leo) hostage inside the White House bunker. The National Mall becomes a sea of fire. The nuclear arsenal is under Kang's control—perhaps the US shouldn't have piled up so many nuclear war heads at the first place.

While all hell breaks loose and army's attempts for breaking into the White House fail, Mike Banning miraculously forces his way inside the White House, which is coded Olympus by the secret service. Using his knowledge about the White House as a formal secret service agent (no, the passcode has not been changed), he establishes the only communication between the House Speaker (Morgan Freeman) and the ruined White House. He becomes the only hope to avert an even more catastrophic disaster.

A scene in Olympus Has Fallen

Director Antoine Fuqua hardly gives the viewers any chance to take a break from the extravagant violence and exhilarating action sequences. The situation only gets worse by the minute. Horrific acts escalate one after another. It's surreal to see the familiar White House looked like a war zone in Iraq and Afghanistan. The film's pace is so fast that you don't have the time to pause and to question the credibility of the story.

However, once bullets stop flying, you might ponder about the motives of the attack and some implausible details during the fierce fight. The subplots regarding president's wife and son seem to be out of the place and distracting as well. Where are those Navy SEALs who kill bin Laden? It's too bad that those Blue Angels are only good for showing off during Fleet Weeks, but useless when the White House is under attack.

The commanding Morgan Freeman is more presidential than Aaron Eckhart in the film. It makes me wonder why saving the President's life is more important than the survival of an entire nation. I am sure Morgan Freeman would be a fine president.

After a vivid display of a falling Olympus, it's such a relief that the whole thing is just a movie.

"Olympus Has Fallen," a FilmDistrict release, opens on Friday, March 22, 2013 at Bay Area theaters.

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