‘Olympus Has Fallen’ is a throwback to the popcorn-action flicks of yesteryear

Gerard Butler in 'Olympus Has Fallen'
Gerard Butler in ‘Olympus Has Fallen’

Inside the auditorium you’ve stepped into a time-warp.  You are back in the 1980s, the era of big-action movies with cheesy music, lots of bad-guys and some innocents going down and the hero or heroes always save the world just in the nick of time.  Stir in some modern special effects and technology and take out the cheesy music and you have Olympus Has Fallen.

“Mike Banning” is a Secret Service agent and as the film begins, he is the head of the President’s protective detail.  He is well-liked by “President Asher” (Eckhart), First Lady “Margaret Asher” (Judd) and their son “Connor” (Jacobsen).  They have to leave Camp David in a driving blizzard in a motorcade to get them to a fundraiser.  There is a problem en-route.  A problem with a tragic end.

Morgan Freeman in 'Olympus Has Fallen'
Morgan Freeman in ‘Olympus Has Fallen’

Eighteen months later, Banning is working a desk at the Treasury Department, not far from the White House.  He wants to get back to work on the protective detail but the President doesn’t want to be reminded of that night.  However, Secret Service Director “Lynn Jacobs” (Bassett) is working on it for Banning.  Banning’s marriage to “Lynn” (Mitchell) is a bit strained because he hates working a desk.

The South Korean Prime Minister is coming to visit as tensions are high on the Korean peninsula.  He and his security team are brought into the White House and suddenly all hell breaks loose.  Aerial attack, terrorists on the ground and among the PM’s security detail manage to overcome all resistance.  When the attack is over, they are in firm control of “Olympus”, the Secret Service code word for the White House; and making demands.  The President and his key cabinet members are being held prisoner in a bunker deep beneath the building.  Connor is being sought by the terrorists to use as leverage against the President.  However; during the fighting, Banning manages to get inside the White House.  He becomes a one-man wrecking crew, trying to locate and free Connor, and then the President and others being held.  Time is of the essence as the terrorists have demanded the U.S. pull out of Korea by dawn.  Also, there is a secret weapons control system in that bunker and they are trying to hack into it.  If successful they could take down the entire system of U.S. nuclear missiles.

"Mike Banning" (Gerard Butler) trying to save the President's son (Finley Jacobsen) in 'Olympus Has Fallen'
“Mike Banning” (Gerard Butler) trying to save the President’s son (Finley Jacobsen) in ‘Olympus Has Fallen’

The implausibility of much of what happens in this film isn’t worthy of discussion or real consideration.  It’s a popcorn action flick and on that level it delivers quite well.  Rick Yune makes a great villain as the leader of the terrorists, aided and abetted by a former Secret Service agent.  Butler is a fine action star and carries off the role quite well.  Eckhart is suitably “presidential” and Morgan Freeman makes a nice Speaker of the House and acting President.  Then again we’ve seen him leading the nation in a crisis before and he was believable then as well.  There are a few moments where the action sequences are overwhelming the story but only a few.  Buy a big tub of popcorn, sit back and enjoy.

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