‘Olympus Has Fallen’ review: When the White House falls, a Hero will Rise

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'Olympus Has Fallen' review: Gerard Butler as Mike Banning and Aaron Eckhart as President Benjamin Asher in Olympus Has Fallen
Gerard Butler as Mike Banning and Aaron Eckhart as President Benjamin Asher in Olympus Has Fallen

Movie synopsis

When the White House is attacked in broad daylight and North Korean terrorists overtake the building, U.S. President Benjamin Asher (Aaron Eckhart) is taken hostage in the bunker. It’s up to disgraced former Secret Service agent Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) to save the day before the terrorists find the President’s son, who’s still hidden in the White House, and coerce President Asher into giving up the nuclear codes.

Olympus Has Fallen review in a nutshell

A gripping, suspenseful, testosterone-filled ride riddled with bullets, bodies and blood.

Would I recommend you to watch it?

Are you a B-list action movie fan? Do you like Die Hard? How about American ra-ra propaganda films full of violence and vengeance, about how great they are and how they’ll never surrender to terrorists, and then the macho leading man totally kicks everyone’s asses single-handedly, and the terrorists are blown to pieces? This is EXACTLY the film for you.

Click here to jump to the bottom for where you can watch Olympus Has Fallen.

Otherwise, continue reading for a full, spoiler-filled review.

Full review of Olympus Has Fallen (with some spoilers)

I’ve been wanting to watch Olympus Has Fallen ever since I found out that Aaron Eckhart is playing the President in it. (Huge fan, handsome guy, wish he acted in more movies that weren’t box-office failures.) And it lived up to its exciting promise, though I didn’t expect it to be Die Hard in the White House. The entire movie was a gripping, suspenseful ride riddled with bullets and bloody bodies.

I wasn’t fond of the excessive violence, but I wholeheartedly supported Gerard Butler kicking ass. He plays a disgraced Secret Service agent formerly on the President’s detail who somehow ends up as the only free agent roaming around in the White House after it is attacked by terrorists. Naturally, he becomes a one-man avenger who sets things right, but not before tons of bruising, battering, and hostage crisis situations in the White House bunker involving cold and ruthless North Koreans, the raging but helpless President, and nuclear weapon self-destruct codes.

Aaron Eckhart as President Benjamin Asher being threatened by a North Korean terrorist played by Rick Yune in Olympus Has Fallen
Aaron Eckhart as President Benjamin Asher being threatened by a North Korean terrorist played by Rick Yune in Olympus Has Fallen

The cast is pretty stellar. Morgan Freeman plays the Speaker of the House who is called upon as Acting President since the actual man and substitute is trapped in the bunker. (And who better to be Acting President than “God” and “Nelson Mandala”?). Melissa Leo plays a tough-as-nails Secretary of Defense, who withstands brutal torture, but still manages to make it out alive (with some timely intervention). And Ashley Judd makes an elegant five-minute cameo as the First Lady who dies in a tragic accident that explains why Gerard Butler wasn’t in the White House, and therefore could launch his attack from behind, so to speak.

Angela Bassett as Secret Service Director Lynn Jacobs and Morgan Freeman as Speaker Trumbull in Olympus Has Fallen
Angela Bassett as Secret Service Director Lynn Jacobs and Morgan Freeman as Speaker Trumbull in Olympus Has Fallen

He also launched his attacks in the dark. There were plenty of times when I couldn’t see what was going on clearly because there wasn’t much light. (Yes, “realism”, but a little more light would have been helpful. I hate it when I can barely see what’s happening on screen!)

Several cheesy lines requisite of this kind of movies also pop up: “With all due respect”, “I’m the best hope you’ve got”, “The United States of America doesn’t negotiate with terrorists”, “What are you planning to do with my son?!”, etc. But if you watch it for what it is — an action movie that entertains without need for dissection — then you will come out feeling that your two hours have been well spent.

Gerard Butler as former Secret Service agent Mike Banning on his one-man avenging quest in Olympus Has Fallen
Gerard Butler as former Secret Service agent Mike Banning on his one-man avenging quest in Olympus Has Fallen

It’s a strangely prescient movie too, the current world tensions being as they are now. (Edit: Back in March and April 2013, North Korea was threatening to launch a preemptive nuclear strike on the U.S. and South Korea.) The filmmakers must have been shocked at how coincidental the timing is. It also exposes a gigantic hole in U.S. national security defenses. Things I’ve learnt from the movie: Shoot down all unidentified airplanes on sight, no questions asked; and B, *Never* invite foreign leaders into your secure bunker. Or trust former Secret Service agents who are visiting the White House with other countries’ diplomats.

At the end of the movie, my nerves and guts felt all twisted inside from the thrills and excitement of the past hour that it took me a while to stop feeling as though *I* was the one who had been under attack.

Where to watch Olympus Has Fallen

Streaming services: Olympus Has Fallen is on Netflix US but not Netflix Singapore, Amazon Prime Video, or Hulu.

Rent/Buy: Get it on iTunes, Amazon, Vudu, Microsoft, FandangoNOW, Redbox

How to watch Olympus Has Fallen if you’re not in the U.S.

The rental/purchase links above aren’t for international viewers, so if you’re in Singapore and you really want to watch the movie, you’ll need a VPN if you don’t already have one. ? I’m using NordVPN, which costs US$125.64 for 3 years. It’s supposedly one of the few VPNs in the market that can bypass Netflix geo-blocks. NordVPN is even cheaper if you have a Shopback or Rakuten account (formerly known as Ebates) and activate your cashback before your purchase.

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