Olympus Has Fallen Blu-Ray Review - Mania.com

Blu-Ray Review

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  • Rated: R
  • Starring: Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Morgan Freeman, Angela Bassett, Dylan McDermott
  • Written By: Creighton Rothenberger, Katrin Benedikt
  • Directed By: Antoine Fuqua
  • Original Year of Release: 2013
  • Distributor: Sony Home Entertainment
  • Special Features: See Below
  • Series:

Olympus Has Fallen Blu-Ray Review

Stupid but in a fun kind of way

By Tim Janson     August 23, 2013
Source: Mania.com

Olympus has Fallen is much like another recent film that I reviewed about terrorists taking over the White House, G.I. Joe: Retaliation.  Except while that film had the kind of hokum you’d expect from a project based on a cartoon and toy line, Olympus Has Fallen has no such excuse on which to fall back, and yet, strangely, it’s still a satisfying although utterly forgetful distraction.
Some critics dismiss the film as little more than a Die Hard rip-off but that would be incorrect.  Director Antoine Fuqua doesn’t attempt to aim that high.  More accurately, this film is a rip-off of the 1992 Steven Seagal film Under Siege.  In both films, terrorists take over an American-held property in order to gain control of nuclear weapons.  In Under Siege it was a battleship, here it is the very seat of American power, The White House, which they do with more ease than finding a cab in Washington D.C.  Gosh if it really is that easy we’d best all start brushing up on our Korean or Mandarin.
As in Under Siege where Seagal played a former Navy SEAL now working as a cook, Gerard Butler takes over as the lone hero to oppose the masses.  He plays Mike Banning, the former lead Secret Service Agent assigned to guard the President (Eckhart) and his family.  After the tragic death of the first lady (in a short appearance by Ashley Judd), Banning is dropped from the detail and is now working at the Treasury Department.
As the combined land and air assault by Korean terrorists overwhelms the White House guards and D.C. cops, Banning, armed with just a pistol, manages to slip into the White House, killing more of the terrorists than the guards and cops combined.  There he discovers that a traitor within the White House has helped the terrorists capture the President and several of his top cabinet members and is holding them in a bunker 120 feet below the White House.  The terrorists are trying to get the three fail safe codes held by the President, the Secretary of Defense, and the Head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff…all of whom are conveniently in the same bunker.  With the codes the terrorists will be able cause the entire U.S. nuclear arsenal to self-destruct.  Jeez did I say that Fuqua wasn’t aiming high enough?  Incredibly, Olympus Has Fallen is more far-fetched than G.I. Joe Retaliation but that doesn’t mean it’s not without its good points.
Gerard Butler as the man-of-action hits the middle between Bruce Willis’s smartass John McClane and Steven Seagal’s deadpan Casey Ryback, kicking ass, the hell with names.  He mows through terrorists with precision, only stopping to feed intel to acting President Allan Trumball (Freeman) and his advisors.  And of course, this enacts the Freeman effect which basically says that anything that Morgan Freeman is in gets a bit of a spike for his presence alone.  While they may be knee deep in silliness, the rest of the cast including Angela Bassett as the Director of the Secret Service, Robert Forster of the Army Chief of Staff, and Aaron Eckhart are all enjoyable.  And as implausible as the plot may have been there’s still a certain thrilling aspect to watch an attack on the White House take place as you wonder if it could really happen.


Audio Commentary

Under Surveillance: The Making of 'Olympus Has Fallen' (11:30) – A short look at the making of the movie, featuring comments from Director Antoine Fuqua as well as cast members.

The Epic Ensemble (7:00.) – a Look at the cast of the film

Deconstructing the Black Hawk Sequence (3:30) – An all-too-quick behind the filming of this sequence which was changed several times before the final version. 

Ground Combat: Fighting The Terrorists (3:30) – This short featurette looks at some of the films stunt work and combat sequences.

Creating The Action: VFX and Design (3:30) – Yes another very short feature, this one covering some of the visual effects scenes.

Bloopers (2:30)


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CaptAmerica04 8/23/2013 7:47:23 AM

I enjoyed the hell out of this in the theaters. Yes, it was preposterous, built on a premise of utter fantasy and supported by details that harken back to the days of Rambo II in their lack of realism... but that's okay. Die Hard is now 25 years old (the sequels have done it no justice), and Under Siege was released 21 years ago. We've been due an over-the-top, unapologetic action film (aside from The Expendables - it's nice to see a new action star take the reins).

My only complaint was that Fuqua ripped SO MANY details from its forebears (Die Hard in particular) - the scene where the duplicitous insider has a friendly chat in a dark hallway with our hero, including lighting up a cigarette; the failed helicopter insertion by our hero's would-be reinforcements (something from both Die Hard and Under Siege); the familial attachment of our hero to one or more of the hostages (in this case, the President's child). It smacked of something between homage and outright grand larceny of plot points. It was so bad, that I had to remind myself after it was over that it really was Antoine Fuqua who directed it, that he wasn't just a producer on the project. For a talented director who has done some great films, this was well beneath his abilities.

But once you get past the ripoffs, the rest of the film is really enjoyable, and had a few interesting ideas of its own to offer (the garbage trucks-turned-armored fighting positions, for one).  Just don't go into it expecting a lot of originality - it's a rehash of the highlights of a few older movies, strung together with a new setting and a new lead actor - and it's not worth owning on DVD, but certainly worth a watch and maybe a rewatch.

Oh, and the Freeman Factor FTW!!



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