Coincidentally timely in it’s arrival, Olympus Has Fallen may actually raise some concerns about ideas North Korea may gather from an American movie, since our current relationship with them is not exactly on first-rate terms. It portrays a totally unthinkable scenario much similar to the president’s plane being hijacked in 1997’s Air Force One. Our one advantage maybe that North Korean President Kim Jong-Un’s trouble making gives him no time to watch anything-including American movies.
Winter during Christmas is a bear at Camp David when we see our President,Benjamin Asher (Aaron Eckhart),his wife Margaret, played by Ashley Judd, looking stunning in a long black dress, and their young son Connor being given a five minute departure time from Gerard Butler’s Agent Mike Banning. They’ll be escorted back to the White House through some pretty bad weather. All goes reasonably well despite the heavy snowfall as the President and First Lady joyfully exchange Christmas gifts while riding in the limo. That is until a rogue tree branch slams the President’s vehicle causing it to careen to the edge of a bridge. In the ensuing melee Banning manages to save the President, but not Mrs. Asher who topples over the side, limo and all.
Proverbial redemption for our “disgraced” hero turns up a year and a half later when South Korean Prime Minister Lee sans entourage arrives in Washington for emergency talks with Asher about volatile situations between North and South Korea. In an absolutely horrific deja’ vu moment, Banning is hurled into another melee’ of combat when North Korean radicals suddenly storm our capitol and the oval office resulting in a hostage situation that includes the Commander-In -Chief and his staff. This is the part that could worry you about what President Kim is watching.
As with his character, Gerard Butler needs some redemption. His previous offerings, Chasing Mavericks and Playing For Keeps, didn’t exactly click with audiences at the box office. Here, he is an action hero fighting for the literal survival of our nation as an ex -Special Forces soldier who must instantly overcome all past regrets and heartaches,finding himself a lone insider amongst an army of terrorists. It’s a pretty good come back that will possibly remind you of his glory days of “300.” Remember him in that?
No redemption required for Aaron Eckhart. It’s a credit to his many turns in both major and independent films playing our stout hearted free world leader who, along with Secretary of Defense Ruth McMillan(Melissa Leo) suffer abuse from the maniacal head terrorist Kang (Rick Yune), right inside the President’s home. Eckhart’s Asher knows he must remain strong for his son and the country despite the tragedy 18 months ago.
Academy Award winner Morgan Freeman has never needed any type of redemption. The man has played God for Pete’s sake. He is his usual epitome of authority as Speaker of the House Allan Trumbull, securing the reins of the Presidency when Asher and the Vice President are taken hostage. Working alongside Angela Basset’s Secret Service director Lynne Jacobs, Trumbull’s calm demeanor in the midst of a chaotic situation is indicative of Freeman’s being one of the great actors of our generation.
You would swear that director Antoine Fuqua (Training Day) loves explosions nearly as much as Michael Bay. It gets quite overwhelming as our capitol comes under attack from air and ground forces, fastening your attention relentlessly; you’ll need to put your seatbelt on. Nevertheless, thank God, he has the smarts to couple visceral action with visceral performances from a talented cast that makes you firmly believe in American patriotism.