Olympus has fallen

The 362nd film I have seen in theaters…

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Today’s film is “Olympus has fallen”. Olympus is the secret service code name for the White House. As one would imagine, the White House falls to enemy aggressors. This movie continues the wonderful duality that Hollywood loves to experiment with. Volcano and Dante’s Peak competed one year for best volcano movie. Last year we had 2 sleeping beauty movies, and 2 asteroid movies back in 1998. Now we get two “White House is attacked” movies. Olympus has fallen and White House Down,  due out later this summer. History usually dictates that the earlier release is the better film. Let’s see what Olympus has for us.

As always, spoilers will follow.

Story

The film begins at Camp David, the presidential retreat in the woods of Maryland. The First Family is leaving on a snowy night to attend a fund-raiser. Aaron Eckhart plays President Asher, and Ashley Judd is the first lady.

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Enroute, a tree falls due to the storm and causes a chain reaction car accident that leaves the President’s car hanging precariously over the side of a bridge. Secret Service Agent Mike Banning rushes in, and manages to get the President to safety before the car tumbles into the icy water far below. He is not about to save the First Lady. The President, and his young son, break down over the loss.

18 months later, on July 5th, Banning has been removed from the President’s detail and is working for the Treasury department. While life has moved on for others, Mike and the President cannot let the tragedy go. The bulk of the film takes place during a time of increased tension between North and South Korea… not unlike right now. lol. The Prime Minister of South Korea, and his security team, enter the White House for a summit. Then all hell breaks loose.

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In a series of incredible special effects a Large Military plane flies through Washington DC and sprays bullets onto the people below. Its rockets and counter-measures deal with defenses by the US Military. It strafes the roof of the White house of all Secret Service agents before it is shot down, crashing into the Washington Monument.

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Mike Banning, stationed nearby, races to the White House just as 30 or so armed Koreans emerge from the crowd of onlookers and start setting off bombs. One suicide bomber blows a hole in the White House fence, allowing the militants to enter the South Lawn, attacking the surviving Secret Service agents. Banning makes his way inside to the porch and starts defending with the other agents. The President is taken to safety in the bunker beneath the White House, and takes the South Korean delegation with him to keep them safe.

At this point, garbage trucks position themselves in front of the White House and begins shooting high caliber machine gun fire into the agents. Dozens are wiped out, leaving the advancing troops easy access to the front door. The other agents dead, Banning makes his way into the White House and finds a hiding spot. The Korean Delegation turns on their Prime Minister and begins shooting all security personnel in the bunker. The President, Vice President, and several cabinet members are captured. All Secret Service agents are dead. Olympus has fallen.

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Speaker of the House- Morgan Freeman is given temporary Presidential powers during the crisis. He convenes with the Joint Chiefs, and head of Secret Service Security to figure out a way to save the President. The leader of the terrorists, Kang, contacts the US Command via video camera in the bunker and assassinates the S. Korean Prime Minister. Demanding the withdrawal of American troops from South Korea, and the Sea of Japan, or all will be killed. The President warns Kang that he will never give in. Kang has an ace up his sleeve as he sends his commandos out into the White House to search for the President’s son as a bargaining chip.

The remainder of the film plays out like Die Hard, which is a great thing. Banning kills some Commandos, manages to contact US Command, and saves the President’s son before the Koreans can get him.

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Now he has to save the President before the Terrorists get the secret codes to detonate all of America’s Nuclear weapons in their silos, effectively destroying America.

Cast

This is one of those marvelously cast movies that really elevates the source material.

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Gerard Butler is a great action lead, and does not let down audiences here. A strong leading man type, and a great actor, who is more than capable of being a believable hero.

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Aaron Eckhart has a knack for playing government and law enforcement types. He brings a remarkable humanity to the character as this man faces his worst nightmare.

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Melissa Leo plays the Secretary of Defense, she plays the hell out of it. Her defiance in the face of the enemy is awesome. A great role for this Oscar Winner (2010 The Fighter)

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Ricky Yune has finally wiped the smear of Die Another Day from his resume and plays a good villain. Cold, calculated malice is in his every action.

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Dylan McDermott plays a Security officer who left the government to work freelance…as a friggin terrorist apparently. Asshat.

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Angela Basset, Robert Forester, and Morgan Freeman make for some really great, and tension filled, scenes as the US Commanders trying to figure out this situation. I’d vote for Morgan Freeman at this point. He plays a great leader.

The film was well shot, and directed. The special effects and stunts were top notch. This is a brutal film that literally pulls no punches- even the murder and torture of women. It all serves the purpose of the story as we are forced to face a terrible threat as a nation, and recover from it. A well made movie, worth the 8 bucks for the ticket.

This means that White House down will probably suck monkey balls, especially since it is a Roland Emmerich movie. Sorry Channing Tatum lovers.

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Seriously, this guy is only 32. Why does his face look plastic surgeried? This guy is a quarter way to Mickey Rourke!

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