Olympus Has Fallen (2013)

olympus has fallen

“Ask me a serious question.”

The Scoop: 2013 R, directed by Antoine Fuqua and starring Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, and Morgan Freeman

Tagline: When our flag falls our nation will rise.

Summary Capsule: It’s Die Hard in the White House.


Justin’s rating: Yippe-toodle-loo!

Justin’s review: There are two games that you can play while watching Olympus Has Fallen.  The first is to speculate on just how improbable this entire scenario has to be and think about what would actually happen if North Koreans somehow made a play — from all the way across the globe — to attack the White House and hold the President hostage.  The film has to move very fast to keep you thinking about all of this, giving the bad guys almost supernatural knowledge of every tactical response and an insane amount of luck.  So that game shows how very, very silly OHF’s premise is.

The second game is to create a checklist of every element that this movie has ripped off (not paid homage) to Die Hard.  From my casual count:

  • Disgraced, everyman law enforcement officer in the wrong place at the right time
  • Well-organized terrorists who have the upper-hand — at first
  • Cop establishes voice command with the outside
  • Cop has a friend on the outside but an antagonist as well
  • Terrorists kill hostages point-blank to get what they want
  • SWAT/SEAL insurgency fails due to stubborn commanders and a super-weapon
  • Cop finds survivor who is actually a bad guy, bad guy gives himself away and they fight
  • Cop blows up half of the building
  • Cop dives into walls and ventilation shafts
  • Cop growls out one-liners
  • Cop talks to the bad guys over the radio to taunt them
  • Broken necks
  • The bad guys have a secret agenda that the chaos is supposed to cover
  • The bad guys try to fake their own death in an explosion

And yet while Olympus Has Fallen’s plot is so ludicrous and completely stolen from Die Hard, I have to admit that it’s quite entertaining.  Sometimes that’s the way movies shake out, you know?  It’s not intelligent or original, but it does dumb and unoriginal in a good way.  I haven’t seen A Good Day to Die Hard yet, but based on what I’ve heard, I’m willing to say that Olympus Has Fallen might be the better Die Hard flick this year.

What makes it fun?  I think it’s the combination of almost non-stop (over the top) action, steady actors (Gerald Butler and Morgan Freeman in particular) who project likability, and an unflinching R-rating that gives us brutal firefights.  My wife and I saw this in the theater and left shaking a little from the intensity of it all.  Maybe it was just a “you had to be there” experience that won’t translate well to viewing it at home, but it definitely had that raw power of the first Die Hard going on.

It definitely was not perfect.  Mike Branning is no John McClaine in the wisecracking department, the terrorists are no Hans Gruber, and there are a few plot holes so enormous that you could fly a cargo plane through.  I’d say that this ranks right up there with Under Siege in the Die Hard clone market, and that’s pretty solid praise coming from me.

All Secret Service agents have a fetish for talking to their wrists.
All Secret Service agents have a fetish for talking to their wrists.


  • This is the fourth film in which Morgan Freeman and Ashley Judd have appeared in together.
  • This is the second time Dylan McDermott has played a Secret Service Agent. He also played a similar role in “In the Line of Fire” with Clint Eastwood.

Groovy Quotes

Mike Banning: Lets play a game of “Go F**k Yourself.”  You go first.

Speaker Trumbull: I want to speak to the Russians, the Chinese, the British, and the French. And then I want a press conference. In that order.

Secret Service Director Lynn Jacobs: Is he alive?
Mike Banning: Ask me a serious question.

Mike Banning: [walking in front of the heavily damaged White House] Sorry about the house, Sir!
President Benjamin Asher: That’s alright, it’s insured!

If you liked this movie, try these:

  • Die Hard
  • Under Siege
  • White House Down

One comment

  1. Good review Justin. Is it a smart movie that should be taken seriously? Not at all. Is it dumb as hell and taken without a brain in sight? You betcha!

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