American idiot – Olympus Has Fallen review

Olympus Has Fallen

By Richard Haridy
August 20, 2013

Let’s be upfront. Olympus Has Fallen is dumb, violent, overlong, jingoistic, racist, predictable, derivative, and whatever other adjectives those with no sense of B-grade fun wish to throw at it. Sure, it is all those things, but it’s also an exceedingly competent action movie that knows exactly what it’s doing and what it wants to be, which is, literally, Die Hard in the White House.

Gerard Butler is Mike Banning (AKA Bruce Willis), an ex-secret service agent who left his position after a terrible car accident resulted in the death of the First Lady. Six months later, Banning is surfing a desk job, haunted by his past mistakes. When a terrorist assault storms the White House, Banning leaps into action and slips into the building moments before the bad guys manage to lock in down. President Aaron Eckhart is captured by the terrorists and held for ransom, while Banning stalks the corridors taking the intruders out one by one.

Olympus Has Fallen

Antoine Fuqua, known for his self-serious pulp (Training Day, Shooter), locates Olympus Has Fallen in full blown retro-exploitation territory. The film is exceedingly violent and the opening raid on the White House is a starkly confronting set piece. The play on 9/11 imagery is unrelenting and Fuqua frighteningly capitalises on those fears in a bracingly overt way. It’s been almost 12 years since that terrible day, yet the way those scenes of real-life terror have been packaged as entertainment here feels like a carrion call, dating this very moment as the point where America has gotten over the trauma enough to vicariously enjoy cinematic replications of it.

It’s packed with actors who all seem to enjoy slumming it. Morgan Freeman, Robert Forster, Ashley Judd, Angela Bassett, and Melissa Leo all put in fun turns. Fuqua balances a sense of genre self-awareness with a grindhouse nastiness that makes Olympus Has Fallen satisfyingly gritty entertainment. Some might say it’s great until it devolves into a generic Steven Seagal flick. Well, I like generic Steven Seagal flicks, and if you do too, then you’ll find Olympus Has Fallen to be a blast.


Olympus Has Fallen will be available on Quickflix from August 21, 2013.

One Response to “American idiot – Olympus Has Fallen review”

  1. Good review Richard. I have to say, despite it being very dumb and over-the-top, I had fun with it. Actually, I’d say a lot more fun than I had with White House Down.

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