Gerard Butler plays Mike Banning, a secret service agent who used to serve as head of the Presidential Detail until he was removed from his position after a freak accident. One day, while skulking along at his new job, The White House is invaded and taken by Korean forces, leaving most of the staff dead and the President (Aaron Eckhart) in the middle of a hostage situation. Banning manages to find his way into the White House during the initial commotion, and finds himself the last hope in unravelling the terrorists' meticulously laid plans.
Just from that brief outline we've already ticked off quite a few action movie clichés. Terrorists, a President/'Murica/freedom in danger, and a lone action hero fighting against all odds (and a bunch of foreigners). There are also some terrible one liners thrown in to boot, and the whole thing just screams generic action blockbuster.
That said, it's actually a pretty tight action blockbuster. Bullets fly, bodies pile up, explosions... explode. There's a bare minimum of quietude to explain elements of the plot, but the rest is unrelenting action scenes, ranging from full scale warfare to one on one fist and knife fights. The initial attack phase that results in the fall of the White House is particularly well put together, instilling feelings of suspense and adrenaline that carry throughout the whole movie.
There are a lot of big names in this movie too. Butler, Eckhart, Morgan Freeman, and while they're certainly not turning in their best performances, they're certainly doing well. Eckhart especially gives us his best "angry bared teeth snarl with tears in my eyes" look that he perfected as Harvey Dent, and Butler growls and grunts his way through many a snapped neck and stabbed torso.
Olympus Has Fallen is a tight action thriller. While it's certainly not a fantastic movie, it's certainly one to watch if you're a fan of the genre. While there are quite a few clichés throughout, it's probably one of the most violent, intense thrillers I've seen in a while. Not that I've watched too many movies lately, but hell, I enjoyed this one.
My rating: 4/5