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Gerard Butler
Aaron Eckhart
Morgan Freeman
Dylan McDermott
Melissa Leo
Radha Mitchell
Cole Hauser.
Antoine Fuqua.
Creighton Rothenberger
Katrin Benedikt.
Running Time
120 minutes

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Olympus Has Fallen
Aggressively dumb

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With tensions boiling over in the East, the US President (Eckhart) welcomes a group of Koreans to the White House. Bad plan. With extremists running amok in the Oval Office, can a disgraced Secret Service agent (Butler) avert disaster?

Olympus Has Fallen
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Mere weeks after being befouled by Jonathan Pryce in GI Joe: Retaliation, 1600 Penn has an even worse day in the aggressively dumb Olympus Has Fallen. The first of two 2013 movies presumably pitched as “Die Hard in DC” or “Air Force One on land” (Roland Emmerich’s White House Down kicks Potamac later this year), this one comes courtesy of Training Day director Antoine Fuqua. So for this type of film it’s surprisingly hard-edged: one scene sees Melissa Leo kicked hard in the stomach, while (unlike any of Emmerich’s films) a sequence with a dog ends badly for the mutt. The shame is, it’s sloppily constructed and short on fun.

A rushed production schedule, designed to get the film into cinemas before its bigger-budget rival, could be blamed for some of the problems. The visual effects are frequently scruffy-looking, particularly during the many moments of skybound carnage. The action, while starting strongly with an intense extended assault on the White House lawn, degenerates into dimly lit grappling in Presidential corridors. And the props department must have been in a hurry, too: all the coffee mugs in the Pentagon briefing room bear the words “The Pentagon”. But the real issues lie in the screenplay, from first-timers Katrin Benedikt and Creighton Rothenberger, which grinds from one hokey beat to the next.

Not only is Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) a Xerox of the haunted hero from In The Line Of Fire, you’ll get 24 flashbacks when he starts barking questions at vanquished foes (and with Butler’s accent occasionally slipping into his native brogue, it really is a case of Jock Bauer). Besides a subplot involving his friendship with the tiresome First Child, and an odd running theme involving him knifing people in the head, the actor barely gets anything to do. Although he at least has a few memorable zingers, which is more than you can say for Morgan Freeman (whose big moment as the acting Prez is a speech about how he likes his coffee), Aaron Eckhart (who spends the run-time tied up) or Rick Yune (who can add another deranged-but-dull North Korean to his CV, after Die Another Day). Other characters are so lazily drawn that they’re introduced with subtitles explaining who they are.

There’s a decent film in here somewhere — the baddies are impressively savage and Fuqua manages to make the taking of the world’s securest building seem just about credible. But for every smart moment, there’s a cringy close-up of a US flag, or a flashback to something we saw on screen ten minutes ago, or a news report that spells White House as “Whitehouse”. Yes, that really happens. Twice.

A grippingly brutal first act and strong cast can’t stop this turning into a Steven Seagal film well before the end. And the on-screen clock, pointlessly providing the time before every single scene, may drive you mad.

Reviewed by Nick de Semlyen

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Olympus Has Fallen
Empire Star Rating

A very enjoyable movie

It's patently absurd to give this movie two stars. Three maybe, but two?? It's a great fun, very solid and tense action thriller of the kind they just don't make anymore. Brought me back to the nineties when they made actual good action movies. Very surprising review Empire. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Madhava at 15:51, 28 May 2015 | Report This Post

Plot weaknesses

Okay, the excitement was good and the plot relatively good. But why oh why do Americans always go for shoot first and ask questions later? Conner, the president's son is wanted alive to make the president give in to the asses' demands. The kid is hiding in the partition within the walls. The turd terrorists hear him and open fire with machine guns ALTHOUGH THEY WANT TO TAKE HIM ALIVE. Silly. I've seen this type of stupid plot weakness so many times in Hollywood films I think how much are thes... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by lazaskey at 14:22, 28 December 2014 | Report This Post

RE: Olympus Has Fallen

Olympus Has Fallen has excellent action sequences, and Fuqua does a terrific job making Washington, D.C., look like a battleground. For indulgent viewers, this will be enough. ... More

Posted by chang at 09:36, 31 December 2013 | Report This Post


Ok, so it's another "Die Hard In a ..." film, so far so unoriginal. But this one has so many Die Hard moments that the term 'blatant rip-off' is pretty valid. The fact that not one of them has any of the class of the original says it all. This can be enjoyed with the brain switched off, no problem there, and you (probably) won't be bored for the 2 hour runtime, but at the end of it all it's nothing more than a very pale and soulless imitation of a classic. So why bother? ... More

Posted by Vitamin F at 13:33, 03 December 2013 | Report This Post


Die Hard in the White House? Twice? In the same year? And how long did it take those (barely a dozen?) North Korean terrorists to take over the whole place? 5 minutes? 10 minutes? I didn’t realise that Hollywood still churned out genuine propaganda movies. RED DAWN and ACROSS THE PACIFIC immediately spring to mind. This film comes across like a John Milius WET dream – big, dumb and about as subtle as a concrete slab in the face. The plotting is simple a, b, c, and the villains are s... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by ROTGUT at 16:37, 10 September 2013 | Report This Post

luckily it was a free screening

I felt embarressed watching it to be quite honest. I agree with a previous review that it just reminds you of better action films. The 'funny' lines weren't funny and none of the acting was anything special; and all are capable of much better performances. 30% of it was making fun of North Korea (but could be replaced by any other country that the US doesn't like) and the other 70% was Gerard Butler being the ultimate American hero... whilst doing not very much. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by jenksuh at 15:02, 10 September 2013 | Report This Post

Some people say it is like Die Hard but isnt Die Hard A good film?

If it's pure action you're after, this probably won't disappoint: there are helicopters, Secret Service agents, Gerard Butler, fights, bad guys, missiles and some big-budget explosions. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Dom Brownbill at 14:24, 09 June 2013 | Report This Post

Olympus Has Fallen Promoted by the film’s star as Die Hard in the White House. It’s a risible film devoid of any soul directed by Antoine Fuqua who made the excellent Training Day. This film succeeds at consistently reminding us of better films in the action genre. It joins a long line of forgettable action films in 2013, it’s arguably the worst. It begins promisingly with a nice set-piece at Camp David. The story centres on ex-secret service agent... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Conboy at 15:09, 08 June 2013 | Report This Post

RE: Olympus Has Fallen

I saw it twice and loved it. I do love Gerard Butler but I'm not biased. I don't blindly enjoy all of his films. The first time I saw it was an advanced preview, and the second a regular showing which seemed much darker (especially once inside the White House) than the first. I hope it's not that dark when it hits blu-ray. It's just good fun, I think. Cheesy, sure, but I don't think it takes itself too seriously. The CGI is a little iffy in a couple of places but I've seen much worse. I wa... More

Posted by doubtlesswonder at 23:08, 16 May 2013 | Report This Post

RE: Olympus Has Fallen

Even though i watched it a few weeks ago, i still cant decide whether it was good or terrible. Was over the top an borderline laughable at times but at the same time it was a lot of fun, can imagine loads to hate it and loads to love it. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Sonny Wortzik at 20:38, 16 May 2013 | Report This Post

RE: Olympus Has Fallen

Loved it 9/10 for me. Gerard Butler makes for a good action hero. Morgan Freeman is always good value for money. A silly film maybe but a lot of fun. Very violent and extremely over the top. Loved it ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by princessa at 13:02, 06 May 2013 | Report This Post

RE: Olympus Has Fallen

This was utterly daft but fun. The White House gets taken far too easily and where are all the planes, helicopters, army and police? It had silly logic like that, which when you compare it to the likes of Air Force One (which also seemed a bit ridiculous) the characters say and do things that just don't add up. But Gerard Butler is quite good and he does get some good lines, like the one someone mentioned earlier. And how the hell did Robert Forster's General get to where h... More

Posted by Private Hudson at 00:50, 06 May 2013 | Report This Post


Theoretically a good film. The reality a rather bad film. It had every action hero cliche going (hero calling his other half and pretending everything is fine etc.) and whilst there was a lot of action this became rather dull after a while. I zoned out a little by the middle of the film as it became rather boring. Any film in which even Morgan Freeman provides a bland and poor performance is not a film worth watching. ... More

Posted by sanchia at 10:32, 03 May 2013 | Report This Post


I love a good action movie, and I tried to enjoy this. I really did. But it was just too bad. Missed opportunities in the story, painful cliches and horrible shakycam just ruined any enjoyment I may have had from this movie. Surprisingly the CGI blood didn't annoy me too much, because practical effects or no the movie was still pretty damn violent, which has to be admired in an age of 12A Die Hard movies. I was expecting more from Gerald Butler, but he still had a decent amount of charisma desp... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Mr Gittes at 14:25, 02 May 2013 | Report This Post

A bit of a rip off of a Vince Flynn book and a bit of a lost potential. Sloppy bits such as "The Whitehouse" and the ease at which a plane gets into Washington airspace and the way that the defence of the White House is so poor did detract a bit. But still better than the latest Die Hard... ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by bretty at 15:42, 28 April 2013 | Report This Post

RE: Olympus Has Fallen

I enjoyed this. Admittedly I don't think I've ever seen a film that was so Join-The-Dots with its cliches, but it was a lot of fun ... More

Posted by Hood_Man at 14:54, 27 April 2013 | Report This Post

RE: Olympus Has Fallen

This is only a little bit like Die Hard. He keeps his shirt on for God's sake. We detected references to Under Siege ( wooden leading man with a permanent look of constipation), Independence Day ( flags, stirring speeches etc), and, best of all Galaxy Quest ( would be a spoiler to tell). On the whole this was good, undemanding fun. A thought occurred to me on the way home. If these are such well-trained, ruthless terrorists, how come they can't shoot straight? A P S thought. Why so many ... More

Posted by GCH at 14:56, 26 April 2013 | Report This Post

RE: An insult to the viewers intelligence.

Former U.S. Army Ranger Mike Banning is the lead Secret Service agent assigned to guard President Benjamin Asher. On a drive from Camp David, the car transporting the First Family crashes; Banning saves President Asher, but his wife Margaret dies in the crash. Eighteen months later, Banning works at the Treasury Department, within eyesight of the White House, having been demoted. During a meeting between Asher and South Korean Prime Minister Lee Tae-Woo, Korean-led guerrilla forces, aided by tr... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Dr Lenera at 21:40, 24 April 2013 | Report This Post

Solid big dumb action film

I guess my question to those that have been disappointed by this film (looking at you Empire) is what were you expecting!? This is a what it says on the tin (trailer) action movie and it's refreshing brutal - like they used to be, rather than aiming for the 12a rating. If only the Die Hard chaps had got hold of this story and somehow contrived to have had McLane working near the White House we could have all been spared the ridiculously bad Die Hard 5 and the franchises reputation would be in ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Marvel_79 at 16:21, 23 April 2013 | Report This Post

Terrible but great fun.

The movie is shonky yes, but its a nice return to the meaty not aimed at 12 year old action thrillers of the 90s. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by spideed2 at 09:31, 22 April 2013 | Report This Post

RE: one of the dumbest films I've ever seen.

A welcome return to the Die Hard clones of the 90's. This is effective hero-porn with ultra vicious villains and unrelenting brutality, the perfect antidote to the neutered PG-13 action pop that even Die Hard has fallen victim to. It has moments of brilliance - the breach of the White House is systematic, efficient and frightening, and Gerard Butler makes a great action hero, steely and masculine like Gibson and Crowe before him. After the initial slaughter the film falls victim to genre c... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Drooch at 02:02, 22 April 2013 | Report This Post

RE: one of the dumbest films I've ever seen.

L: tysmuse But that doesn't mean it isn't a little fun. After the embarrassment of Die Hard 5, it was great to see actual violence - terrorists who execute hostages is always great to see - and swearing. Shame the script is full of every cliched line in existence. ep, I thought it was good fun too and also enjoyed the OTT violence; just what a b-movie actioner should offer. My main gripe was the murkiness of the whole thing. Maybe it was just the screening I was at but can anybo... More

Posted by mackey at 19:50, 21 April 2013 | Report This Post

one of the dumbest films I've ever seen.

But that doesn't mean it isn't a little fun. After the embarrassment of Die Hard 5, it was great to see actual violence - terrorists who execute hostages is always great to see - and swearing. Shame the script is full of every cliched line in existence. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by tysmuse at 19:39, 21 April 2013 | Report This Post


Double Post ... More

Posted by Willy Wood at 14:47, 19 April 2013 | Report This Post


Once the White House was taken the film offers little except a die hard parody without that certain something that makes Die Hard, well Die Hard. It was almost like the White House was left vacant after the initial assault. ... More

Posted by Willy Wood at 14:08, 19 April 2013 | Report This Post

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