I’m not talking about the daily terror faced by the current President confronting congressional opposition. This is the old-fashioned kind, reminiscent of the War of 1812 when the British, in fact, burned down the White House. Except now, we’re dealing with North Korean renegades who invade the Chief Executive’s home and hold him hostage. At stake is fate of South Korea, along with President Benjamin Asher (Aaron Eckhart) and a few top Cabinet members.
If not for the 9/11 tragedy, “Olympus Has Fallen” would seem ridiculous. How could terrorists just waltz in and seize the White House and America’s Main Man? Since we’re still shell-shocked from the World Trade Center collapse, seeing a stealth bomber crash through the Rose Garden gates and unload a bunch of armed bad guys is frighteningly believable.
Directed by Antoine Fuqua (“Training Day”), ‘’Olympus Has Fallen” religiously follows the suspense-action formula set up by “Die Hard” and “Air Force One.” It all boils down to one man who has somehow snuck into the lion’s den and has the gumption and grit to save the day and the world along with it.
No, it’s not Bruce Willis or Harrison Ford. Those actors are too old. Here, we have muscular Gerard Butler (“300”) as Secret Service Superman Mike Banning. He will be underestimated by evil Korean Kang (Rick Yune) and outwit him cruising through the hidden passages within the White House walls. The President’s young son, Connor (Finley Jacobsen), also knows about these passages (thanks to Banning), so Kang can’t catch him either.
The other reason we can feel secure is that Morgan Freeman is in charge as Speaker of the House Trumbull, after the President and Vice President become incapacitated. And we all know Morgan Freeman is God (“Bruce Almighty”).
“Olympus Has Fallen” provides edge-of-your-seat excitement and would be ineffectual if loose-cannon Kim Jong-un wasn’t running North Korea.
As it is, Hollywood must be happy. The real tension in that Asia-Pacific region makes “Olympus” relevant and a ticket-seller.