A film like "Olympus Has Fallen" makes sense as an appetizer for the summer's action-packed, big-budgeted special effects spectacle. The Antoine Fuqua-directed film, starring Aaron Eckhart as the besieged president and Gerard Butler in a role that amounts to Secret Service Bruce Willis, offers viewers a nostalgia trip back to the 1980s where one-liners went hand-in-hand with gunfire and violence. Critics have cited the action movie plot as both its strength and weakness; some critics find it a charming time-killer while others warn you to steer clear.
The supporting cast is also filled with A-Listers like Ashley Judd and Morgan Freeman, who most critics say do the best with the material they're given. (It's impossible for Freeman to be bad in any movie, at this point.) Critics are pretty evenly split with this action-packed flick; people expecting a deep film experience should probably look elsewhere.
Read on for a sample of "Olympus Has Fallen" reviews.
"The action is the real star here, and it's all good enough. It isn't great — the aerial special effects are distractingly cheap — but at least there's lots of it on display. So if you have an uncle who hasn't seen a movie since 'Taken,' he's gonna love this one. Whether or not being in a darkened theater as people cheer knives plunging into Asian foreheads and tattered American flags are hoisted to rousing horns gives you a lump in your throat or a serious case of the willies is entirely your call, and you're likely to apply much more thought to the matter than the filmmakers ever did." — Jordan Hoffman, Film.com
"'Olympus Has Fallen' is about as satisfying an action thriller as can be hoped for, with an irresistible premise and nothing but follow-through all the way to the finish. It's too derivative to be a classic — practically an uncredited remake of 'Die Hard' — but such a work of craftsmanship as to command respect, at times even awe. It's that wonderful, totally unambitious yet satisfying thing, a really good movie." — Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle
Butler's Been Better
"The film is a second-rate 'Air Force One' mashed up with a third-rate 'Die Hard,' with Gerard Butler striving mightily to be charismatic as the One Man Who Can Save the Day. But this unapologetic B-movie at least keeps the action rolling, and the time goes by quickly. To put it another way, I'd rather see Gerard Butler stab a terrorist in the neck than flirt with Katherine Heigl... [Director Antoine] Fuqua bungles one of their best ideas, a scene in which Mike runs into a colleague he doesn't know has become a turncoat. Instead of letting the tension come to a slow boil, Fuqua gives it about 30 seconds and has them duke it out. Then again, Fuqua is so sloppy that he has a newscast identify North Korea as being in 'Southeast Asia.' Still, the director is better at his job than Butler is at his: The actor is as all-American as haggis. Not only would 1980s Bruce Willis have done a better job, even Sylvester Stallone would have been superior. How hard can it be to find a tough guy who can lay down a smirk and some automatic-weapons fire with equal aplomb?" — Kyle Smith, New York Post
Or Butler's the Best
"Of the three leads, Morgan Freeman is the old reliable pro. It's not one of his more memorable performances, but he's just so good at it you don't care. Eckhart is suitably presidential and has some moments where we see the man behind the title. The one who runs away with the film is Butler, who seems much more comfortable as an action star than he has in his less action-oriented films. He plays Banning not as a superman tossing off pre-fab quips, but as a solid professional who is doing what he's been trained to do. Incredible as the proceedings are, his performance keeps the film grounded. 'Olympus Has Fallen' is the movie equivalent of the paperback thriller you bring to the beach or for a long plane trip. It grabs you from the start and then returns you to your seat two hours later. It's a great ride." — Daniel M. Kimmell, New England Movies Weekly
The Final Word
"The film starts with an American flag, fluttering over a wintry Camp David. It then jumps to nearly two straight hours of foreign invaders being tortured, blown up and executed. It ends with the Stars and Stripes raised again, in triumph, over the White House. And the audience never stopped cheering. Occasionally, I was one of them. 'Olympus Has Fallen' is that kind of film, a well-made, manipulative action picture smart enough to operate on some very atavistic levels. First, show anonymous, evil strangers hurting folks you identify with. Then have one true-blue character hit back, hard. It's a movie made for fist pumps." — Stephen Whitty, Newark Star-Ledger
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