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Movie Review: Olympus Has Fallen (and It Can’t Get Up)

The North Koreans are back and they’re badder than ever. You’d think that those kooky Koreans would have learned their lesson after they got waxed in the Evergreen State in last year’s remake of “Red Dawn.” But no, Hollywood’s favorite Asian Horde is a stubborn and determined foe. In “Olympus Has Fallen,” a bunch of Korean commandos have their hearts set on kicking American butt somewhere a little more important than Spokane . . .


Okay, I’m kidding. Last time, the Korean bad guys were punking Washington State. This time it’s Washington, D.C. “Olympus,” you see, is super-secret-Secret-Service-speak for the White House. Given that most Presidents like to pretend that they’re Roman gods, the code name actually makes sense.

Before we can get to the shooting and other good stuff, we have to go through about half an hour of backstory. The run-up to the big event would be a great time to get a soda or use the facilities, because once the shooting starts you’re not going to want to leave the edge of your seat.

Gerard Butler’s a dedicated Secret Service man and the President’s BFF. Aaron Eckhart as President Asher is every bit as presidential as the last three actual occupants of the White House – maybe more. We’re introduced to Butler and Eckhart as they punch each other’s lights out and sweat all over each other in the White House boxing ring for a few moments of good, clean homoerotic fun.

But the real fun starts when an AC-130 “Spectre” gunship bristling with four M135 miniguns and just about all the tracer ammunition on Earth shoots up M Street, shoots down a brace of US fighters and circumcises the Washington Monument. The collapse of the Monument is clearly an homage to the collapse of the Twin Towers, which I found troubling.

With a well-timed and choreographed ground attack, Korean commandos swarm the White House like it was the Chosen Reservoir. They succeed in knocking over the People’s House in the most action-packed thirteen minutes in movie history. Thirteen minutes! Ridiculous. Most of us can’t get a pizza in thirteen minutes.

When the insurgents capture the President, the Vice President, assorted Cabinet members, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, a couple of hysterical secretaries and the South Korean PM, that leaves Morgan Freeman in charge of the country under a new FCC rule mandating that Morgan Freeman has to be in every movie. Complicating matters, the cute Presidential kid is hiding out somewhere in the bowels of the White House with the bad guys in hot pursuit.

Important officials are being very graphically skullcapped and the White House toilets are out of Charmin. Can it get any worse? Oh, yeah, it can. The bad guys blow up the West Wing, forcing several major Democratic contributors to sleep in tents instead of the Lincoln Bedroom.

Clearly, the Republic is doomed.

Not so fast. Gerry Butler is in the House. If the big Scotsman and a handful of Greek guys in clingy body armor could handle all the Persians in the entire world, then surely Butler can handle fifty Asian extras pulled off the MGM back lot. But can he handle Rick Yune as the most cold blooded movie villain since Hannibal Lecter?

The charismatic Yune plays Kang, a guy who would gladly eat Butler’s liver with a side of azuki beans and a nice soju. Named after a Klingon villain from the original Star Trek, the dude has a score to settle with both the U.S. and the script writers. Me, too. I don’t get why Hollywood has such a boner for a Third World country led by a chubby boy who looks like one of the Cosby Kids. Maybe Jeffrey Katzenberg yacked up a dish of bad kimchee one day and decided right then and there that Koreans were dangerous, but villainous jihadists were just so yesterday. Who knows. What I do know is that we can expect more Korean villains in our future, since Hollywood is the elephant’s graveyard of originality.

Speaking of originality, the plot is the bastard child of the original “Die Hard” and “The Sum of All Fears,” with a little bit of the book Memorial Day thrown in for good measure. Let’s just call the story derivative, and let it go at that. And so what? This is an action movie, it’s built on the tried and true action movie formula and it delivers.

You want guns? This flick has more weapons than the 1st Marine Division. Butler, Yune and assorted good and bad guys seem pretty handy with their SIG P229s. When Butler’s SIG runs out of ammo, he has no trouble persuading a bad guy to hand over his Glock 17, right after he kills him. Most of the Koreans wield Heckler & Koch MP5A3s with ACOGs to devastating effect, shooting up the White House with some first class home defense firearms. There are Remington 700s galore, since there’s always a Remington 700 in every action movie. I think it’s a law or something.

Aside from the aforementioned M135 miniguns on the AC-135 and another bunch of M135s mounted on the roof to approximate the look of the Dutch “Goalkeeper,” the real stars of the firearms portion of the program must be the FN M240Ds. The kids from Korea use them to plaster about five hundred cops and Secret Service guys. What happens is, just when you think that the good Caucasians are winning, the evil Asians roll up in garbage trucks. No, I’m not making that up. Garbage trucks. They swing open doors on the side of the trucks to reveal their FN machine guns, and for a second there I was thinking, “Who would throw away such nice machine guns?” That’s when they cut loose.

The violence is over the top. The special effects are beyond compare. The acting is as overwrought as the material demands. The 6’2” Butler is the sturdiest highlander since Sean Connery, and very believable as a guy who could kick Korean ass all the way across the 38th Parallel. He does a great job of channeling his inner Bruce Willis — the “Die Hard” version, not the old guy from “The Expendables” – right down to the wisecracks.

Olympus had a strong opening weekend, so it’s pretty clear that people are liking this movie as much as I did. Maybe it’s tapped into an anti-government undercurrent. Granted, nobody in the audience cheered when Olympus fell, but nobody seemed upset either. And while one movie does not a trend make, how about two? “White House Down” is due in theaters this summer and it has pretty much the same plot as Olympus. The director of “White House Down” directed “Independence Day,” which also featured the destruction of the White House by illegal aliens.

I know — Hollywood copying itself? Why, that hardly ever happens.


Model:            Olympus Has Fallen
Caliber:           High
Length:           120 minutes
Action:            Awesome
Finish:            Sappy
Price:              $80 million – and you can see where every dollar went

RATINGS (out of five stars):

Style * * * *
The aerial scenes are impressive, the CQB scenes frightening and the acting is mostly strong. The frenetic pacing of the action will amp up your adrenaline faster than an armful of epinephrine.

Reliability * * *
Despite a snooze of a plot – bad guys are out to get us, and only a hero can save us – the movie succeeds on a visceral level.

Don’t see “Olympus Has Fallen” if you’re turned off by violence, gore and frequent double taps to the coconut. The movie is rated R for violence and frequent bad language, so even though there’s no sex, you might not want to bring the kiddies. Otherwise, this movie is pure excitement and brilliantly filmed.


  1. avatar Foster says:

    Way better than the last Die Hard. Way over the top, Hollywood glorifying violence. 3 knife spikes to the top of the head. Monster gun p0rn. I liked it, but it felt like an anti gun message from Hollywood. Loved the actors.

  2. avatar sdog says:

    do they ever explain how the ac 130 penetrates DC airspace without question?

    1. avatar David W. says:

      Why does North Korea have American planes?

      Also doesn’t the White House have anti-aircraft batteries? I mean we give anti-aircraft weapons to every third world country that says “We don’t hate you that much!”, you’d think the White House would have a half a dozen or so at least.

      1. avatar Ben in UT says:

        They do.

        If Wikipedia is to believed at least.

    2. avatar niceguns says:

      Yes, Obama let them waltz right in. After all those are his partners you know.

    3. avatar Jillian says:

      0bama had the control towers closed because of his sequester. /s

  3. avatar John Boch says:

    I saw it last Friday.

    Two thumbs up.

    Yeah, it has its flaws, but compared to the trash Hollywierd puts out today, it was a damn good flick.

    Probably one you’ll want to pick up for your DVD/BluRay library.


  4. avatar g says:

    “The NORTH Koreans are back and they’re badder than ever.”

    There, I fixed it for you. 😉

    Funny review as always, Ralph. I found the shout-out to Tacoma to particularly hilarious… especially given my Seattle-bias as a lifelong Washingtonian.

    On another note… is it just me, or is it because of CoD that every big budget action flick now needs to have a massive strike caused by an AC-130 or other large flying machine ‘o death?

    1. avatar Michael B. says:

      And breakdancing. See the pic for this post.

  5. avatar Pascal says:

    Yeah, more bubble gum for the brain movies

  6. avatar Bub says:

    acog on a mp5??????

  7. avatar aircooledTOM says:

    Disturbed by the ACOGs on an mp5. Give me a red dot or eotech any day of the week. ACOGs is just about useless in “room (or Whitehouse) clearing” situations. Fixed eye relief and 4x magnification make for an awkward tool inside a building. Good flick though. Escapist fun. I particularly enjoyed the head stabbing.

  8. avatar Edohiguma says:

    My first thought to this title was “Damn, where will I get spare parts for my recording device”

    1. avatar Ralph says:

      Maybe the sequel will be titled: “Sony Has Fallen.”

  9. avatar Kyle says:

    Don’t you mean more presidential than any sitting president since Eisenhower?

    1. avatar Jake says:

      In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists, and will persist.

      We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.

      Oh for nine. good job America.

  10. avatar Alex says:

    “Named after a Klingon villain from the original Star Trek”
    Is it bad that this is elicits more excitement from me than the entire hype-train for this movie?
    +1 nerd points btw 😛

  11. avatar the last Marine out says:

    Not to kid you but we have no EMP defense in the USA, that means we are in big trouble !

  12. avatar PT Clay says:

    An interesting and amusing read. One caveat, however–Olympus is the mythical home of the GREEK pantheon of gods (Zeus, Poseidon, Hermes, and the like), not the Roman pantheon (Mars, Venus, Pluto, and so on). The Roman gods which we most easily identify was heavily influenced by the Greek myths and religions, and Roman authors would frequently re-interpret Greek tales through their Roman counterpart gods. Roman literature and history being what it is, the Roman versions of Greek myths are the most widely known and had a much larger influence on the narratives and artistic representations of classical mythology as we know it today…to say nothing of the Romans’ influence on Western society as a whole.

    1. avatar Jay Dunn says:

      The purely Roman divinities like Vesta, Bona Dea, Saturn et. al. were numinous concepts and didn’t even have images, much less a place to live like Olympus.

  13. avatar Shenandoah says:

    What kinda JV squad still outfits itself with MP5’s?

  14. avatar Matt says:

    You all should boycott this movie for it depicts what plans the elite have for us. I suspect we will have an attack on the Whitehouse this year and guess who they will blame. US!!!! F Hollywood and such movies!!!!

    1. avatar William says:


    2. avatar Matt in FL says:

      That’s exactly what I need. One more stupid friggin’ thing for the “boycott list.”

      You really need to get a grip.

    3. avatar Russ Bixby says:

      “Obama is an evil elite…” (sic) By the way, the word is elitist.

      “The elite want to attack the White House…” What “elite” would that be, then? They’d need some elite fighters, anyway.

      Yada yada.

      Note to self: If I ever become a supervillain, any doomsday weapons I create will employ wiring of uniform size, colour and type.

      “Cut the blue wire.” “They’re ALL blue!?!”

  15. avatar danbaum says:

    By this review, Ralph has proven that he is an enemy of the Second Amendment and of gun enthusiasts everywhere. (Just kidding Ralph. See how stupid it looks to be called an “enemy” when you’re nothing of the sort? Just sayin’.)

    1. avatar jwm says:

      Just sensitive or butthurt?

  16. avatar anonymous says:

    This movie is obviously fantasy, since the amount of ammo expended in it does not exist.

  17. avatar Milsurp Collector says:

    An excellent review. Whenever I take my fence-sitter friends shooting for the first time, I ALWAYS make sure to show them clips from films like this back to back with one of Hickok45’s youtube videos beforehand. They learn what guns are vs. what those bastards in Hollywood want you to think they are pretty quick. When I told a friend that the AR-15 fires a .22 caliber bullet he didn’t believe me. I stood .22LR and .223 casings side by side and his jaw dropped. Sometimes it just takes that flip of the light switch moment.

  18. avatar NeonCat says:

    North Koreans don’t (officially) buy Blu-rays or DVDs, everybody else on earth does. That’s why they’re perfect for Hollywood to portray as villains – no need to worry about lost sales.

    1. avatar Wendigo says:

      But, of course, they dare not offend the land where bootlegging Western movies are rampant because of “sales”. I want a good the Bear and the Dragon or a Threat Vector movie, but alas.

    2. avatar Trogdor says:

      Their Dear Leader bootlegs them. His dad was a big movie buff. He’ll see this movie and crank up more rhetoric about invading us and S.K.

  19. avatar Swobard says:

    I failed to notice the author’s name until well into the review. But just after reading the AC-130s carried “all the tracer ammunition on earth”, I was sure I recognized that smartass attitude from somewhere!
    Well written review – not sure if I’ll see the movie…. but maybe when the wife is away it’d be a fun way to spend some spare time!

    1. avatar Ralph says:

      I recognized that smartass attitude from somewhere!

      I have found my metier. 🙂

  20. avatar Jesus says:

    Most action packed 13 minutes in movie history?

    Did you sleep through the opening of Saving Private Ryan?

    1. avatar Ralph says:

      I tried to but it was too noisy.

  21. avatar Lance says:

    You mean AC-130U there is no AC-135. There is a KC-135 but that’s a a unarmed tanker plane.

    1. avatar Tim says:

      There’s also the AC-130H and AC-130W. I worked on all three of them at some point or another. Still, very innaccurate representation of the AC-130, regardless of model.

  22. avatar Ralph says:

    AC 135 was a tyop. I mean a tpyo. Aw, hell, you know what I mnea.

  23. avatar Mark says:

    I saw this movie recently, it was C- at best, but the White House shoot out was fun in a Call of Duty way.
    The best part was the old lady next to me, she kept flinching and covering her ears whenever someone was shot or someone died.

    Also what was the deal with the Head Stabbings in this movie?

  24. avatar matt says:

    This time it’s Washington, D.C. “Olympus,” you see, is super-secret-Secret-Service-speak for the White House. Given that most Presidents like to pretend that they’re Roman gods, the code name actually makes sense.
    Isnt Olympus the home of the Greek gods, not the Romans?

  25. avatar Chuck in IL says:

    I prefer to give my money to people and businesses who will not use it against me and my beliefs. Hollywood does not meet the standard. I’m sure a lot of you will poo poo such a stand. Fine, you are free to live your own life. However, money and power is the only thing leftist understand or care about, and I will not give them either if I can keep from it.

    1. avatar John Boch says:

      Chuck, I hear you. This was the first movie I’ve seen at the theater since Act of Valor.

      Bittorrent plus BT Guard…


      1. avatar Chuck in IL says:

        I did go see Act of Valor. Real heroes in that one. I’ll probably see this one too, but using the aforementioned tools to do so. Keep up the good work John. BTW, any chance of GSL coming to western IL? Like say Quincy?

  26. avatar aaronw says:

    Enjoyed this film tremendously. Not sure why they had suicide sappers blow the WH fence – they could have had the municipal garbage trucks with hidden .50 cals just drive thru. I like the screen cap, since it shows one of the more ridiculous scenes – why were these men streaming out of the building en masse, not attempting to use any sort of cover or real tactics?

  27. avatar Russ Bixby says:


    Ever since Earth Versus the Flying Saucers, trashing the Washington Monument in a movie has been requisite whenever possible. In Mars Attacks, they even made fun of the tradition.

    In such light, I’ll choose to not take that scene as an echo of 911.

    As an aside, and likely some of you’ll believe me full of Bravo Sierra, my father wrote Day of the Dove, in which Michael Ansara played Kang.

    Trivia point: he wanted Kor, as played by John Colicos in an earlier episode – a splendid character and a great performer – but Colicos was unavailable. Kang was Plan B.

    Small world.

    1. avatar Ralph says:

      Holy crap! Jerome Bixby was your dad! He was a brilliant writer. Day of the Dove was excellent, Mirror Mirror was better, and It’s a Good Life is an icon of sci-fi. Just don’t tell me that he based Anthony Fremont on you.

      1. avatar Russ Bixby says:

        Well what do you know? The board is working again.

        Yep, I’m one of ’em; he had three sons, of whom I was the first. I was born in ’62, somewhat after li’l Anthony hit the scene, but my younger brother Jan does bear some resemblance to the character – albeit after the fact. Dad was rather afraid of children, methinks.

        The character Rojan from By Any Other Name was Rusjan in the script, but that didn’t sound sinister enough.

        Anyway, great review and I’ll be seeing it this weekend. Feel free to write with any questions about the Golden Age of SF… 😉


  28. avatar Matt in FL says:

    Ralph, another entertaining movie review. I will probably see it now, based on your review. I had not planned to based on the previews I’d seen.

    Also, I was surprised to find that you liked it. Based on the post title, I thought it was going to be a hard slam.

  29. avatar JLR says:

    “I don’t get why Hollywood has such a boner for a Third World country led by a chubby boy who looks like one of the Cosby Kids.”

    When you watch these movies, you need to mentally substitute North Korea for China.

    The Red Dawn remake was originally supposed to feature the Chinese as the invaders, but it was decided that might be too provacative and would put a damper in ticket sales in China. China has become a major movie for Hollywood movies, and if the Communist Party censors your movie that leaves a lot of money on the table.

    I don’t doubt that the original concept for Olympus Has Fallen involved the Chinese as well, but was changed for purposes of political correctness. The world and Americans in particular are becoming somewhat uneasy with the rapid rise of China. Especially since we’ve enjoyed a period of relative peace and prosperity with America as the world’s sole superpower, since the fall of the Soviet Union.

    Movies and popular culture are, of course, reflecting that anxiety. Except the above-reasons mean we can’t actually say that we’re talking about the Chinese. Fortunately just over the Chinese border on the Korean peninsula there exists an Asian country with a maniacal leader who wishes they could destroy the United States, that serves as a far more acceptable “enemy’ for movie purposes.

    1. avatar Ralph says:

      The original concept for “Olympus” was jihadists, but Antoine Fuqua thought that Middle Eastern terrorists were played out. He ended up using North Koreans as the bad guys, which is good since he was able to get Rick Yune for the pivotal part.

  30. avatar Ralph says:

    A little bit o’ trivia: In RL, Gerard Butler is a qualified attorney, while Rick Yune has an MBA from Wharton. Guess who wins the climactic fight?

    Art imitates life.

  31. avatar Jake says:

    Lost me at North Koreans…… they make for such a bad villain because we all know they could never even come close.

    1. avatar Russ Bixby says:

      I dunno – they’d never win a war, or even a regular battle, but they’d make first rate terrorists.

      They’re crazy enough, have sufficient disregard of consequences and they have the resources – so long as everyone skips another meal per day for a year to pay for it.

      Oh, you say they’re down to one meal per day now? Well, then…

  32. avatar Azimuth says:

    Isn’t this Under Siege except without a ship, and without Steven Seagal?
    Isn’t this Under Siege II, without a train and….yada, yada, yada?
    Isn’t this a perfect example of how much Americans get a Hollywoody for bad guys with guns being righteously dispatched by good guys with guns? Judging by the previews, this movie fires more bullets the DHS bought in the last two months.
    C-130 w/Mini gun Fu, H&K Fu, Double-tap Fu, Washington monument Fu, more rounds spent than can be counted, gratuitous White House remodeling, gratuitous Gerard Butler, no breasts, no ardvarking, and the bad guys lose. 3 stars. Joe Bob says check it out.

    1. avatar Russ Bixby says:

      “Isnt this Under Siege without Steven Seagal…?”

      By it apparently DOES feature a head stabbing…

  33. avatar S. Cautela says:

    Seeing the German Shepherd who was defending the White House get killed for some reason got me more upset than the 156 human body count… At least the North Korean who killed the loyal pup got perforated two seconds after he shot the dog.

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