Olympus Has Fallen (2013)

Olympus Has Fallen (2013)
Olympus Has Fallen (2013) DVD / Blu-ray

By: Bill Arceneaux (Six Beers) –

I don’t remember where or when, but I do believe I suggested that WWE Studios make an action film about killing bin Laden. Zero Dark Thirty was a thinking man’s adaptation, but I would LOVE to see something fantastical, implausible and balls out ridiculous. Think Death Wish 3 meets Commando meets Invasion USA, with an athletic and charismatic lead, an eccentric performance by the villain (perhaps by a famous character actor, preferably of a different race), some hot women in distress, and a high kill count with over the top deaths.

I’d pay hand over fist to watch something as awesome as that.

Action-sploitation isn’t nearly as easy to produce as you might think. Recently, I’ve seen movies that attempt to capitalize on our need for explosions and bullets, but made all wrong; A-list actors, a script that feels off and an all too serious atmosphere that attempts to legitimize things. Uggghhhh…. YOU CANNOT FAKE ACTION AWESOMENESS! Chuck Norris blowing a hole through a bad guy with a bazooka, at point blank range, is NOT A F***ING COMMODITY!


Chuck Norris introduces himself to the producers of Olympus Has Fallen

Olympus Has Fallen had the premise of a kick ass blood bath / silly fest, but all the genuineness of a back alley huckster. Basically, the President has been kidnapped by a North Korean paramilitary leader, who concocts a siege on D.C. and the White House. All but one secret service agent have been killed, turning this into a classic hero vs. an army flick. Oh, and nuclear armageddon is threatened.

A Toast

Before I Reb Brown this movie, I’ll give credit where credit is due.

Cole Hauser, for the limited time he is on screen, delivers the line “olympus has fallen!” very well, and honestly, should’ve been the lead character. He was *spoiler alert* killed off very quickly in A Good Day to Die Hard, and hasn’t really been given much of a chance since the perfectly off the deep end Paparazzi.

Robert Forster and Morgan Freeman have an argument that was a delight to watch…

Beers Two, Three and Four

I referenced Paparazzi above when suggesting that Cole Hauser replace Gerard Butler as the action hero of this film. That Hauser vehicle had an execution and atmosphere of a perfectly crazy action flick; a slimy villain played by a weirdo actor, some cheese and, of course, an over the top revenge plot. Mix those elements up with a cast and crew that are clearly having fun doing what they know are silly things, and you have a great combo.

Olympus Has Fallen fails hard because its atmosphere and execution are all wrong for the story being told; an ensemble cast of mostly top level thespians and a tone close to political thriller… with a premise that exactly matches a project from Canon Films. Imagine something like Clear and Present Danger with a goofy Die Hard plot. One of these things is different that the other. Doesn’t sit well, right? Feels off, doesn’t it? Sure, you can have tension, high stakes and some drama in a big muscles and big guns picture, but you can’t forget that IT’S A BIG MUSCLES AND BIG GUNS PICTURE.


For a moment, we can pretend that’s Cole Hauser.

I remember an episode of Red Letter Media’s web show Half in the Bag, where Red Tails was reviewed. They brought up how it was marketed and presented as some kind of 1940’s propaganda throwback while at the same time being a serious film about racism. Those two elements mesh as well as oil and water, as they clash too hard and almost cancel each other out.

This movie, while marketed more as a thriller than anything, catches the eyes of film fanatics everywhere for a silly plot with action cliches, which brings to mind cheesy one liners, funny sound effects and bad asses being bad asses. Trying to include these elements while going for an Air Force One type movie is a fool’s errand. Either ham it up to 11 with pure explosion-sploitation or get serious with dramatic thrills and a serious real world threat.  Having your cake and eating it too doesn’t work here.

To sum up – Paparazzi got right what Olympus Has Fallen got way wrong. Sad, huh?

Beer Five

Lawrence O’Donnell of MSNBC was in this. I’m guessing that the producers wanted to throw in a recognizable newsman in an attempt to make things feel “real”.

This isn’t always a bad thing. It worked in Contact and Skyfall, but only because those movies were actually good at presenting a relatable world with events occurring in a realistic way. Didn’t Spiderman 3 have a real life reporter commenting on the final fight? Yeah, that felt out of place…

Beer Six

I can’t wait for the behind the scenes interviews with the actors, specifically Melissa Leo and Dylan McDermott. Oscar winner Leo plays the Secretary of Defense (a good casting choice, I think) who is taken hostage along with the President. She is beaten and brutalized, resulting in a performance that resembles an aggressive drunk woman leaving a bar after closing. Harsh words, yes, but I think she knew that this script was crap, and was just trying to overcompensate for that with her acting. She really wasn’t bad, just trying to polish a turd.

And I suspect that Dylan knew this as well, but instead of trying to make something “legitimate”, he just embraced the crazy. His delivery of his lines are as awful as the lines he was given. Silly stuff.

In a way, they are the real heroes of this production – the only guy and gal to understand what was going on around them. This beer is more or less a toast in their honor.


Six Pack

There is only one Chuck Norris. Only one Steven Seagal. Only one Statham. But there are multiple Gerard Butlers. You can’t fake awesome.


A Hollywood war room meeting. The topic? How to fake awesome.

Drinking Game

Take a Drink: If you agree that a middle school computer class from the late 90’s could’ve done better CG.

Take a Drink: of a brand called Sips. It’s tasty, will give you a buzz, and is less embarrassing to buy than a ticket to Olympus Has Fallen.

Do a Shot: Because 2013 will get better. It HAS to.

About Bill Arceneaux

Independent film critic from New Orleans and member of the Southeastern Film Critics Association (SEFCA).


  1. Ah you’re a tad tough on this but I like ypu r style. That what the movie has; bad ass style that blows people and things up real good. I have it 4/5 stars.

  2. I’m glad you had a good time, but I have to disagree. It had the dressed up appearance of action awesomeness, but not the spirit or will to go all the way.

    Put in some well delivered and cleverly written cheesy one liners, kills with popular rock music playing, a heroic suit up montage and a villain that doesn’t make you want to go to sleep, then it would’ve ruled. A couple of super imposed American flags and a few high tech weapons are not enough.

  3. Love your conclusion there Bill. You make a good point.

  4. “Lets play a game of F’ off. You go first”- Banning
    How is that not an awesome snarky action movie quip?!?! Banning doesn’t have a suit, neither did John McClaine and the Chang is no Hans Gruber but he’s good enough.
    I’ve had a good chat with you about this Bill, respect your opinion but disagree heavily. Olympus Has Fallen is best guilty pleasure in quite some time

  5. Maybe the problem here is personal taste. The “game of f’ off” line felt as if the writer wasn’t trying. Nothing fun about it, just bland. When John McClaine was called a cowboy, he replied with “Yippee Kai Yay, Mother Fucker” – which is excellent. When getting pissed off, Banning just says “I’m gonna stab you in the brain”. Eh. Nothing fun, nothing witty and nothing memorable about that. And for a movie with that kind of plot, and built up as a fun action flick, that’s disappointing.

  6. Obviously that didn’t feel that way to me. Right on, it all comes down to opinion and to each their own. Always fun.

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