Monday, August 12, 2013

Olympus Has Fallen DVD Review

Reviewed by Jami Ferguson
Gerard Butler (300Playing for Keeps), Aaron Eckhart (The Dark Knight) and Academy Award winner Morgan Freeman (Best Supporting Actor, Million Dollar Baby, 2004) lead an all-star cast in Director Antoine Fuqua’s (Training Day) action-packed thriller Olympus Has Fallen, debuting on Blu-ray Combo Pack and DVD with Digital UltraViolet August 13th from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. When a terrorist mastermind kidnaps the president of the United States inside the White House, a disgraced former secret service agent must save the president and take down the invaders. Grossing approximately $100M at the box office, the film also stars Academy Award nominee Angela Bassett (Best Actress, What’s Love Got to Do with It, 1993), Academy Award nominee Robert Forster (Best Actor, Jackie Brown, 1997), Ashley Judd (Kiss the Girls), Academy Award winner Melissa Leo (Best Supporting Actress, The Fighter, 2010), Dylan McDermott (The Perks of Being a Wallflower, TV’s “The Practice”), Rick Yune (The Fast and the FuriousThe Man with the Iron Fists), and Radha Mitchell (Silent Hill: Revelation 3D, TV’s “Red Widow”).

Film (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)

President Benjamin Asher (Aaron Eckhart) is very close with his top secret service agent Mike Banning (Gerard Butler). After a tragic accident, their relationship is strained at Mike leaves the Secret Service. A year and a half later the President is still in office and Mike is moving on as well but is still openly regarded as the best agent Secret Service ever saw. President Asher is dealing with a tense diplomatic situation. The South Korean Prime Minister is visiting the White House when the meeting is cut short by an attack. The White House and nearby areas are fired on from the air while armed intruders attack on the ground.

Mike heads straight for the White House where he finds many agents down. Knowing the White House inside and out, Mike is able to get inside and hide from the attacking forces. When the White House is taken, Mike is the only person on the inside and he alone has the chance to avert global disaster. Speaker of the House Alan Trumbull (Morgan Freeman) becomes the acting leader and with no personal experience with Mike Banning, he has very tough decision to make on who to trust. 

As is often the case, two studios made very similar movies and released them at the same time. When my friends asked me to go see White House Down, I would joke that I had already seen it – but it was called Olympus Has Fallen. To be fair, I never actually saw White House Down, but I gathered from the trailer (and title) that it was also about an attack on the White House. Olympus Has Fallen bares striking similarities to Die Hard but instead of the action taking place at Nakatomi Plaza, it’s at The White House. Whether or not any of these films are particularly original is beside the point as far as I’m concerned. These are big budget action flicks and I go to them expecting to see a lot of action and to see stuff blow up. 

In that respect, Olympus Has Fallen does not disappoint but it is completely lacking in originality and I don’t care. It’s got great action, lots of explosions, gunfire and death. It’s everything I expected, and nothing more. I don’t care if it’s accurate, I don’t care if it’s plausible it’s fun to watch. I believe in Mike Banning just as I did with John McClane. Gerard Butler is a convincing tough guy. Morgan Freeman can certainly pull off the role of “man in charge”. My only complaint is that the First Lady is played by Ashley Judd, an actress I just flat out don't like but even she failed to bother me to any serious degree. Aaron Eckhart could have easily been cast in Gerard Butler’s role but is well cast as the tougher than you’d expect President of the United States.

The supporting cast also nails their roles, making the film easy to “go with.” Angela Bassett, Radha Mitchell, Cole Hauser, and Dylan McDermott are all well suited for their parts, and round out an impressive cast. Often in movies like this, I sit and think about all the other actors that would have done a better job in their respective roles. In this case, a big thumbs up to the casting director.  For the record - if I'm ever in a hostage situation – please send for either Gerard Butler and/or Bruce Willis. While most people know that Nathan Fillion is by far my favorite actor – Butler and Willis both have me convinced of their bad-assness. I’m still on the fence about Nathan Fillion's ability to save my life – should the need arise.

Video (4 out of 5 stars)

Sadly, I was not given Olympus Has Fallen on Blu-ray to review. The film is very dark for the most part, and that’s usually when the Blu-ray is the most important to me. Even on DVD, the explosions are bright and multi-dimensional and the video presentation is certainly adequate. Sony usually produces a very nice transfer, and I look forward to seeing the Blu- ray. Olympus Has Fallen is presented in anamorphic wide-screen 2.40:1, on DVD.

Audio (4 out of 5 stars)

What’s good on DVD is probably great on Blu-ray. Olympus Has Fallen has no shortage of loud noises to rock your living room. Thankfully the dialogue does not get lost in all that action, remaining consistent and legible throughout. The 5.1 English Dolby Digital audio presentation is supplemented with English Audio Descriptive Track and subtitles in English, English SDH and Spanish.

Special Features (1 out of 5 stars)

Sadly, the special features are only available on the Blu-ray. The only extra that the DVD does contain is an Digital Ultraviolet Copy.

Final Thoughts (3 out of 5 stars)

Director Antoine Fuqua delivers a solid, big budget action flick that I’m happy to add to my movie collection. It’s not very original, and that did not bother me one bit. While the premise may not be particularly believable, the cast is – and I thoroughly enjoyed Olympus Has Fallen. The lack of special features on the DVD brought down the average rating of a solid action flick.

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