Olympus Has Fallen review (Blu-ray)

OK, question time. What is the best Die Hard film to be released in 2013? If you answered A Good Day to Die Hard, then kindly leave the room. Because the answer is actually Olympus Has Fallen.

Butler stars as Mike Banning, a former Secret Service agent who left in disgrace when the first lady died in a car crash on his watch. Now working for the Treasury department, he happens to be passing the White House when a bunch of North Koreans invade and take President Asher (Eckhart) hostage. So it's down to he-man Butler to fight his way to the underground bunker and save the free world from the forces of evil.

Yeah, it's all a bit gung-ho and rah-rah and God Bless America. There's a LOT of flag-waving, too; whether or not all the pro-American gibberish is tongue in cheek or not is debateable, but it sure is hilarious. That aside, this film is awesomely over the top and a LOT of fun. Butler is terrific as the former US Army Ranger turned presidential bodyguard. He's as tough as nails and can throw out a quip that could rival John McClane or James Bond. Example: "Lets play a game of 'Go Fuck Yourself'. You go first."

He's taking on a bunch of nasty North Koreans (Hollywood's new go-to bad guys) led by Kang (Yune). The makers of Olympus Has Fallen learnt a very important lesson from the first Die Hard film: it's absolutely essential in a film such as this to have a great bad guy. And Kang is a great bad guy. He's a vicious bastard who will happily shoot a hostage in the head with batting an eyelid, and he's set his sights on destroying South Korea and starting World War 3. He's taken the president hostage to force the US to withdraw the Seventh Fleet as well as their thousands of troops stationed in the DMZ. The decision on whether to do that or not falls to acting president Trumbull (Freeman), the Speaker of the House, who takes over when both the president and vice-president are "indisposed". Any film where Freeman gets to be president is all the better for it.

Olympus Has Fallen is gloriously violent. Blood flies across the screen at every opportunity, and there are enough F-bombs dropped liberally throughout to make Mary Whitehouse rise from the grave. It's a proper, adult action film, the likes of which we haven't seen for a while. For too long now, our action has been trimmed to make the film kiddie-friendly, to ensure a bigger box office. But THIS film eschews that, to offer proper, albeit trashy, adult entertainment. Of course, it's best to ignore the utterly implausible set-up – the way the North Koreans invade Washington and take over the White House could never, ever, EVER happen in the real world. Not at all, it's totally impossible. But hey, who cares, this is Hollywood. So is Olympus Has Fallen the best Die Hard film in years? You bet – yippee-ki-yay, Gerard Butler.

EXTRAS ★★ There's the making of featurette Under Surveillance (11:36); the featurette The Epic Ensemble (6:58); the featurette Deconstructing The Black Hawk Sequence (3:30); the featurette Ground Combat: Fighting The Terrorists (3:02); the featurette Creating The Action: VFX and Design (7:03); and a gag reel (2:26).

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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