Olympus Has Fallen (Blu-ray)

August 15, 2013 8 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

Terrorism has been around for ages and, most likely, will always be.  If there’s one thing that the September 11 attacks taught us it’s that if someone has a well-executed plan and is willing to die for their cause – there’s very little anyone or anything can do to prevent that from happening. Now it’s highly unlikely that an enemy (in the case of this movie, as in real-life, it was the North Koreans) can take over Washington D.C. in 30 minutes and occupy the White House. Then again that’s what the characters in this movie thought as well.  The question I always ask myself is why?  Why do things like this?  What’s to be accomplished?  Is it all about money? Or power?  Both?  Then again I don’t think like a terrorist which, I suppose, is good.  All that aside, we’ve got a star-studded cast, the latest actor to portray our Commander-in-Chief in Aaron Eckhart and one man who has the weight of the world on his shoulders.  This could get messy.

Former Secret Service agent Mike Banner (Gerard Butler) is frustrated.  He loved his job guarding the President (Aaron Eckhart), but after a near-fatal car crash, had to make a decision as to save the President or his wife (Ashley Judd).  He chose the President.  He’s since been moved to the Treasury Department and hates it.  This all takes a backseat, however, when the North Koreans literally fly into Washington D.C. and start mowing down the town.  Improbable as it may seem, they’re successful and take over the White House.  The President and his staff are held hostage in a bunker where Kang (Rick Yune) is after the Cerebrus codes that will give them control over the nuclear arsenal of the United States. Mike, of course, has managed to infiltrate the White House and is their only hope of saving the day.  Sound familiar?

About 30 minutes into the movie it hit me (bear in mind I’m slow) in that Mike Banner is, in essence, John McClane and that Olympus Has Fallen is basically Die Hard in the White House (that or a “Day” of 24 – take your pick). Now that’s not bad as I actually found the movie to be interesting and entertaining.  Granted we pretty much knew what would happen from the get go, but that’s Hollywood for ya.  And, to his credit, Butler does make for a pretty good action star though it took me a few minutes to try and figure out why Jeremy Renner had aged a decade since his last movie.  Anyone get it?  They look alike.  At any rate, the point of a movie is to be entertained and I was.  I don’t know how plausible the execution or the aftermath of what happened is and I doubt anyone would confirm or deny it.  Still is is somewhat disturbing that this could happen. Let’s just hope it never does.

Video: How does it look?

Utilizing a wide scope, Olympus Has Fallen is presented in a 2.40:1 AVC HD image that’s darn near perfect. The landscape of Washington D.C., CGI as it may be, looks stunning and though the majority of the film takes place either indoors or at night, the image is never compromised.  Detail, as can be expected, is stunning.  The beads of sweat on Gerard Butler’s face, the little scrapes and bits of blood and even the stray hairs that are out of place.  Contrast and black levels work well never leaving us with any movement or loss in the shadows.  It’s a rock solid transfer and one that’s indicative of a new to Blu-ray film.

Audio: How does it sound?

The DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack reels us in from the opening scene and really never lets us go.  The opening car wreck scene has a massive “thump” that actually jarred me out of my seat for a moment.  There are countless bullets, rockets and just about every other projectile fired in the film and with the speakers whizzing and churning about, I was dizzy from the onslaught of sound that encompassed me.  Vocals are strong and well-centered too, with Butler’s grizzly, raspy voice taking the lead.  The LFE had their fare share of work to do here and the surrounds were humming away in several scenes.  Truly this is an immersive soundtrack and one that only adds to the excitement of the film.

Supplements: What are the extras?

Olympus Has Fallen was moderately successful at the box office and Sony has wisely given it several supplements to help warrant a purchase.  There’s nothing too deep here and a commentary track by director Antoine Fuqua would have been nice, alas it’s missing.  Having said that we begin with “The Epic Ensemble” that focuses on, you guessed it, the depth of the cast and the recognizable names that you’ve seen countless other places.  Moving on we find the most robust feature “Under Surveillance: The Making of Olympus Has Fallen” this has director Antoine Fuqua and some members of the cast and crew as they comment on the authenticity of the film, some of the technical aspects of it and some of the work it took to re-create our nation’s capital.  “Deconstructing the Black Hawk Sequence” is a look at what it took to bring half a dozen helicopters into the film, their size, shape and scale as well as making their movements believable.  “Ground Combat: Fighting the Terrorists” delves into the fight scenes, Butler’s commitment to his role and some of the other bits and pieces of choreography.  Lastly we find “Creating the Action” VFX and Design” which gives us some insight into what it took to build D.C. in a computer, the visual effects involved (destroying the Washington Monument, for example) and a few other bits and pieces.  Also included is a DVD of the film as well as an UltraViolet copy.

* This chart can also be found in the White House Down review.

“John McClane” RoleChanning TatumGerard Butler
PresidentJamie FoxxAaron Eckhardt
Bad GuysNorth KoreaJaded U.S. Government
Speaker of the HouseRichard JenkinsMorgan Freeman
Landmarks DestroyedWhite House, U.S. CapitolWashington Monument, White House
Child trapped in White House?Yes (girl)Yes (boy)
Strong female lead?Yes (Maggie Gyllenhaal)Yes (Angela Bassett)
Veep (Vice-President) Dies?YesYes
DirectorRoland EmmerichAntoine Fuqua
StudioSony (Columbia)Sony (Columbia)

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