A tale neither of ancient Greece nor of a camera company's market share, "Olympus Has Fallen" is instead a typical slab of Hollywood action in which the White House crumbles under attack, the American flag is tattered and tossed aside by baddies, and clichés rise like gods.
Gerard Butler swagger-stars as ex-Secret Service tough guy Mike Banning, who leaps into action from his desk job at Treasury when terrorists initiate a bloody, expertly timed home invasion on 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Once inside, he becomes the only man — or, as he modestly puts it at one point, "the best hope you've got" — to save the president (Aaron Eckhart) before he gives away nuclear codes to a sadistic megalomaniac (Rick Yune).
The commander in chief's young son is missing as well and could become a pawn for the terrorists if he's not found. There's a redemption angle, too, of course: 18 months before, Banning couldn't save the president's wife (Ashley Judd) in a car accident. But really, if you're Special Forces-trained and have extensive knowledge of the White House interior, do you need any motivation besides saving the free world?
Another screenplay question: Does everything in this movie, credited to writers Creighton Rothenberger and Katrin Benedikt, have to be ripped from "Die Hard"? The inside man is one thing, but the idiots in authority, the rooftop adventure gone bad, the hero mistaking a bad guy for a good guy… it's a hostage movie all right, of that 1988 suspense classic. (Bond movies, too, and "In the Line of Fire" for good measure.)