Olympus Has Fallen

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Olympus Has Fallen Movie Poster Image
Popular with kidsParents recommend
Patriotism and extreme violence in tense action flick.
  • R
  • 2013
  • 120 minutes

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 9 reviews

Kids say

age 15+
Based on 60 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

There's a strong patriotic message, though it's wrapped in lots of violence. Sacrifice for your country is promoted, as is sacrifice for the life of innocents. One man is able to take on an entire small army of terrorists and -- with his strength, smarts, and dedication (and weapons) -- defeat the enemy.

Positive Role Models & Representations

All of the Secret Service agents and soldiers take their jobs seriously, and Mike goes above and beyond the call of duty to save the president, his son, and everyone being held hostage at the White House. The president and his Cabinet hold up remarkably well under threat of execution.


Extreme, cringe-inducingly realistic action violence. The body count is enormous; people are blown up, shot, stabbed, and tortured in various ways (a knife held up to someone's throat, about to puncture it; a brutal kicking/beating to the head and body; threatening to kill another person if someone doesn't reveal a code; etc.). Viewers hear bones crunching and see blood spatter, spraying brain matter, and severed limbs as highly trained men kill each other. Washington, D.C., landmarks are destroyed, including the White House and the Washington Monument. The worst moments involve torture and assassination of public officials, including members of the president's Cabinet and basically every Secret Service agent and military official stationed at the White House. A female Cabinet member is beaten nearly to death. Children and animals are in peril (a dog is ultimately shot in the head); early in the movie, a mother dies in a terrible car accident. A boy is shown playing violent video games.


A kiss between the president and his wife at the beginning of the movie and one at the end between Mike and his wife.


Strong language includes many uses of "f--k," "s--t," "a--hole," "hell," "ass," "goddamn," "oh my God," and more.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Olympus Has Fallen is a remarkably violent but patriotic action thriller that's like Die Hard meets Air Force One, with way more blood. The body count is insanely high -- people are tortured, blown up, shot, and killed in hand-to-hand combat. Plus, a mom dies in a terrible car accident early in the film, and kids and animals are in peril. All of the violence is grisly and cringe-inducingly realistic -- you'll see severed limbs, cracked bones, televised assassinations, and blood splattering everywhere. On the other hand, there's no sex or romance except for a couple of marital kisses, and the language is strong ("f--k," "s--t," "a--hole") but not relentless. The movie definitely bleeds red, white, and blue, but the intense violence is too much for young teens.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 13-year-old Written bynscharn55 April 5, 2020
OFFICIAL MPAA RATING: Rated R for strong violence and language throughout
Written byAnonymous June 16, 2019

Great suspenseful movie

This movie is a fast paced movie. The R is for very graphic violence and language. The age would just depend on what your own family, but we found that my 12 ye... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byGood_Reviewer December 24, 2017

Similar to other 'Taking over The White House themed movies'

The movie is very similar to other movies involving terrorists taking over the White House. While this movie was action-packed and had exciting scenes, it was... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byavivnaaman May 18, 2018

What's the story?

In OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN, Secret Service Agent Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) has one of the most coveted agency assignments: guarding President Benjamin Walker (Aaron Eckhart). But everything changes when, during a horrific car accident, Banning is able to save the president but not the first lady (Ashley Judd), who plunges to her death. Eighteen months later, Banning is working in a less prestigious post at the U.S. Treasury when a covert group of North Korean terrorists -- posing as the South Korean president's envoy -- infiltrates the White House and takes President Walker and several members of his Cabinet hostage in an underground emergency bunker. Banning slips in undetected and is the only Secret Service agent alive in the White House. He must coordinate with the acting president, Speaker of the House Allan Trumbull (Morgan Freeman); find the president's young son; and try to save the hostages before their leader (Rick Yune) kills his captives off one by one in order to start another Korean Civil War.

Is it any good?

If you don't mind the unflinchingly brutal violence, this is the kind of throwback action film in which one brave man is all it takes to set the world right. Like most presidential action thrillers, there's a certain amount of patriotic cheerleading that goes on when America gets the bad guys -- particularly after national landmarks like the White House and Washington Monument have been destroyed. Audiences demand revenge, and director Antoine Fuqua delivers it in bloody sequences intended to prove that it just takes one well-armed, well-trained American (OK, Butler's actually Scottish, but he's playing an American) to mete out justice. Butler, who's also a producer, has made a series of duds recently, but he's in his element cursing and killing and promising to save the president.

All of the cast members in Olympus Has Fallen bring their A-game to a script that isn't exactly inspired but doesn't need to be when the White House has been attacked, the vice president executed on television, and the female secretary of defense (Melissa Leo, who gives an electric performance) is being tortured and beaten while she recites the Pledge of Allegiance. The screenwriters know there's no way this story can end without a climactic fight between Butler, Yune, and Eckhart, who plays a remarkably fit president. And Freeman and Angela Bassett (as head of the Secret Service) are very good in their secondary roles.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the amount of violence in Olympus Has Fallen. How does it compare to other action films you've seen? Is it necessary to the story? Is it more justifiable because it's in the service of saving the president?

  • For a long time after 9/11, it was frowned upon to show national landmarks being destroyed in a movie. Is it less impactful now, or is it still disturbing?

  • Koreans have recently become a popular "enemy" in movies and TV shows. What are the consequences of portraying a particular group that way?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love action

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