A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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.
- Parents say
- Kids say
MY RECOMMENDED RATING: PG-13
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?
- In theaters: March 22, 2013
- On DVD or streaming: August 13, 2013
- Cast: Aaron Eckhart, Gerard Butler, Morgan Freeman
- Director: Antoine Fuqua
- Studio: Millennium Films
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Run time: 120 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: strong violence and language throughout
- Last updated: September 21, 2019
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