Olympus has fallen OR: The one movie you should miss


If you haven’t seen Olympus has fallen yet, please don’t bother. An easy breezy summer night paired with a half-price-offer lured me into the movie theater. I should have spent the money on ice cream instead because I can’t remember the last time I saw such an awful movie. And by awful I mean:

– bad acting (Morgan Freeman was in it but sometimes he picks movies like strawberries – as long as you have a full basket it doesn’t matter if there’s one or two foul ones in there).

– bad screenplay (after Bruce Willis in Die Hard and Jack Bauer aka Kiefer Sutherland in 24, who really needs another movie about a secret agent saving the President?)

– bad plot development (a Secretary of State who has nothing better to do before she dies than saying the Pledge Of Allegiance – seriously??)

– have I mentioned bad acting?

In one word: The movie was baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaad!

But nevertheless there was something about it that caught my attention: the archetype of the American hero. It is the same story, probably told since the Founding Fathers, that through its re-telling, re-writing and re-enacting has become part of the US mythology. I am talking about the underdog who, through courage, faith and determination, saves his family / his town / the world / the US / the President. And you can find him everywhere in the US, as the idealized American stereotype: strong-willed, committed to a cause (even if it means he has to die), fighting alone against all odds. It is this very type of INDIVIDUALS that this country grows, nourishes and admires. To name a fes: George W. Cowboy Bush, a man fighting for his country against the terrorists; Steven Jobs, the ONE great mind fighting for his vision of technological innovation; Michael Jackson, who fought first against his father, later against prejudices and accusations to follow his musical dream and many many more. 

Now, let’s compare this American hero to other heroes:

1. The Greek hero (to go along with the movie title)

The Greek hero is strong but too pompous and in the end he falls. 


2. The Japanese hero

The Japanese hero fights an internal fight, with two possible outcomes: He either wins and reinstates his role in society or he looses and has to vanish (typically through suicide) – but either way, the focus is on the hero’s part in the social structure not about escaping from it or excelling his peers. 

3. The German hero

I don’t believe there even is such a thing as a German hero. If so, only in a person’s mind. Which is where he fights (and mostly looses) his ideological battles. The German hero in books or movies is a broken hero, an unemployed father who ends up killing his only child, a lover who is torn between two women and ends up committing suicide. It is an individual battle, with no prospects of winning it. 

And the American hero? He always wins! Even if he dies, he wins. He is never broken. He never fails. There are millions of movies who show that better than Olympus has fallen BUT – they all go with the theme. 

So I can’t help but wonder: Who tells the story of the American looser?