The Sec. of Defense, kicked repeatedly in the stomach and punched in the face, is literally being dragged through the White House desolation by the North Korean terrorists who have taken the President hostage. Moments before, the President urged her to give up her end of the nuclear missile defense code, one of three that are needed to either disable all nuclear weapons or launch them (it's unclear, as is everything else in this movie). She refused but was repeatedly kicked in the stomach and punched in the face, so the President naturally felt that the lives of all Americans and all Koreans (the terrorists want to invade South Korea and unite the two countries) are acceptable trade for his friend not getting beaten up. So after they have no further use for her, they drag her presumably to her death. The Sec. of Defense, a very tough and patriotic character played by Oscar winner Melissa Leo, knows this is the end and like all of us would, starts singing the Pledge of Allegiance.
It gets better! By which I mean worse! The inside man Secret Service agent who is part of the very coordinated attack against the White House, Dylan McDermott, is yelled at by the President for being a Judas. He yells back, literally, "Wall Street!....Globalization!" I don't know about you, but that's more than enough good reason to betray your country to murderous North Koreans. Maybe he should have yelled, "You're the traitor here! Why are you ordering your staff who give up nuclear weapons that would annihilate two countries!" And then the President would yell back, "My wife died in an auto accident last year and I don't want to see anyone else I care about hurt! I don't care about faceless Americans! Besides" and this reason is true, in the movie, "I order them to give their codes, but I will never give mine." They do, and the North Koreans simply hack the final numbers. The Acting President, Freeman, has by now given in to all their demands instead of telling them to go ahead and shoot the President.
When you watch a terrible movie, it produces a sickening feeling. Existential. It's not just the loss of two hours—anyone can waste two hours—but you feel like you wasted your life, irrational as that may be. This feeling would lessen or not be there at all if I were used to watching bad films. But I try to avoid them, and I largely succeed. I don't remember the last bad movie I saw before this dreck. I don't remember the last bad book I read. Being spoiled on a surfeit of good art makes you forget that there is terrible crap out there. I'm pretty surprised this movie was made, in 2013, with that budget and those actors. Morgan Freeman! Angela Basset! Oscar winner Melissa Leo!
Remember Billy Crystal's writing class in Throw Momma From the Train? One man writes a specialized story about submarines, but he doesn't have any technical information about them, so he just makes them up and describes them terribly instead of using the jargon. That's what the script for Olympus Has Fallen felt like. I think they're first time screenwriters but they have no idea how anything in the government and any human relationship work. I don't feel bad for them—writing is hard and you will always start out sucking—but what were the producers and director thinking? A far better movie would be the making of this one, with the subject being: why? Make it in the form of a mystery.
What this will inspire in me is to live a little better, make more of my time on Earth count. I might rewatch The Desolation of Smaug (excellent, better than the first and Jackson should have gotten a best director nod). Or I might smell the roses more strongly and do a new thing I have never tried before. Maybe memorize a Shakespeare sonnet so that when the terrorists are dragging me to my death, I won't recite something so stupid and instead go for beautiful.