A squabbling two-party system seems like a petty annoyance compared to the problems fictional President Benjamin Asher (Aaron Eckhart) confronts in "Olympus Has Fallen," a well-crafted thriller that hits you like a triple shot of espresso.
Still mourning 18 months after the first lady (Ashley Judd) died in a tragic accident, the single-dad president puts grieving aside when terrorists violently storm the White House, taking him and his staff (including the defense secretary, played by Melissa Leo) hostage.
The bloody operation, masterminded by a fashionable villain (Rick Yune), yields a high body count and bends plausibility as a former Secret Service agent (Gerald Butler) stages a one-man Bruce Willis
The setup has an absurd "Red Dawn" sheen to it, but Antoine Fuqua ("Training Day") makes it so lean and mean it doesn't matter. The highly stylized director takes advantage of focusing on damaged American icons -- a tattered flag is flung off a balcony; the Washington Monument gets whacked by a plane. All of it effectively rouses our red-white-and-blue dander.
The White House becomes part of more cinematic action in two other films -- next weekend's "G.I. Joe: Retaliation" and June's "White House Down." How will "Olympus Has Fallen" stack up? Who cares?
There's no reason to overthink this. Just leave your brain at the lobby and enjoy 2013's most entertaining thriller yet.
'Olympus has fallen'
* * *
Rating: R (for strong violence and language throughout)
Cast: Gerard Butler, Morgan Freeman, Aaron Eckhart, Angela Bassett, Ashley Judd, Melissa Leo
Director: Antoine Fuqua
Running time: 1 hour,