Olympus Has Fallen – Review

Olympus Has Fallen is a suspense, action flick (rated R for language and action) about terrorists taking over the White House, and the agent (Gerry Butler) who single handedly takes down the terrorists, saves the president and all of America.  It sounds a little far-fetched, and yet, I believe in a God became man who single-handedly took down the reign of sin and terror, defeated death and saved all of mankind from eternal damnation and restored them to God in Heaven—so I guess there is part of me, part of most of us probably, who secretly loves the far-fetched, the truly heroic, the impossible made possible.

There is a scene where the President, Secretary of Defense (Melissa Leo), and several other key government types are locked in a room with the terrorists.  The terrorists want a nuclear code, one that is divided into three parts, kept safe by three separate people, each only knowing their part in the code.  In order to get the code, the terrorists have to convince each of those people to give up their piece of it.  These individuals know that if the terrorists get the code, it will mean the end of America and billions of lives, but the terrorists are ruthless (fortunately, thankfully, it wasn’t a very traumatic scene to watch, in my somewhat-sensitive-to-violence-and-torture opinion).  A feisty, determined, fierce in a way you just have to love and admire Secretary of Defense Ruth McMillan takes a beating, refusing to give the code, and you know she really, truly will not give it up.  She’ll die rather than give in.  She will go to the death to defend her country and her people—but everyone else is just aching for her to give it up, to stop the pain because it’s so hard to watch her suffer, when you know she could stop it.

McMillan tells the president, “We all may meet our maker today, but the thing I do not want on my tombstone:  She went down without a fight.”  That’s the scene, the line that stuck with me from this movie.  This little, tiny, feisty woman fighting for life, fighting against terror, holding on with fierce determination because she wasn’t willing to go down without a fight, because she refused to let the darkness win—at least in so far as it was in her power to object.

She makes me think about not going down without a fight in a variety of ways.  In far off ways, like what if I am ever persecuted for my faith?  Could I hold out, could I refuse to deny the name of Jesus?  Would I be willing to endure pain and torture for the name of Christ and my faith in Him?  She also makes me think about not going down without a fight in nearer ways, every day kinds of ways, like when I’m feeling depressed, or need to forgive, or am disappointed and disillusioned.  Am I fiercely determined to fight against those things too?  To not go down easily, to not succumb?  Honestly, sometimes rather than fight against the darkness, I just want to escape it.  I want to read a book or watch a movie or ride my horse bareback really far and really fast with my hands out in the air like Alex in The Black Stallion—something that helps me hide and run when what I really need to do is tackle it head on, wage war against it.

Someday, it’s true, we will all meet our Maker.  What will be on your tombstone though?  That you went down without a fight, or that you fought hard, with all that you had?  I don’t know what challenges you or I might face.  I don’t know if we will ever face martyrdom or if we will have a very real, very specific time when we have to make a choice like McMillan did in the face of our enemy.  I think I can safely say, however, that all of us will face those same choices in much subtler ways nearly every day of our lives.  We will find, daily, that we have to choose to engage and not escape, that we will have to choose forgiveness, choose love, choose hope, choose joy, choose peace and gratitude and patience and kindness and gentleness and self-control.  We will have to choose what’s right versus what’s easy or comfortable or convenient over and over and over again.  It may be subtle, but it won’t be easy.  It’s a relentless battle, and it’s all the harder when the enemy isn’t flesh and blood, but is spiritual and mental and emotional, something you don’t see, but something you feel so desperately (see Ephesians 6:12).   It’s hard, but if you fight it well, someday you will hear what McMillan heard.  McMillan heard her master, her beloved President and friend say, “well done.”  Someday, if we fight well, we too will hear our beloved Lord and King, our Savior and friend, our Maker say, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21), and when that happens, all the struggle and pain and fight will have been worth it.

Questions for Discussion:

  • What kinds of battles do you face?
  • How do you respond to those battles?  Do you tend to fight, or give in, or escape?
  • What would make it worth while to you to dig your heels in and fight as McMillan did?  What motivates you to engage in the battle even when it’s costly?
  • Which kinds of battles are the hardest for you?
  • McMillan didn’t want her tombstone to say she went down without a fight.  What things would you want on your tombstone?  What things wouldn’t you want on your tombstone?

By Stacey Tuttle