Olympus Has Fallen / A Walk in the Woods

One film I’d never heard of; another I was curious about, for inclusion of the word Walk within the title…


Olympus Has Fallen – It stars Gerard Butler, Morgan Freeman features and the title sounded similar to a rare advert I had seen for a current film, London Has Fallen… I knew nothing of the film I’d rented and felt hugely underwhelmed, having seen the CGI-heavy adverts for the film set in London – which does, from what I’ve since learned, appear to be a sequel.

When they give the main character a name like Mike Banning, it’s hard to hold on to much respect throughout the remainder of a movie. Gerard Butler is perhaps best known for his role in 300 (which was quite good but, in my opinion, not nearly as good as it was and has been made out to be). A Scotsman portraying an American accent never makes for comfortable viewing.

Banning is your typical ‘video game hero’ – everyone else around him gets killed in an instant. He can survive getting shot and beaten so he can save the day before the credits roll. As far as a story goes; the White House gets attacked and over-run by terrorists. Lots of innocent lives are lost and Butler becomes a hero… But I saw that coming before I put the disc in to the slot behind my TV.

Other sources have given this film 6/10 and I think that’s very generous. I’ll be avoiding the sequel. It is a great shame that Morgan Freeman is involved with both films.

A Walk in the Woods – I’m not familiar with the work of Bill Bryson (although I recognise the name) but this film, I believe, is based on one of his recent books. Bryson’s an American travel-writer who previously spent ten-years living in England (somewhere towards the north, I believe – Derbyshire or Yorkshire, maybe). Having written about adventures and journeys all over the globe, he now challenges himself to walk the Appalachian Trail and finally share something of his homeland.

If you’re thinking of Wild, The Way or Into the Wild then you’d best not expect something too similar here, as this film is produced more like a comedy… Perhaps that suits Bryson’s writing style? I wouldn’t know.

Bryson’s wife (played by Emma Thomspon) is adamant that he must not tackle the challenge alone and so, he reluctantly enlists the support of long-lost friend, played by Nick Nolte. I don’t really know what Nolte is famous for, although he did appear to make an ‘uncredited’ appearance in another film I watched recently (Run All Night). But he’s a big guy and his style in this film seems to blend well with and against Robert Redford, who portrays Bill Bryson.

This film appears to have substituted the ‘intimacy’ of Wild for humour and comedy. Early on, we become aware of Bryson’s potential inspiration behind the decision to take on the Appalachian Way but that’s about as far as it goes. There’s a chemistry between Redford and Nolte that make this quite entertaining, especially if you’re a fan of the actors and this is discussed a little bit further in one of the bonus features. But I think you’d have to be a fan of Bill Bryson to get the most enjoyment out of this. It offers less, by comparison to other films, for those keen on hiking.

For an alternate short-film on the Appalachian Trail; British writer Phoebe Smith uploaded this video a few months ago; inspired by Bill Bryson:

Thanks for reading.

2 thoughts on “Olympus Has Fallen / A Walk in the Woods

  1. Bill Bryson might be like Marmite, but I love his books. Haven’t seen the film, but the book is a great blend of factual info about the Appalachian Trail and his own experience of walking it.
    I agree with you about Olympus has Fallen – just a ridiculous and formulaic Hollywood ‘blockbuster’.

    1. Ah, now that explains why Robert Redford was randomly throwing facts in to his dialogue! 🙂 Perhaps you might enjoy the film or at least, recognise more of Bryson’s character in it.

      Of course, you’ve probably walked a lesser-known stint of the Appalachian Trail that many haven’t, Ruth. 😉

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