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Headscratchers: Olympus Has Fallen
  • As much as it would be of course very bad to lose the US President, how important is keeping him alive compared to having the Korean War from reignite by agreeing to the terrorists' demands, which could easily escalate to a nuclear exchange? Not to mention what would happen if Cerberus was activated...
    • This was actually addressed in the original script: During the Hydra sequence, the Speaker of the House would have inserted a second operative with top-secret orders to kill the President in order to prevent Cerberus's activation.
    • Its implied throughout the movie that the Speaker thinks that the situation can be resolved with an assault on the White House. He doesn't think that the Cerberus protocol could be brute-forced, and that if they take out Kang they can just turn the Seventh Fleet and the 2nd ID back around. It takes time for a fleet and 28,000 troops to pick up and move. You're not going to get a force that entrenched to move itself completely from the Korean DMZ at the drop of a hat. It isn't until the very end that they realize the nuclear arsenal is actually in serious threat of subversion.
    • He's still willing to let what he thinks is the President and the remaining hostages be kidnapped by Kang, with the assumption that they'd just follow the tracking beacon and rescue all of them after the fact. If Kang didn't simply kill all of them before they were saved, he probably would have done it after he found out that the new President put the 7th Fleet and DMZ troops back into place. The Speaker was actually pretty shitty at the job: most of what he did consisted of watching what happened and giving in to Kang's demands, including supposedly letting the terrorist get away with most of the remaining Presidential administration, and fully allowing the Korean War to reignite all in the name of not letting the Cabinet die.
  • Just curious how did the terrorist get their hands on the advanced army air defense system, its never really explained?
    • They even lampshade the mystery in the crisis room and then never mention it again. It would have been simpler, if less cool, to just pull out a couple of shoulder-mounted Stinger missiles.
  • This movie could have been over really early had the speaker had to brain cells to rub together, all he would have to do is call the North Korean leader and tell him that if is nutjob commando's didn't release the president than Pyongyang would get a nuclear makeover, given how the North's leader values himself I think he would quickly capitulate.
    • The film never fully confirms that the North Korean government is behind the operation. According to Banning, at least some of the terrorists are North Korean commandos (apparently they wear distinctive tattoos behind their ears), but the only real reference to the DPRK government is when Pyongyang deny any involvement. This troper's interpretation is that it's a rogue DPRK faction, by the use of the world's most wanted terrorist, rather than a salaried special forces operative, as the commander of the mission.
  • The President keeps telling his people "give them your code, they'll never get mine". Sure, maybe he could withstand pain inflicted on him (or so he thought), he'd quickly give it up as soon as he sees another hostage tortured. It's astonishing that Kang didn't try it, considering it worked like a charm twice.

  • Is it just me, or is Cerberus among the worst-designed systems ever in fiction? They say it's a nuclear failsafe so that in the event of an accidental launch the missile can be self-destructed before reaching its target. Good so far. Except that in order to activate the failsafe, you need the codes of all three top-ranking government officials. But in the situation where you would need Cerberus, there's no guarantee that all three would be available and able to enter their codes. Second, the system is also able to detonate every nuclear warhead, even when in the silos. There is megatons of difference between "self-destruct" and "detonate". Third, once the codes have been entered, there is no way to shut down the system without entering yet another code, and the missile silos themselves seem to have no way to abort launch or detonation on their own. So a system that is supposed to be able to prevent nuclear weapons from going off accidentally would in practice do the exact opposite.

  • All right Mr. Acting President, you have five minutes before the entire land based nuclear arsenal of the United States blows up in its silos and covers the nation in nuclear fallout. Why not launch the nukes so that when they go off, they'll be way up in the air, showering the country in EMP, but sparing the worst of the threat, as this would result in no explosive damage on the surface and minimal fallout?
    • Presumably, the complete control that the Cerberus system gives over the nuclear arsenal would have been able to prevent just that.
    • Actually, an underground detonation is the next best thing that can happen. For one, the program detonates the missiles not the warheads. This could be a case of North Koreans not really knowing how nuclear weapons work, in that they'll only go off when they're supposed to, not because the missile they're attached to suddenly explodes.
      • The Americans also react with horror at the thought of the detonations and they even have fancy computer graphics detailing the destruction and death toll, including listing the fallout. It's pretty apparent that it's an error on the part of the filmmakers that can't be explained except by either rewriting the laws of physics in the Olympus universe or suggesting that literally nobody there knows how nukes work. Judging from the idiocy displayed in the film....the latter may be plausible.
      • Not surprising to say the least. Only those that either work with nukes directly (manufacturers, maintainers, and the guys that actually deploy them), or those that bothered to do the research on them actually know how a nuke works. For the benefit of those that don't know, a typical nuclear bomb is typically a Uranium or Plutonium core that is wrapped in high-explosive plates. These plates must detonate at precisely the exact same time to cause the desired reaction (basically a nuclear implosion) to get the desired blast. If one of these plates goes of prematurely, or is damaged, or the wiring connected to the detonator is damaged, the nuke will not work. This is intentional... as I'm sure no one in the 60s wanted a nuke from one of their own bombers to land in their swimming pool... let alone actually go off. Also, it's much easier to clean up the mess when the missile/bomb is still in recognizable pieces... and not in a the midst of a heavy fallout zone.
      • Which is why having the nukes go off in the silo's would be a good thing since they would do a remarkably good job of containing the blast and the plutonium dust.
    • Also the map that shows where the nukes are located is completely inaccurate, all land based silos are located in the upper Midwest.

  • They run facial-recognition on Kang (before they knew who he was) but it came up with no matches. But then, as soon as they find out he's Kang, they pull up his file on the computer- WITH HIS PICTURE!
    • He worked as the South Korean Prime Minister's head of security - presumably someone just added the picture from that to the criminal file once they had confirmation.
    • Yeah, but the facial recognition search should have returned his South Korean identity. There's no way that the head of security traveling with the Prime Minister of South Korea wouldn't have any identification.
    • Either he had his legend worked up to make sure it's free of suspicion or he acted to make sure that he wasn't suspicious.

  • Kang's whole plan relies on several factors that he could not have possibly accounted for. The Vice President and Secretary of Defense had to be in the bunker, and his plan would have been stopped cold if the President hadn't broken protocol by bringing the South Korean PM and his entire security detail with them.
    • He knew the president would break protocol, since that's who the president is as a person, and considering the timing, the last thing either of them needed was for the Prime Minister of an allied nation to basically be told to 'fend for himself'. So while the movie shows it to be a stupid move due to the people that snuck in, it's a move that makes sense in context.

  • How did a bunch of North Korean terrorists get their hands on an AC-130? They simply built one. The C-130 is available openly on the civilian market, and is popular with cargo airlines because of its reliability and utility, so they likely just bought one that was on the market and painted it in (what they thought) were USAF colors. After that, it was merely a case of getting their hands on the weapons, and wiring them up to be operated from the cockpit.
    • But they need to GET weapons. 20mm Vulcans aren't exactly saturating the black market, nor is a huge amount of 20mm ammunition (the amount of cannon shells fired by the plane would have a weight in the tons). Then ship all of it over to wherever they were building and then fly it over to restricted airspace without getting questioned or caught in the act.
      • Not so much, you see, we've been dealing with Taliban rebels using AR 15-patterened rifles, or even M32 grenade launchers. They're crude, but they do work, so it's not much of a stretch that a terrorist group with this kind of funding (and maybe backing) could get one, maybe two examples, and just make their own from materials found around the country. As for the ammunition, they likely made it as well, and for what they were doing, all they'd need is ball rounds and the occasional tracer round. I mean hell, these guys turned a normal C-130 into a pseudo-AC-130 with pilot operated guns, and then used it to open the front door into the white house (and technically back door as well)... I wouldn't put ANYTHING past these guys.
      • Never mind the commonality of the AR-15, but both of those weapons are in use with the very people that they're fighting. US military weapons and such huge amounts of ammunition (the C-130 fired a downright obscene amount of ammo), to say nothing of the plane and a full complement of flares, would be hideously expensive. Same for the various firearms used by the huge amount of attackers, all of which would need to be smuggled in or acquired in the United States. While it might be excusable if it was North Korea behind the attack, Kang was simply an independent terrorist. The entire plot revolves around Kang being hypercompetent, extremely wealthy, and prepared for any possibility while the United States and their allies are nimrods who defend the White House with a bunch of amateur airsoft players.
      • It's not necessarily Kang being hypercompetent and wealthy, but his backers. If he's actually being funded by the DPRK or elements within, it's not -entirely- beyond the stretches of plausibility.
      • The problem I see is that you cannot just by a C-130, strap some guns on it and call it a gunship, the AC-130 has a very different structure inside to support the weapons it carries, if you put four avengers (the guns looked like avenger gatling guns) on a regular C-130 and pull the trigger the plane will get shaken apart by the recoil.

  • Why do the four missiles fired from the White House go for the flares while the one fired from the Raptor hit home? Because the missile fired from the Raptor is AIM-9X which has a nice little computer chip that tells it to ignore flares and go for the REAL target.
    • A bigger problem is that the White House missiles simply detonated in typical action movie fireballs that look pretty but do nothing. In reality, a missile detonating at that proximity to an AC-130 would pepper it with shrapnel and likely knock it clean out of the sky, or at least force an emergency landing.
  • The film makers also don't seem to realize that DC is ringed by patriot missile batteries, in the movie they admitted that the plane had no proper transponder codes so why did it take that long for somebody to send F-22's up, and when those got blown up (if they were going to shoot it down why not use radar guided missiles) why didn't dozens of patriot missiles take that plane out of the sky?
    • Because it would take far too much effort to research every single defensive system in place around Washington D.C. and then develop a way to circumvent each one, especially if the director or producers didn't really care how realistic anything is. As a disclaimer of sorts, I find it absurd that they'd think anyone would believe the capital of the most powerful nation in the world would be so poorly protected, but I guess that's what the writers figured suspension of disbelief was for.
  • How come the army didn't just walk in the front door and help Gerard Butler. The whole premise of Kang telling them to stay out or he'd kill hostages was defeated by the fact that they needed the Cerberus codes and he was killing hostages anyway as Butler was raising hell. This could have ended much sooner if the snipers just killed every terrorist they saw and and the army rushed the building. Sure some may have died, but it's less of a risk than flying six helicopters against a huge anti-air gun.
Even at the end, with all the terrorists dead, the shot President still had to walk from the bunker out the front door to get a medic.
Office SpaceHeadscratchers/FILMOz: The Great and Powerful

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