By: Akram Shaban
London Has Fallen is the sequel to 2013’s Olympus Has Fallen. It is based on the premise of a secret service agent rescuing the American president from a terrorist threat. It attempts to tell a story about loyalty, friendship, and pure badassery. Gerard Butler and Aaron Eckhart return as Agent Mike Banning and President Benjamin Asher respectively.
Morgan Freeman is now Vice President Trumbull, doing pretty much the same thing he did in the last movie. In fact, much of the supporting cast returns to fulfill the same roles. Angela Bassett is Director of the Secret Service Lynne Jacobs, and some of the department heads are brought back as well (the ones who survived the first one at least).
The plot is straight forward. The British Prime Minister dies and world leaders are invited to attend his funeral. It ends up being a trap, and a lot of people die…like A LOT. Also Big Ben blows up. But amongst the few who survive are the President and his best friend/bodyguard, Agent Banning. They have to fight through multiple life or death situations testing both characters physical endurance, and mental agility. They kill people. It is a movie about American heroes defending America with their American-ness. Murica! The success of the film, as you would think, hinges on how well it executes this idea. Unless it does anything stupid. Right before the screening, the theatre host asked us to think of something that would describe our experience near the end, in case we were approached by some promotional people. I was not interviewed, but just like Ice-Cube, I had somein’ to say.
In all honesty, I enjoyed the experience up until certain points. The acting was on par with typical action movies, blunt and straight to the point. The same can be said about the dry, somewhat witty humour which I like. The guy from 300 and Two-Face engage in snappy back and forth that makes for some funny one liners. It’s as if the movie is begging you not to take it seriously.
The action was fun. The infinitely complex, yet quite unbelievable, plan by the terrorists made Banning’s task that much more difficult, making for some entertaining action sequences. You could actually tell who was shooting who, and where the bullets were flying. The special ops scenes were particularly fun as well. You can probably say it’s what the Taken movies (at least the last two) should have been in terms of fight scenes; you need to be able to follow what’s happening.
But then came the “certain points.”
Speaking of Taken, someone loses his daughter in the movie, except permanently and it’s the supposed bad guy. I thought the story was about how some guy tries to get revenge on the President for killing his daughter on her wedding day. But then it turns into a fundamentalist terrorist killing spree. None of them even expressed any religious or politically motivated agenda. Yet that’s how they were painted. Some of the goons were white British police officers who were probably bribed. They surely did not look like they were committed to the righteous crusade of an extremist. Even if some of them were actual extremists with their own objectives in mind, they were still, above all, hired thugs. A notorious drug dealer would use his gang buddies in a similar situation. It doesn’t mean they’re advancing the fight in the ill-fated war on drugs.
It wasn’t without other flaws to redeem the catastrophic discourse either. The CGI was so bad it gave me heartburn. It could have been the BBQ chicken I ate before the screening. Either way, it was not pleasing. The supporting cast was just bad. It seemed like we’re supposed to invest in those characters or something. Very wholesome I guess.
Speaking of friendship, Asher and Banning present an interesting dynamic, with the convincing chemistry between them. But that’s not how presidents usually act (at least not the ones I’ve met because I’ve totally met a few) so it ended up looking more like two “bros” getting into trouble. Two badass bros, though.
Speaking of realism, there was none of it. Surely you’re supposed to suspend disbelief going into this genre of film. A lot of things, however, simply made no sense. But who cares about plot holes or inconsistency or lack of any logical cohesion in a mindless action film? So I’ll spare you that nonsense.
But one thing did come off as distasteful and totally misguided. The drone strike scenes were unnecessary as they tread on a difficult subject to handle properly. The movie mishandles them to say the least. Near the end, you see what appears to be civilians amongst terrorists getting caught in a blast that kills the main leader. The same happens in the beginning, except at a wedding. It fails to kill the target, and civilians die. The film recognises this as a problem in one scene (when the president admits to it). So it’s not like it lacks awareness about the issues of “collateral damage.” But that also means that there is no excuse to glorify such a thing and paint it as the moment of victory in the end. People still die and it’s nothing to celebrate.
London Has Fallen is mindless action fun, but falls apart everywhere else, especially in its lack of discretion regarding sensitive issues. It, therefore, receives a grade of F (3.5/10).