London Has Fallen (2016)
Directed by: Babak Najafi
Written by: Chad St. John, Christian Gudegast, Creighton Rothenberger, Katrin Benedikt
Starring: Aaron Eckhart, Charlotte Riley, Gerard Butler, Morgan Freeman
IN CINEMAS NOW
RUNNING TIME: 99 min
REVIEWED BY: Dr Lenera, Official HCF Critic
Before he can submit his resignation from the Presidential Protection Division, Secret Serviceman Mike Banning is called back into action to escort President Benjamin Asher to London, after the British Prime Minister passes away. The funeral brings the leaders of dozens of countries together in one place, allowing international arms dealer Aamir Barkawi to initiate a scheme of mass terror. Destroying and occupying key landmarks across the British capital, Kamran Barkawi carries out his father’s orders to execute the gathered officials. With hundreds of enemy militants closing in around them, Banning and Asher must evade their pursuers and coordinate with Vice President Alan Trumbull in the U.S. to devise a plan to defeat the terrorists….
London Has Fallen is a movie that I wish I liked more than I did, and wished I could defend more than I am able to. Even more than its predecessor Olympus Has Fallen, there’s been much criticism of the film’s politics, even if it doesn’t really boast any politics worth considering aside from some amusingly stereotypical heads of state, and in particular its supposed xenophobia. One wonders if these people would only be happy with white villains, while I was actually pleased to finally see a modern film with Islamic terrorists that doesn’t make excuses for them, aside from one moment near the end which throws in a highly unnecessary partial reason for the actions of one of the lead bad guys. However, there’s no doubt that this is a substantially inferior effort to the original movie, which was not really a classic of its kind but still an enjoyable brutal action film of the old kind. Its relatively short running time is to be commended, and after the first twenty minutes it adopts a frantic pace that never lets up. Unfortunately, the scenes, which should by rights have been a little disturbing to this frequent visitor to England’s capital city, of parts of London being destroyed are just laughable due to astonishingly bad CGI which doesn’t look finished and really makes one wish for a return to the old ways of doing special effects, and what follows is partly sunk by bad dialogue which at times seems to be trying to be funny but is just funny because it’s rubbish, while Gerard Butler doesn’t seem to be taking his role seriously whatsoever what with his hammy performing and frequent moments where his Scottish accent comes through even though he’s supposed to be playing an American.
In fact the majority of the decent cast members just seem to be in it for the pay cheque, though director Babak Najafi handles the action rather well, keeping the depressingly familiar shakycam reasonably in check, delivering in particular a blistering car/bike chase which actually appears to use some real stunt people, and even showing some real style at times as in the first part of a gun battle shown entirely in just one take. Sadly the climax is almost thrown away [though this is an oddly common thing with current action movies], while, despite the film’s ‘R’ rating, the violence is somewhat toned down from the first movie and it looks like parts of the movie were shot in London and others in some Continental city. London Has Fallen isn’t really terrible, and at times it does deliver the goods for action lovers, but overall it’s a good example of a lazy, cash-in sequel which seems to have been made with little care and effort.