London Has Fallen review: A fun afternoon escape, nothing more
At The Movies
LONDON HAS FALLEN
* * 1/2 (B-)
Directed By Babak Najafi
Starring Gerard Butler, Morgan Freeman, Aaron Eckhart, Angela Bassett, Radha Mitchell, Charlotte Riley, Melissa Leo
Focus Features, Rated R, Action, 99 minutes
The formula is simple. Take one fit and fabulous-looking United States President (Aaron Eckhart), team him with an even more fit and fabulous-looking Secret Service Agent (Gerard Butler), then dump the pair into a mixing bowl (London will do nicely), filled with heavily armed, terrorists determined to execute the president on camera — Jihad style.
And what prompts the attack? Here it’s a revenge plot for the drone bombing of a Middle Eastern arms dealer’s compound. He survives, but his beautiful daughter is killed, and his handsome son is maimed.
Played by Alon Moni Aboutboul, the gray-suited villain spouts commercial-ready lines like “Vengeance must always be profound and absolute” — lines that will have you scanning the screen for a bottle of imported vodka.
It’s two years since that fateful drone attack and four years since “Olympus Has Fallen,” the latter in reference to the last time we saw Secret Service Agent Mike Banning (Butler).
He was the only agent standing after terrorists took control of the White House and kidnapped the president. Naturally, it was up to Banning to effect a rescue.
Returning for this sequel as best buds, the pair continues to bond during their DC jogging sessions. Afterwards, Banning goes home to his wife (Radha Mitchell), heavily pregnant with their first child, and secretly struggles with whether to submit his letter of resignation.
The plot treats its Middle Eastern terrorists as cartoon cutouts, and its Western heroes fare no better. One wonders where the arms dealer found enough time to heal from his physical wounds, then assassinate the British Prime Minister, all while placing hundreds of terrorists in London wearing British police and Buckingham Palace Guard uniforms — each equipped with AK 47s or shoulder-launched rockets.
Likewise, when did our government become so slipshod as to allow our president to attend the a head of state’s funeral (along with 40 other world leaders), with only a day’s notice and under iffy security conditions?
Such ludicrous plot machinations aside, the fun is that it all results in the destruction of every familiar London landmark while causing Banning and the president to play cat and mouse with an army of pursuers.
Movies such as this function as surreal nightmares, driving up your heart rate by sustaining a prolonged threat that requires the hero to react at lightning speed.
Loaded with clunky dialog, stereotypes, and Rah-Rahing of the American way, no one can accuse “London Has Fallen” of being a good movie, but you can accuse it of being good escapist fun because it never pretends to be more than a Saturday afternoon diversion.
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