London Has Fallen — a review

Shall we start shooting in this direction, or that one?

Shall we start shooting in this direction, or that one?

Gerald Butler (“THIS! IS! SPARTA!”) returns as Mike Banning, the American Secret Service agent with a Scottish accent, in London Has Fallen. A sequel to Olympus Has Fallen, which showed the White House under siege by terrorists–most of whom were killed by Banning, usually single-handedly, in ’80s action film style–London Has Fallen presents a broader canvas as the legendary British city falls victim to an army of terrorists who have taken over. The President (Aaron Eckhart) is called to attend the funeral of the Prime Minister, who turns out to have been poisoned by the terrorists just so they could gather the world leaders at his funeral and kill them.

The Japanese Prime Minster is bombed on a bridge, the French PM is blown away in his private boat on the Thames, and there’s a mighty assassination attempt made on the American President on the steps of the church where the funeral services are being held. But Mike is there; yes, Mike Banning, whose very name sounds like a character from a cheesy pulp novel, is practically a one man army as he kills every terrorist with a single shot while they miss him completely–even with automatic weapons. It’s like watching a goofy ‘80s action movie, only without Chuck Norris to lob a few bad jokes along with the grenades.

I said I was first in line, ya stinking bastard!

I said I was first in line, ya stinking bastard!

When it becomes clear that terrorists have infiltrated the police and fire departments, London goes into lockdown as the authorities agree to remove their emergency services personnel, thus leaving only the bad guys for Mike to kill one by one as if it was all a live action video game–which is pretty much what this movie starts to feel like, anyway: a bad first person shooter game. The main problem is that the filmmakers care more about the devastation and explosions than explaining things.

Such as, with all emergency services suspended, what about the British civilians who need urgent medical assistance? Tough luck, kids; because saving the US president comes first–which is something that really doesn’t ring true. They’re capable of rescuing the President and saving civilians at the same time. But then again, we’re forced to accept Gerald (“THIS! IS! LONDON!”) Butler as an American secret service agent, Scottish accent and all, so I guess that’s how we’re rolling here.

While Olympus Has Fallen was just as silly, at least the filmmakers went out of their way to set up the premise in as realistic manner as possible, making it fun to watch. Here, we’re just supposed to believe that an army of terrorists have somehow sneaked into England and assumed various posts in the police and other emergency services without tipping off the vaunted British intelligence services. You can make a superior action film that doesn’t insult your intelligence, like The Hunt For Red October, or Ronin. But London Has Fallen can’t be bothered to aspire to be anything more than just a CGI-coated cartoon with way too many scenes of actors going “pew pew pew” with their guns. –SF