UK Release Date: 3rd March 2016
Runtime: 99 minutes
Director: Babak Najafi
Writer: Creighton Rothenberger, Katrin Benedikt, Christian Gudegast, Chad St John
Starring: Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Morgan Freeman, Radha Mitchell, Alon Moni Aboutboul, Charlotte Riley
Synopsis: A terrorist attack at a global gathering in London puts the US President in grave danger as he is targeted by a murderous group of assailants.
Back in 2012, a pair of action movies focused on the central premise of an attack on the White House. The less entertaining of those films, Olympus Has Fallen, has now got itself a sequel with the British-set London Has Fallen. Despite being set on these shores, there’s no mistaking this as a film that provides just another excuse for American cinema to hoist the stars and stripes, wave it about a bit and shoot some terrorists in the head.
Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) is considering resignation from his role as one of the main Secret Service operatives assigned to protect President Benjamin Asher (Aaron Eckhart) as he is expecting a child with his wife Leah (Radha Mitchell). However, after the sudden death of the Prime Minister, the world’s leaders gather in London for a memorial service. When terrorists pull off an explosive attack that has the streets of the UK covered in blood, Mike must use all of his training to keep his President safe, whilst Vice President Allan Trumbull (Morgan Freeman) watches nervously from Washington.
London Has Fallen is, first and foremost, a terrible movie. It isn’t just a badly made work of cinema, but it’s also one that seems to have been made with utter cynical contempt for its own audience. Everything about Babak Najafi’s film is cheap – in both the creative and financial sense of that word. The plot is the worst kind of lazy, xenophobic nonsense and everything about the film’s look raises questions as to where the reported budget of $60m actually went. This is particularly obvious in the scenes of London’s landmarks being destroyed, which is rendered with the kind of pitiful CGI that wouldn’t be out of place in one of the older, crappier episodes of Doctor Who.
People like you have been trying to kill us for a long time. But a hundred years from now, we’ll still fucking be here.
There’s a whiff of something deeply unpleasant that surrounds every frame of London Has Fallen. It’s a film that takes the kind of flag-waving American stance that probably should have been wiped out when Matt Stone and Trey Parker skewered it so brilliantly more than a decade ago in Team America: World Police. In fact, when Mark Kermode described London Has Fallen as being Team America without the jokes, he pretty much hit the nail squarely on the head. This is a world of black and white where violence is perfectly okay, as long as the people dealing it out are white Americans.
Gerard Butler, in the lead role, is the standard gruff, red-blooded American male. In an early scene, he describes himself as being composed of “Bourbon and poor choices”, which says pretty much everything anyone needs to know about him. He’s the standard cipher for gung-ho Americana, complete with bellowed warnings that the terrorists should go back to “Fuckheadistan”. If Donald Trump were ever going to fund a movie, it’s likely that the result would be almost identical to London Has Fallen.
The film is entirely uninterested in every character in the film, with the exception of Butler and Aaron Eckhart as the President. Any digression from the lives of these two characters is fleeting and soon glossed over, ridding the film of any semblance of depth and world building. The President is the only focus, even as an entire capital city falls apart in the background, leading to thousands of civilian deaths that barely even warrant a mention in the script barring a couple of truly ham-fisted lines of dialogue.
London is just the first stop. Just imagine every major city descending into chaos.
It’s almost wrong to get angry about London Has Fallen because that would require giving it attention that it does not deserve. This is a film made with the cynical knowledge that the finished product didn’t have to be any good to put bums on seats. It’s a movie that expends the minimum amount of effort and energy to produce a plodding movie that features boring action sequences, charisma-free performances and some of the worst effects work ever committed to cinema.
America… fuck yeah?
Pop or Poop?
Babak Najafi goes through the motions in the most cynical way imaginable with London Has Fallen, which is certainly the laziest film of 2016 so far, if not quite the worst. Gerard Butler shouts for an hour and a half, stuff blows up and racially-themed abuse is at the top of the agenda. If there’s any justice, there won’t be a threequel.
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.