London Has Fallen Review: A Tale of Blood, Bombs & Punchlines
London Has Fallen is an absurd, bloody action romp that plays like a B-movie. The sequel to Olympus Has Fallen brings back the entire original cast in a plot as fantastical as science fiction. This isn't a completely negative thing as the film does have entertainment value. Gerard Butler is a one-man killing machine; cutting down hordes of terrorists while zinging one-liners and dropping F-bombs. He never misses. Butler takes head shots like popping zits. I'm also fairly certain he owns the record for stabbing bad guys in the neck. The good guys take their lumps as well. World leaders, London, and the entire British security apparatus get beaten like an illiterate kid at a spelling bee. Thank goodness the Americans are there to save to the day.
London Has Fallen opens with a U.S. drone destroying the family gathering of a powerful arms dealer, Aamir Barkawi (Alon Aboutboul). Two years later, the British Prime Minister dies unexpectedly during a routine surgery. World leaders hastily arrange trips to London to attend the funeral. The timing scuttles the impending resignation of Secret Service Agent Mike Banning (Gerard Butler). His wife (Radha Mitchell) is about to give birth to their first child. Duty always coming first, Banning leads President Asher's (Aaron Eckhart) security detail to the funeral.
The U.S. Presidential motorcade is ambushed at the cathedral. Simultaneously, powerful explosions rock London as famous landmarks are destroyed. Electricity, phones, the internet, and London's famed closed circuit television system fail under sabotage. World leaders are killed one by one in elaborate executions. The city grinds to a halt as dozens of imbedded terrorists strike. Leaving Banning to once again secure the President, while helping the U.S. and British government uncover the mastermind behind the siege.
Let's start with the good. London Has Fallen works as a pure action movie. It's an unrelenting bloodbath with innocents and villains dropping like flies every minute. Gerard Butler is akin to classic Schwarzenegger in the eighties, a human buzz saw; mowing down baddies with deft precision and sarcasm. Some of the dialogue in these scenes had me howling with laughter. He kills with knives, bullets, and wit. It's cheesy as hell, but actually works. Butler has immense presence in the proper element. He looked foolish in the terrible Gods of Egypt, but redeems his bravado with gusto here.
The plot for London Has fallen is ludicrous. It may also come off as insulting to global audiences. The British homeland security system, arguably the best in the world, is portrayed as bumbling and easily compromised. The idea that dozens of terrorists could infiltrate England. Kill world leaders with impunity. Then decimate hallowed British landmarks with MI5 and MI6 clueless is completely unbelievable. Of course all of the terrorists are generic Middle Easterners. There's no religion, just vengeance, as their motivation, but it's all so generic. It would have been much more realistic to have the British be able partners in resolving the crisis. I'm as gung ho as anyone rooting for America to kick ass and take names, but it's a little irresponsible to have everyone else so inept.
London Has Fallen isn't as good as the original, but not a terrible film either. It's a passable, brainless action flick. Gerard Butler is outstanding as Mike Banning. This is a character I would like to see again under different circumstances. The producers need to change the plot structure. Banning has proven he can save the president from terrorists. Give him someone else to rescue, just keep the one-liners, head shots, and neck stabbing coming.