“London Has Fallen”
In London for the Prime Minister’s funeral, Mike Banning discovers a plot to assassinate all the attending world leaders.
Written by: Creighton Rothenberger, Katrin Benedikt, Chad St. John
Directed by: Babak Najafi
Cast: Gerard Butler, Morgan Freeman, Charlotte Riley, Angela Bassett, Radha Mitchell, Aaron Eckhart, Jackie Earle Haley, Melissa Leo
In 2013’s Olympus Has Fallen, Gerard Butler had to infiltrate the White House after North Korean terrorists attacked and seized it, along with the President (Eckhart) and his staff in an attempt to deploy a secret doomsday-type weapon the US had developed. It was released up against another President-in-peril film, White House Down.
Olympus Has Fallen did better with the fans and at the box office, and now we get the inevitable sequel. But this time, exactly as happened with Fallen’s spiritual father, Die Hard, the sequel takes the action out of the building and into a wider arena.
This time around, Secret Service Agent Mike Banning (Butler) is in London with the President when a terrorist attack claims the lives of numerous world leaders and results in the President being taken hostage, with the promise of live-streaming his execution for the world to see.
Directed by Babak Najafi, whose IMDB credits are mostly shorts, along with a couple of TV episodes, takes on a big task in following up the original.
**SPOILERS AHEAD**Okay, so this movie is a bit more than the standard, blow ’em up action movie.
Oh, there’s plenty of that. The entire first 2/3 of the film is pretty much what you’d expect from a film like this: drone strike to kill a terrorist hits his daughter’s wedding. He lives, vows revenge, world leaders get jacked up.
But then, after the mighty Banning has kept the President alive through countless inescapable scenarios, he finally loses him to the terrorists just as it seems they might reach friendly ground.
Then, during the assault on the terrorist HQ in downtown London, the film goes all Air Force One on us. Just as the lead terrorist’s son (daddy is safely tucked away in some Afghan shit-hole) is about to behead the President while live-streaming the event to the world, Banning breaks in, shoots everyone, and gets into hand-to-hand with the son.
As Banning repeatedly beating the crap out him, he launches into an uber-patriotic soliloquy about how people like the terrorists have been trying to kill people like Americans forever, but that a thousand years from now, “we’ll still be here.”
Why? Because America isn’t a building, or plane, or just one man, that’s why.
Pretty ironic, really, coming from one man beating the crap out of a terrorist.
Regardless, obviously the good guys win (duh), and Mike goes home to his wife and new baby, while big bad terrorist gets another Hellfire dropped on his location.
Clearly, the writers and director had some larger goals in mind when they put London Has Fallen together, and some people might say that it isn’t the kind of movie to put out in this political climate.
I disagree. It addresses the idea of foreign nationals, radicalization, the idea of how difficult it is to determine who is and who isn’t trying to kill us, what their motives are, and–and this is important, so pay attention–what methods they might use to strike.
I’m not saying that a coordinated assault on the scale of London Has Fallen is just around the corner, but the idea that “collateral damage” means nothing to those who would do us harm is a totally realistic point of view to have, having been evidenced again and again across the globe, and therefore no tactic, however barbaric it might seem to us, is off the table for us to consider being used against us.
I could go on and on, arguing political points, but that’s not what a movie review is supposed to be about, so I won’t. Instead, I’ll leave you with this:
Look, if you like action movies, this one has all the action you could want, and then some. If you disagree with the world-view that I identified in the movie, but can look beyond that, then you’ll still enjoy the movie.
If you like action movies, but can’t look beyond a viewpoint that you disagree with, then go watch something else.
Honestly, if they pulled that dialogue out, it wouldn’t change the pace or flow of the movie, so I’m actually surprised it made it through the studio system and out into a test audience. The movie would still be a solid actioner, and worth watching.
Me? I liked it, far more than I thought I would.
And I thought I would.