‘London Has Fallen’: A ridiculous mess of a film
Have you ever gotten so bored you decided to watch some obscure, low-budget action flick on Netflix? It might have a well-known star and perhaps an exciting premise, but the execution is terrible. These straight-to-DVD films tend to have subpar visual effects and dialogue straight out of an introduction to screenwriting class. “London Has Fallen,” a sequel to the 2013 film “Olympus Has Fallen,” is a glorified straight-to-DVD action flick — with A-list stars and professional visual effects — but the dialogue is still just as terrible.
Mike Banning (Gerard Butler, “300”) is still the top Secret Service guy protecting President Benjamin Asher (Aaron Eckhart, “The Dark Knight”). When the Prime Minister of the UK dies, all of the free-world leaders travel to London to attend the funeral. Enter a group of Pakistani terrorists with inexplicable access to every landmark and security force in London, and thus mass murder ensues against all the different free-world leaders from countries including Italy, Japan, Canada and France. The terrorists almost manage to kill President Asher, but thank our lucky stars and stripes that ace American hero Banning is there to save him. And so, the chase is on as the terrorists hunt Banning and Asher across London while the rest of the world seemingly does nothing, which makes no sense, given that a good chunk of first-world leaders are now dead and a major city has been attacked.
If you’ve seen “Olympus Has Fallen,” you kind of know what you’re in for: a ridiculous terrorist plot that somehow surpasses national security and the only thing that can stop them is King Leonidas the Secret Service agent. Like the first film, the major initial attack taking place in “London Has Fallen” is beyond the suspense of disbelief. What makes it even worse is that no one seems all that distraught. Sure, it puts a damper on everyone’s day, but the general reaction doesn’t come off nearly as baffling or fearful as anyone in the real world would react given that a major city has been attacked and, for whatever reason, terrorism countermeasures have taken the day off.
“Olympus Has Fallen” could be described as “Die Hard” in the White House. “London Has Fallen” is more like “Transformers” in London, but without the robots, making it a terrible movie with nothing but explosions galore. Westminster Abbey? Exploded! Tower Bridge? Destroyed! Big Ben? More like Big Boom! The film has iconic British sites fall apart without any impact on how horrifying the whole idea of this happening really is.
Beyond the ridiculous premise, the rest of the film is still terrible. Butler’s character is poorly written and directed with his dialogue and action scenes. His lines are horrendous — at one point, he tells a terrorist to go back to “F***head-istan.” He seems to have a strange penchant for brutally stabbing any terrorist he comes across up close. Even Eckhart’s Asher notices this after witnessing Butler slowly and mercilessly kill someone with his knife. “Was that really necessary?” he asks. Banning doesn’t seem to take this to heart, as he continues to take whatever chance he can to fight close quarters with his handy-dandy blade. Banning comes off as an overzealous, gung-ho, pure-bred, tough guy. It’s conflicting, since he’s supposed to be the hero we root for, yet his bizarre actions are off-putting. Yes, it’s good he’s protecting the President and yes, we would expect him to kill anyone who tries to harm the commander-in-chief, but it’s the style in which Banning does it that raises a red flag. He seems to enjoy it too much. It’s clear the film tries to paint him as the invincible, zinger-spouting action hero, but it doesn’t work. The world is falling apart around him and Asher, and he’s treating it like a playground to kill terrorists. His ridiculous actions throughout the film are beyond corny that it’s not even laughable. It’s as if the director Babak Najafi (“Banshee”) went back and forth on whether the film should be taken seriously, and so “London Has Fallen” is such a mess that it’s impossible to enjoy anything it has to offer.
Eckhart does a decent job portraying the only character who didn’t get the memo he’s in a terrible film, delivering as strong a performance as he can amongst the wreckage that is this movie.
Just about everything else.