London Has Fallen

Looks like the terrorists have taken “London Bridge Is Falling Down” to the extreme. Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart and Academy Award winner Morgan Freeman star in London Has Fallen.

London Has FallenCast of Characters:
Mike Banning – Gerard Butler
President Benjamin Asher – Aaron Eckhart
Vice President Allan Trumbull – Morgan Freeman
Aamir Barkawi – Alon Moni Aboutboul
Lynne Jacobs – Angela Bassett
Gen. Edward Clegg – Robert Forster
DC Mason – Jackie Earle Haley
Ruth McMillan – Melissa Leo
Leah Banning – Radha Mitchell
Ray Monroe – Sean O’Bryan
Kamran Barkawi – Waleed Zuaiter

Director – Babak Najafi
Screenplay – Creighton Rothenberger, Katrin Benedikt, Christian Gudegast & Chad St. John
Producer – Gerard Butler, Alan Siegel, Mark Gill, Danny Lerner, Matt O’Toole & Les Weldon
Rated R for strong violence and language throughout

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Following the death of the British prime minister, the world leaders gather in London to attend his funeral, among them U.S. President Benjamin Asher (Aaron Eckhart), Secret Service Director Lynne Jacobs (Angela Bassett) and Asher’s top Secret Service agent, Mike Banning (Gerard Butler), who’s just on the cusp of retiring to settle down with his pregnant wife Leh (Radha Mitchell), but sequels be damned if they let that happen.

Everything seems to be going fine and dandy for the dignitaries – or as fine and dandy as a funeral can be – but everyone finds themselves under attack by the vengeful terrorist Aamir Barkawi (Alon Moni Aboutboul). Barkawi manages to turn London into a parking lot and kick practically every world leader’s ass out of this galaxy, except for President Asher’s ’cause ‘Murrica! However, it’s not exactly smooth sailing for Asher and Banning as they are now on the run from the terrorists.

But they won’t be going down without a fight ’cause they’re here in London to chew bubblegum and kick ass.

And they’re all out of bubblegum.

Cue Chuck Norris commandeering a majestic bald eagle to Saliva’s “Badass” now.

2013 was the year for White House takeovers and presidential hostages. First came Olympus Has Fallen, then later on that summer, its retarded clone White House Down, which somehow managed to make the mediocre former film look like Die Hard, crapped all over theater screens across the world. We can debate all day which one is better, but at the end of the day, how many of us were really clamoring to see the secret service fuck up so bad once again?

I get it, this is one of those “you only have one job” type films – just deliver the action entertain the crowds and all will be well. Babak Najafi does fashion together a couple of decent action setpieces (not counting a helicopter crash that is so obviously CGI it’d embarrass even Syfy); however the film can’t escape two glaring problems. One, there may be a few effective action sequences, but they’re few and far between. They’ll keep you awake at the bare minimum to notice them, but unfortunately, there are not enough thrills to distract you from the number of insanely ludicrous plot turns that your mind will ultimately be focused on since the film’s not able to bring the goods in the action department. I mean, if one man can dupe as many world leaders as this film’s baddie is so effortlessly able to do, we should all just give up and kiss our asses goodbye.

Then there’s second issue. This is basically Olympus Has Fallen all over again, except this time the terrorists are Pakistani and not Korean ’cause that minor change is supposed to make it all look fresh. A forgivable flaw if the film still delivered some excitement, yes, but alas, it just wasn’t meant to be.

That means either the screenwriters (all four, yes, that’s FOUR) need to be fired, or President Asher needs to be extremely more selective in his Secret Service hiring process.

Aaron Eckhart and Gerard Butler are more than capable leading men, but they’re both stuck on autopilot. Not just any autopilot either, we’re talking Bruce Willis level of snoozing through a performance. Eckhart’s charm and stoic presence is very much suitable for the role of a president, but I’ve seen planks of old, splintered wood with more energy than he shows here. Butler has been able to play the machismo leading action hero role in his sleep since he first wowed American audiences as Leonidas in 300, but it’s so clear he’s going through the motions from beginning to end that him performing in his sleep might be more literal here than you might think.

Plus, between this and February’s Gods of Egypt, Butler’s got two swing-and-a-miss strikes not only in the same year, but in the span of a week. These aren’t just questionable, check the replay strikes either. They’re Butler just whiffed and corkscrewed himself into the ground strikes.

As for the supporting cast, there’s not much to say. I know, how often are you gonna see award-level talent like Morgan Freeman, Angela Bassett, Jackie Earle Haley, Robert Forster and Melissa Leo flock together into one scene? Well, don’t let that long list of Oscar winners and nominees fool you. They’re just here to gasp in shock, open their eyes wide in terror and say lines like “Oh… my… God!”, “You’ll never get away with this, terrorists!” and everyone’s favorite, “… God help us.” Then, once they’re done expending all that hard work and effort in phoning it in for the day, they collect their fat paychecks and dance all the way to the bank.

Well… unless your Radha Mitchell. Then you get to showcase your talent acting pregnant and worried for pretty much the entire film… and then when you’re done sighing and longing and pining for the love of your life who’s busy risking his life overseas, you collect your fat paycheck and dance all the way to the bank.

“Money, money, money… MOOOONEY!!!!”

Like its predecessor, London Has Fallen features a talented cast and a handful of solidly staged action setpieces, but also like its predecessor and then some, the film doubles down on wasting said cast and adrenaline raising highlights on a never-ending string of dopey jokes and a beyond ludicrous plot. Here’s hoping President Asher’s secret service shapes up so a third trip down “________ Has Fallen” can be avoided.

I give London Has Fallen a D (★).

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