Gerard Butler is back as tough-as-nails secret service agent Mike Banning, protector and best friend of U.S. President Ben Asher (Aaron Eckhart). After a massive, impeccably orchestrated terror attack in London leads to the assassination of nearly every world leader, it’s up to our hero to protect and defend the President at all costs. If this “Die Hard” style plot excites you, keep reading: you are the target audience for this preposterous yet entertaining film.
“London Has Fallen” is full of so many plot holes that I lost count at well over a dozen, and many of the situations that our heroes face are unquestionably absurd. Some of the one-liners are cringe-worthy, yet they are delivered with aplomb. The special effects are laughably dismal; I’m talking some of the worst I have ever seen in any disaster movie, period. I laughed out loud at some of them, most notably the scene where the Tower Bridge in London is bombed and it gradually falls apart. It’s a master class in terrible computer-generated animation (CGI).
But is any of this really worth criticizing? This movie never promises to change the world and it doesn’t hold itself out as one of the highest examples of the art form: it’s a satisfying, old-fashioned action flick and it delivers! You’ll quickly find that all suspension of disbelief is easy because it’s such an overstuffed bag of boisterous fun. This hard-R rated movie is an energetic commotion of blood soaked violence. Like its predecessor “Olympus Has Fallen,” it is also elevated with some truly touching dramatic elements, earnest performances from a very talented supporting cast (Angela Bassett, Morgan Freeman, and Melissa Leo), and plenty of edge-of-your-seat nail biting excitement. The violence on display is brutal and bloody: we get scene after scene of creative kills as the good guys wipe out the terrorist thugs one by one.
I have been criticizing Gerard Butler a lot lately (most notably for his poor choices in acting roles, including his recent performance in “Gods of Egypt“), but this tough secret service agent who is made of “bourbon and poor choices” is the role I would love to see him play forever. He’s perfect in the part and his rapport with Eckhart is credible and engaging. It was great to see him back in action and kicking ass. Of course his character breezes through the most dire of situations with nary a scratch so he’s also one lucky SOB.
A lot of people have criticized the movie for being “racist” against Arabs. I say the complainers are nothing more than victims of the hyper-politically correct environment that’s currently controlling our society. A fictional movie needs good guys and bad guys. To these folks I say: Get over yourself. This is a fictional piece of entertainment!
I think you already know if you are the target audience for this film and if you are, you will not leave the theater disappointed.
“London Has Fallen” is the cinematic equivalent of junk food: there’s not much substance and you feel guilty enjoying it, but in a single serving, it’s oh-so-satisfying.
I enjoyed the hell out of the first movie in this series, “Olympus Has Fallen,” and as a sequel, this one lives up to its predecessor. It’s a bit slow out of the gate — there is a little too much focus on the personal life of Gerard Butler’s character, Mike Banning, and on the reason why Banning and President Asher (Aaron Eckart) are in London — but when it starts rolling, the momentum stays consistently strong throughout. As in the first film, the relationship between President Asher and Banning is a convincing one, and their reactions to the imminent peril they are facing are believable, for the most part.
That’s not to say that this movie is built on a strong foundation of logic — it’s not. You absolutely need to be willing to suspend disbelief in a BIG way to enjoy “London Has Fallen.” The manner in which the terrorists are able to attack the capital city, their apparent omnipresence on the city streets, and the lack of a credible and appropriate response from a British government that has seen their largest city fall victim to a massive and coordinated attack are all plot points that you will have to just accept at face value.
If you’re able to go with it, you’ll have a good time watching this movie. There are some nice moments that effectively use its “R” rating without being over-the-top in either gore or violence. There are plenty of fun (if not particularly inventive) ways that we get to see the bad guys get their comeuppance. Butler makes for a likable action hero in Banning, and his single-minded focus on keeping the President safe and secure is sympathetic and compelling. There are plenty of moments to cheer here, and really, that’s all I ever hope for when I go to see a movie like this one.
For what it is and what it’s supposed to do, “London Has Fallen” does the job very well, which makes for a fun night at the movies.