London has Fallen is the sequel to 2013's moderately successful Olympus has Fallen and sees secret service agent Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) on the verge of retirement after a number of years spent successfully protecting President Benjamin Asher (Aaron Eckheart). Mike is now expecting his first child and is on good terms with President Asher after their wounds have healed since the events of Olympus has Fallen, both physical and emotional, decisions have been forgiven. Before Mike has a chance to tender his resignation he's called away to protect President Asher on a short notice trip to London for the funeral of the Prime Minister of Britain. All of the world's major leaders are in attendance and serves as the perfect opportunity for some revenge driven terrorists to launch an attack on an unprecedented level. Mike and President Asher find themselves in hostile territory and hunted by a slew of terrorists as they attempt to flee a city that's been lock-downed by a small, determined and selfless army.
London has Fallen contrasts Olympus has Fallen in a lot of ways, especially as far as the character dynamics go. Mike and President Benjamin Asher spend most of the movie together on the run, while they spent the majority of Olympus has Fallen apart and on bad terms with each other. That enmity between the two of them is gone now and their rapport is enjoyable when they do get a brief chance to relax. Lynne Jacobs (Angela Bassett) returns as the Director of the Secret Service and shines in her role, the Secretary of Defense Ruth McMillan (Melissa Leo) who I'm sure would bleed blue, white and red returns as well. Vice President Trumbull (Morgan Freeman) also makes a welcome return as the capable, level-headed and ever resilient VP. Pretty much everyone returns from the original, there were no recasts either, which helps adds a lot of familiarity, growth and strength to a particularly tumultuous two terms in the White House of President Basher where everyone has been tested in one way or another.
The humor has been upped a little bit, going for a more facetious approach, which I liked as it avoided the more serious and earnest jingoism of the original. The action was uneven, but was about as realistic as Olympus has Fallen was. I don't think they went over the top or silly with the action. However the cgi was good in some parts but extremely poor in other parts, especially during the helicopter crash, it reminded me of Skyfall. London has Fallen had an extra $30 million to play with than Olympus has Fallen had, but it didn't look like it. I understand that the movie was much bigger in scope and ambition than its predecessor was so they had to stretch that budget out a bit, but I'm only really nitpicking one or maybe two scenes. There was one very impressive long-take of a shootout as well, that deserves a mention. The choreography, the timing of the squibs, the movement of the camera, the attention to detail, it was all done remarkably well.
I read two of the 'major reviews' for London has Fallen before I saw it and I do find it odd how and why this movie has been criticized. Mike is now a xenophobe, why? Because he doesn't like the people who are trying to kill him, he throws no racial epithets either. The other major criticism is the use of 'brown people' as terrorists. Apparently terrorists can only be Asians, Russians and homegrown to get the seal of approval nowadays. Never mind the fact that the dreaded words of "Islam", "Muslim" or "Jihad" are never even muttered once throughout the movie, nor is any indication given as to what their personal beliefs were. Sure, Aamir Barkawi (Alon Aboutboul) is hiding out in Pakistan at one point, but we're never led to believe that he was motivated by religious piety, just plain old revenge. Aamir was a bad guy, in the Top 10 Most Wanted, the US got a tip of his location and sent a drone in not knowing that his family was present. People are going to gleam any sort of political message they want out of this movie, but this is an action movie, it's Die Hard for the 21st century, it's not a political analysis of the ramifications of drone warfare.
London has Fallen was admittedly inconsistent in some respects, but it always felt suspenseful, thrilling and involving. I was never bored watching London has Fallen and that's all I really ask from a movie, just don't bore me. It wasn't a groundbreaking movie by any standard, but it was compelling enough that it held my attention and allowed me to overlook some of the rougher components of the movie while leaving feeling satisfied. The sentiments of patriotism was handled well, though no doubt some people will find London has Fallen heavy-handed or look at it through a political lens, but I think it was less 'politically motivated' than Olympus has Fallen was, if at all. It's just an action movie folks, and an entertaining one at that.
Written by - The Sentry - 03/03/2016