Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
Stop me if you've heard this one: A reluctant hero, on the verge of retirement and with a baby on the way, is sucked into a major, catastrophic revenge plot by a Middle-Eastern villain, who had been thought to be dead. This hero is bullet-proof and invincible: Smarter, faster, stronger than any other man on the planet. This man might as well be America, or more accurately, he embodies what Americans think of themselves when in the global arena. Yes, London Has Fallen (opening today) is every action movie that ever was, and that ever will be. Is it any good? Does that even matter, if it serves to remind us just how bad-ass we are?
In name and spirit, this is a sequel to the modest-surprise-2013-hit, Olympus Has Fallen, which was one of two movies that year (the other being White House Down) dealing with a terrorist invasion of the White House. To the first film's credit, it began by making us care about these characters and took time that few other action movies do to get us invested in them. There was President Asher (Aaron Eckhart, where have you been?) and his trusted friend and Secret Service soldier Mike Banning (Gerard Butler). Vice President Trumball (Morgan Freeman) and Secret Service Director Lynn Jacobs (Angela Bassett) were also involved in the plot against America that nearly overthrew our government. Of course Mike Banning is cut from a very specific red, white and blue cloth, channeling heroes of movies past like Dirty Harry, James Bond, John McClane or anybody else that John Wayne ever played. He saved the day the first time around. So what could possibly go wrong when all of the world leaders assemble in London for the funeral of the English Prime Minister?
Olympus Has Fallen had enough funny one-liners to consider itself an action-comedy, and Banning hasn't lost his touch for comedic timing this time around either. The major improvement over the first film is that there are actually some really great action sequences in London Has Fallen, where as last time it felt very redundant on that front. But as for the plot? Sweet Lord, kill me now.
When #6 on the Most Wanted List, Aamir Barkawi (Alon Aboutboul) launches an attack on all of the world's leaders, only President Asher escapes, with help of course from Banning. Barkawi's plot involves so many guns, rocket launchers, and man-power, it leads one character to claim, "They must have been plotting this for months!" If only the script had been given such attention. Part of the attack feeds our current-day fears of "the enemy being among us", as several of the terrorists in the film pose as law enforcement officers. There are COUNTLESS bad guys that just continue to pop up as target practice for Banning. Of course, the film never explains how all of this could have happened, other than to go to the action-cliche grab-bag one more time, telling us that well of course!! It's because there was a mole in the British government!
Well even a mole couldn't pull off what is shown in London Has Fallen. For every impressive action sequence - like a helicopter chase sequence - there is a totally lame, unbelievable occurrence - like when the President and Banning survive said helicopter crash. It's one thing to suspend disbelief, but London Has Fallen suspends, chokes and breaks the neck of disbelief.
Sadly misused is Morgan Freeman and pretty much everybody else besides Eckhart and Butler. What the heck is Jackie Earle Haley, Melissa Leo and Robert Forster doing in this movie? But critiques aside, this could be the movie America wants right now: It has a brash, blow-hard calling the shots, doing things his way, and saying what needs to be said with a confident bluntness...living in a fictitious world where he is impervious to the consequences of his actions and always knows best. Sound familiar? The difference is that it's only funny when you know it's fictitious.
Genre: Action, Thriller
Run Time: 1 hour, 39 minutes, Rated R
Starring: Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Morgan Freeman, Alon Aboutboul, Waleed Zuaiter
Directed by Babak Najafi (Easy Money II: Hard to Kill, Sebbe)
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