London Has Fallen is the sequel to 2013’s Olympus Has Fallen and Gerard Butler returns as Secret Service Agent Mike Banning protecting President Benjamin Asher (Aaron Eckhart). When the Prime Minister of England dies, all of the Heads of State converge on London for the funeral and before you know it London is under siege by terrorists. It is a series of well coordinated attacks to take out as many of the Heads of State as they can lead by international terrorist Aamir Barkawi (Alon Aboutbol). Their main object is to kidnap President Asher, in the confusion and to kill him on live TV. Why they really need to blow up half of London to kidnap one man is beyond me, but okay, this is just a movie. I will accept the premise on face value.
I was not the biggest fan of Olympus Has Fallen even though it was directed by an extremely talented director, Antoine Fuqua. Both films play like the buddy/action films from the 80’s but not very good ones. Two problems are Gerard Butler and Aaron Eckhart. These are two very capable actors and have done some great work in the past. But as with Olympus and now London, they have very little chemistry and so any dialogue they banter with falls flat, especially with dialogue that is supposed to be tongue in cheek. Disposable one liners meant to be humorous, simply aren’t. It is not entirely their fault. The scripts are empty and unproductive in which characters come and go and don’t have a lot to do. Creighton Rothenberger and Katrin Benedikt, who penned the first film, have enlisted the help of Christian Gudegast and Chad St. John to write this script and even with two extra hands, they have not faired much better.
London Has Fallen is in such a hurry to get to the mind numbing action that it only touches on the lead characters and their lives just briefly. Banning’s wife, Leah (Radha Mitchell) is pregnant and they go through the usual motions about the baby’s room, what color to paint the room and such. There is a brief scene in which Mike has installed SIX cameras in the baby’s room which is supposed to be funny, but induced an eye rolling groan from me. “I’ll be back in time for the baby,” Mike tells a scared Leah. Yeah, whatever, dude. Radha Mitchell is such a terrific actress and they have wasted her in a role that any woman off of the street could have played. She is simply “the girl”.
Every scene in London Has Fallen is simply assembly line film making. The baddie is bad enough but I never had the feeling he was going to get the better of either of our heroes. Again, he is simply there to service the plot and not much else. He is given very little personality so I never felt threatened by his character. The action is decent enough and I did think the film makers did a good job of showing London under siege. It is shot well and edited efficiently. It cuts back and forth and gets some energy generated to the plot, before it settles back down to autopilot in which Banning and Asher are chased all over London. As in the first film, Banning NEVER misses a shot (just about) and the baddies could not hit the broad side of a barn. Butler and Eckhart do what the roles require but that is all. They are not stretching, for sure.
London Has Fallen (and Olympus, for that matter) is harmless enough. Action junkies will like the endless shootouts and explosions, but I never felt the leads were in any real danger even when half of London is a smoldering pile of cinders. Angela Bassett and Morgan Freeman are also wasted in thankless roles as part of Asher’s administration. Bassett is the President’s Chief of Staff and…surprise! She also is going to be Godmother of the Banning’s child. You can guess what happens to her. Also, another eye roller from me. Bassett is such a talent and again, wasted in a role that is never developed, at all. Freeman as Vice President Trumball, is relegated to staring at a TV screen looking befuddled. Another great actor turned into a check casher. Anyone could have played these characters. Trevor Morris returns, however, with a rousing score as he did for Olympus Has Fallen, as well. These are two scores worth purchasing.
There is not much that goes on in London Has Fallen that has not been done before, so you know what to expect. Relative newcomer director Babak Najafi is competent enough to direct the action and knows how and where frame shots, but without a good script, London Has Fallen flounders around and becomes tedious stranding a great cast on the island of mediocrity.
London Has Fallen – **3/4 out of 5
London Has Fallen – Rated R for language, violence and gore
London Has Fallen – Run Time is 99 minutes
London Has Fallen is now available on DVD and On Demand