THE WORLD’S LEADERS HAVE ASSEMBLED. SO HAVE THEIR ENEMIES.
In London for the Prime Minister’s funeral, Mike Banning discovers a plot to assassinate all the attending world leaders.
I remember enjoying Olympus Has Fallen when I was able to catch it on Netflix a while back and so I decided to take advantage of the ½ price special offers at my local cinema to go and see the sequel, London Has Fallen, mainly because of the fact that we don’t get many straightforward 90’s style action movies anymore and too often they’re always set in America. To see a different location, albeit London, featured, was a relief, and whilst there are plenty of things wrong with London Has Fallen, it is by no means the worst movie of the first couple of months of the year and is a mostly fun, if forgettable ride.
I went in expecting a big dumb action movie and I got a big dumb action movie. For starters, the premise is implausible, there’s no way that the majority of the world’s leaders would come to London for the Prime Minister’s funeral, especially not at the same time. But we have our set-up for the film and it’s when disaster strikes that several world leaders are executed in different fashions. The French President on a boat via a bomb. The German Chancellor by undercover Queen’s Guard outside Buckingham Palace. The Italian President on a guided tour of a famous London landmark. The dominos start falling as a carefully planned attack sends London into chaos, as the world watches. Only one World Leader it seems was able to survive, and that’s the American President, Benjamin Asher (Aaron Eckhart), thanks to the help of his fellow secret service agent, Mike Banning (Gerard Butler). Soon enough both Asher and Banning find themselves alone and one the run, with London turned into a warzone.
The action is fun and if Olympus Has Fallen was Die-Hard in the White House then London Has Fallen is Die-Hard in London. Its special effects may be cheap and there are several noticeable unrealistic moments, lacking the impact that they need to and breaking the illusion, but the action on the ground is able to make up for it. After a slow opening act the film picks up when everything plunges into chaos, and it never slows down. With a shorter running time than the first one director Babak Najafi handles the action well, even if the decision to cast a lot of unknowns in the roles of the villains means that they’re weak, cookie-cutter and practically interchangeable with the equally forgettable opposition from the first. The same again can be said about Mike Banning and President Asher, they’re one-dimensional characters that don’t get a lot of character development at all apart from a couple of minor scenes. It’s all about the action in London Has Fallen, and the action is actually pretty decent, but then, you wouldn’t expect anything less from a director who has handled a couple of episodes of Banshee in the past, which is probably one of the most violent and action-packed series on television.
The supporting cast is wasted unfortunately with Morgan Freeman returning for little over 15 minutes and spends most of that time sitting behind a desk. There’s also Colin Salmon who is underused in his role as head of the MI5, and a bunch of other secondary actors who don’t get the attention that they deserve. But then this was always going to be Banning and Asher’s movie, and the chemistry between Eckhart and Butler is great, with some witty back and forth banter between the two throughout the film.
London Has Fallen is dumb, heavy handed and action packed. However it has just about enough juice to not bore the audience, even if there are plenty of predictable moments. If you go in with low expectations and want a old fashioned, Die-Hard style movie then this should be right up your street. Don’t go out of your way to see it and much like the first film, it’s probably best to wait until it shows up on Netflix.