Title: London Has Fallen (2016)
Director: Babak Najafi
Runtime: 99 minutes
Picking up a few years after the original film, Olympus Has Fallen, we find Mike Banning still guarding the President, but on the verge of resigning as his wife will be having his baby soon. The Prime Minister of London dies after surgery, and forty world leaders must go to London for the funeral. Upon arrival the delegates are all attacked at the same time all around the city. Royal Guards, policemen, and personal guards have all been infiltrated and they are after the President of the United States, who, two years prior, had attempted to kill an arms dealer in the Middle East.
The plot for London Has Fallen follows all of the typical tropes of an action thriller. Cheesy one-liners are in abundance, most stolen from ’80s action films starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. We even get a “coming out of the closet” joke. The script is lighthearted enough, and the chemistry between Aaron Eckhart and Gerard Butler is always on key. There are some twists that are completely obvious, and of course a returning cast member has to be knocked off or it wouldn’t be a sequel.
The cast does a good job with the limited material they are given. Gerard Butler seems to be struggling with an American accent in the film’s opening scenes, but falls into it (or I just stopped noticing) as things blew up on the screen. Eckhart is up to par here, delivering a charismatic performance. Morgan Freeman is hardly in it, but he pulls off the strong-willed person that has the voice that will convince you that everything is okay. Angela Bassett delivers all the sass you would expect with her one note role. I didn’t even remember her being in the original, but, hey, I remember nothing of Olympus Has Fallen.
While this isn’t director Babak Najafi’s first film, I’ve never heard of his Swedish debut, Sebbe. He does a decent job with London Has Fallen, but really should have hired a new editor, as the more complex action scenes feel disjointed, sometimes seeing the same seconds of footage back to back, but with a wider view, which took me out of the action. There’s also a scene near the end that’s a long shot of Banning climbing a dumpster, running, and jumping through a hole. It felt like a moment torn right out of a Call of Duty game.
Despite this being an action film, there aren’t a lot things going boom as you may have expected from the trailers. I guess the perk here is that everything from the trailer happens in the first half hour. From that point on, we have a race to safety, very reminiscent of The Purge 2. It pretty much hits every beat, and I know I’ve said this already, but the film definitely has a Call of Duty vibe. Banning loves stabbing the enemies in the head, which caused our audience to clap and cheer the five or six times it happened.
I left the theater feeling like London Has Fallen was better than I expected it to be, but my expectations were low. It’s an action film with some comedy thrown in to lighten the mood. It won’t offend anyone and the audience left the theater chanting “USA! USA!” Take that for what you will. You could do a lot worse at the theater, and this is definitely a fluff film that’s just getting dumped in the dead season as it probably wouldn’t have thrived in the summer. If you’re in to Call of Duty I honestly think you’ll enjoy this film, which isn’t a dig against those fans; I just feel like that was their target demographic judging by the audience’s reaction.
Chris was raised on horror films, which gave him a deep love for the genre, especially its most quirky and offbeat titles (like A Nightmare on Elm Street 2). This love quickly turned into an obsession for cinema in 1997, when he decided he needed to see every major theatrical release. Video games (JRPGs), reading (anything but fantasy), and reality television (Survivor) are just some of his other passions. He’s been with Cinefessions since 2013, and has been writing reviews all over the internet for the past twelve years.