London Has Fallen

Directed by:  Babak Nafaji

Starring: Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Morgan Freeman, Alon Moni Aboutboul,  Angela Bassett, Robert Forster, Melissa Leo, and Radha Mitchell

Olympus Has Fallen
debuted in 2013 and was a box office hit.  Audiences of various ages loved the premise and gravitated towards the movie.  It delivered action, great special effects, and a compelling protagonist.  Given its success, of course, filmmakers decided to give us a sequel.  Unfortunately, London Has Fallen is not as good as the original.

Everything is going well for Secret Service agent Mike Banning (Gerard Butler).  Several years after fending off an attack on the White House, Banning is still serving President Asher (Aaron Eckhart).  Banning and his wife are expecting a baby, and he is considering retirement so that he can care for his wife and child.  Suddenly, the British Prime Minister has a heart attack and dies.  Dignitaries from around the world must travel to London to attend the funeral and pay their respects.  Banning and the head of the secret service Lynne Jacobs (Angela Bassett) are concerned about traveling abroad with such short notice.  Without sufficient time to scout and secure locations, the President will be vulnerable.  Ultimately however, since Britain is America’s oldest ally, President Asher decides to travel to London for the funeral.

Initially, everything appears to be sound.  The Italian Prime Minister sneaks off with his young mistress for a private tour of Westminster Abbey.  The French president is still on his boat, waiting to be fashionably late.  And the American president has secretly arrived early as a security measure.  Unbeknownst to world leaders, however, Aamir Barkawi (Alon Aboutboul), an arms dealer, has infiltrated London as part of a comprehensive assault on the west.  Barkawi is out for revenge after the G8 authorized a drone strike that killed his daughter and many others.  Barkawi’s operatives attack the funeral services and kill multiple world leaders, as well as civilians.  Banning and the President are forced into the streets of London, fighting to avoid capture and public execution by Barkawi.

There is some part of me that enjoyed London Has Fallen.  Gerard Butler is back in “foul-mouthed, trash-talking, terrorist-killing” mode. And director Babak Nafaji delivers non-stop action from start to finish.  The film is filled with disaster movie special effects as British bridges and landmarks crumble; and it also contains special operations sequences akin to scenes from the video game Uncharted.  

However, Nafaji and the film’s writers play it safe and use the exact same formula as Olympus Has Fallen.  Again, the President is the target of a terrorist plot, and is cut off from the Secret Service and their protection with the lone exception of one agent.  Again, the President and the agent face seemingly insurmountable odds and Gerard Butler’s character uses a particular set of skills to annihilate any terrorist with the temerity to breathe in his direction.  Again, Morgan Freeman’s character and a series of leaders sit helplessly in a security room, horrified and frightened by the action of terrorists.  And yet again, the enemy has a secret operative in the ranks of the government, aiding them in their mission.  London Has Fallen is literally a photocopy of its predecessor.  But like most copies, it’s just not as good as the original.  

Additionally, it is unsettling to watch some of the scenes of destruction and mayhem so soon after the Paris attacks.  The filmmakers try to give some nuisance to the film by explaining the terrorists’ motivations.  Innocent women and children were killed by Western bombs.  But there seems to be a vicious cycle of bombing that is lauded by the filmmakers, but is problematic.

London Has Fallen
earns a 0.09% rating.  Have a martini with this one. You would be best served saving your money and watching Olympus Has Fallen at home. Olympus Has Fallen is more complex and has more interesting interpersonal drama.