London has fallen, and the only man who can put it back on its feet is Gerard Butler. God help us all. The sequel to 2013’s Olympus has fallen is bigger, louder and sillier than its predecessor and it is also perhaps the most jingoistic film of the decade so far.
Reprising his role from the first film Gerard Butler plays Mike Banning, the head honcho security guard to the president of the United States- Benjamin Asher, played once again by Aaron Eckhart. When the British prime-minister dies mysteriously following complications from some knee surgery, Asher, along with all the other world leaders must fly over to London for the funeral. Except it isn’t only the world leaders than are attending- the event is infiltrated by a terrorist group who attack the English captial, shooting dead civilians, blowing up world leaders and destroying landmarks with the use of shoddy CGI. Manning must now punch, kick and shoot the president and himself out of the city and put a stop to the terrorists before they behead Asher live on Youtube.
If Olympus has fallen was a throwback to 1990’s action movies in the Die-Hard mold then London has Fallen is a throwback to 1980’s jingoistic nonsense, where everyone who isn’t American and has a different skin colour is bad and America is the greatest nation on earth, making Rocky 4 look mild in comparison. The central villain in this piece is a terrorist operating from Yemen, whose family were killed by an American drone strike several years previous. Instead of this presenting some interesting moral questions about the nature of the conflict in the Middle-East however it simply sticks a big fat middle finger up to the debate and tells all the Asian characters to fuck off back to Fuckbekistan (actual dialogue from the movie.) The carnage that takes place in London is not a prophecy of impending doom, but rather what I imagine Donald Trump envisions every time he sees someone wearing a turban. Fear mongering at its most heinous.
It would be a lie if I was to say there isn’t some fun to be had here though- the action sequences feel like they have been ripped straight from a video game and are enjoyable if you have the sense to switch your brain off whilst you are watching, and Eckhart and Butler do share a decent chemistry on scene, making the movie’s more uncomfortable scenes a bit more bearable. One scene in particular, where we see several world leaders all meeting their demise feels inspired by the Final Destination franchise. The movie’s problems all seem to stem from its script and its lacklustre production- the movie feels like a big budget ITV special, whilst some scenes are just straight to DVD bad.
The screenplay for the movie has been credited to four writers. Oddly though none of those four writers happen to be Paul Golding, or Jayda Fransen, of Britain First fame. Several lines of dialogue, including the aforementioned Fuckbekistan quote feel as though they could have been plucked from any extreme right wing Facebook group as the movie makes no attempt to hide its political stance.
If you can switch your brain off for 100 minutes you may find some enjoyment in London has Fallen, but all in all it is a film that has no reason to exist, other than to seemingly push some sort of political agenda. Butler and Eckhart do their best with some bad material but the pair can’t really save the movie, let alone London.