LONDON HAS FALLEN sees the entire ensemble cast return to face another round of terrorists who, this time, have launched an attack on London the likes of which has never been seen before. And so within the first fifteen minutes the audience is treated to a non-stop bombardment of massive set pieces and the elaborate digital destruction of London. In fact the entire content of the theatrical trailer for the film is dealt with before the actual story even takes shape, which is a blessing for the audience as it gets all of the stodgy CGI bullshit out of the way.
What follows is a cringe-worthy gun-totin' shoot-em-up piece of ultra American patriotism that is likely to give Donald Trump the hard-on of his life. This is 100% American “good guys” versus “middle eastern bad guys”. It isn't politically correct and it makes no apologies. At one point our hero looks a terrorist in the eye and says “Go back to Fuckheadistan!” before putting a bullet in his face (or a knife through his head... or severs his spine... or one of those things). That's the level of America-Fuck-Yeah that we're dealing with and the movie couldn't care less about anyone's finer feelings. And that makes it so much damn fun!
Gerard Butler returns as secret service agent Mike Banning, who serves as President Asher's (Aaron Eckhart) personal bodyguard. Together they run from bullets and mow down the bad guys using automatic machine guns with never-ending supplies of magazine cartridges. With the earlier sloppy scenes of mass destruction out of the way, the rest of the action is well handled. The narrative moves at a breakneck pace and the impact is substantial. It is a violent and messy 100-minutes that never relents, and relishes every bone-crunching moment.
Butler has commanded the role with a confidence that was unassuming in the first film. He seems most comfortable in this brand of character, which he has been pushing for the past 10-years. With films like MACHINE GUN PREACHER, LAW ABIDING CITIZEN and GAMER under his belt, he is securing himself a position in the Hollywood Action Star hall of fame. In LONDON HAS FALLEN he also brings a cocky sense of humour, which was absent in OLYMPUS, and gives the movie a much more frivolous quality.
The other return players include Morgan Freeman, Angela Bassett, Robert Forster, Radha Mitchell and Melissa Yeo, but aside from Freeman and Bassett, none of them serve any purpose to the story. Forster delivers the occasional “Oh my God” and “Son of a Bitch” and Yeo (Academy Award winning actress, I might add) sits in the wings for the entire duration, looking like a stunned mullet and muttering only one single whispered line. Talk about a total waste of talent. Nevertheless their combined calibre is undeniable and their faces help give credence to the new level of absurdity that LONDON HAS FALLEN has to offer.
I suspect that the critical response to this film will be pitiful. It will be torn down and passed off as American propaganda and berated for being cliched – and so what? This is the same breed of action movie that came out of the 80s when American was #1 and Chuck Norris was their only hope! Well now they've got Gerard Butler; the most Scottish American hero of them all, who kicks ass and had fun doing it (alongside his Iranian director Babak Najafi, I might add).