London Has Fallen

London Has Fallen

Director: Babak Najafi

Writers: Creighton Rothenberger, Katrin Benedikt, Christian Gudegast, Chad St. John

Stars: Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Morgan Freeman, Melissa Leo

Basic Plot: Mike Banning, secret service agent and badass extraordinaire, returns to once again save the president’s tushy from terrorists who intend to kill him….but this time, in London.

Review By Mike DeAngelo:

I’m one of the few people who was actually looking forward to seeing London Has Fallen. While the first movie (Olympus Has Fallen) was certainly no original action masterpiece, it was a  simple dose of bloody B-movie fun. Yes, like many 80’s/90’s action movies, it was basically a Die Hard rip-off, but it was one of the watchable ones. Director Antoine Fuqua (Training Day, Shooter, The Equalizer, Southpaw) deserves much of the credit, as he knows how to strip away what’s unnecessary and just make a straight forward, no nonsense action flick. Sadly, without Antoine’s B.S. detector and sense for action, London Has Fallen is a limp, clichéd, and extremely heavy handed mess.

One of the reasons I was hesitant to start up this site in the first place was because I didn’t want to become another guy who was consistently crapping on everything he sees. I never want to discourage anyone’s expression. If I don’t like a movie, I want to try my best to at least tell you what worked and what did not – as opposed to just saying, “It totally sucked. I’m better than everyone. Don’t see it.” At least that’s what I see when I read some critics reviews – they turn their noses up so much at certain movies, specifically action movies, that it becomes a contest of who can be more pretentious. Screw that.

Yet, when a movie doesn’t work, it doesn’t work – and London Has Fallen just plain doesn’t work. Director Babak Najafi tries to stick to the old adage of movie sequels: take what worked and do it bigger. In almost all cases, it fails.

What worked? Not much... Gerard Butler is still pretty dependable as the “John McClane-type” action-hero and some of the action scenes are reasonably tense, but nearly everything else falls flat. That includes the rest of the cast, the awful writing, and some profoundly poor special effects. Seriously, I’m pretty sure there are apps on my I-Pad that can do better FX work than what I saw throughout the movie. And, on a $105 million budget, that’s just shameful.

It’s obvious that a lot of the money went towards retaining the impressive cast that is mostly squandered. Most puzzling is the use of Oscar winner, Melissa Leo, and new addition, Jackie Earl Haley. Both of their characters have about two lines and are so inconsequential that you could have used two extras and saved a ton of money. Money that could have went towards better FX work or another re-write.

Now, let’s address the villains. While the first movie used America’s fear of North Korean extremism (one of the more puzzling parts of the original), this film takes the even more obvious middle-eastern terrorist route – and with about as much racism and subtlety as a Klan meeting. Their motives, their actions, and their treatment are all extremely two-dimensional and downright sad. This is surprising, considering that the movie is directed by an Iranian born citizen.  I thought maybe we’d actually see a point of view that would challenge our thoughts on people perceived as villains in that world, but instead we’re treated to a heavy-handed dose of ‘Merica with a side of red, white and blue…and FREEDOM! If you don’t want to join the terrorist-killing cause by the end, Morgan Freeman is given the right-wingiest of fear mongering speeches to ram it down your throat for good measure.

What worked about the first movie, above anything else, is that it kept things simple. For me, that’s the golden rule of any action movie. In the end, London Has Fallen is the antithesis of that rule, yet it still comes off more simplistic than any action movie I’ve seen in a long time. It wasn’t the worst action movie I’ve ever seen, but it was an enormous disappointment. Sometimes that feels worse, So much for having a new b-movie action series to look forward to every few years.  I guess us action buffs will always have the first movie….and Die Hard…and Die Harder…and Die Hard With A Vengeance…and Live Free or Die Hard…..and Under Siege (1 &2)….and Air Force One….and Sudden Death…and Passenger 57….and Executive Decision….and The Rock….and Speed (also 1&2)…..etc., etc.