London Has Fallen - The Riles Review
You’d think after the White House fell that they would just stop taking the President anywhere. I mean if he can’t even be trusted to stay at home without attracting a swath of bad guys with rockets and machine guns, why would you take him on holiday?
So in London Has Fallen, the President has to attend a funeral for the British Prime Minister. Mike Banning, the secret service agent who saved the President back in 2013 when the White House fell in Olympus Has Fallen, takes the reins in terms of the President’s security detail while they travel to London for the funeral. But as it turns out, terrorists really want to kill every world leader, and Mike Banning is not going to let them get to his favourite President.
So I wasn’t really a big fan of the first film, the whole thing just didn’t resonate with me. But the sequel is actually a fairly enjoyable movie if you’re willing to let your brain go passive for 100 minutes. It’s a straight up action movie, with a straight up action star propelling a plot that’s balls-out insane. The story is really just a side dish to what’s going on, which is Gerard Butler stabbing and shooting lots of people and swearing at the President of the United States.
Mike Banning is actually quite a fun character. Yes, he’s a pretty casual racist (Fuckheadistan isn’t a nation I believe), but Gerard Butler keeps a fairly light tone and mentality the whole way. Every now and again the movie pumps out some melodrama and a lot of misplaced patriotism. Luckily this'll last ten seconds at a time, but it’s Butler’s personality that keeps the movie funny and somehow grounded. Butler single-handedly stops the movie turning into a dead-face bore of an action movie.
There’s quite an excellent cast as well, pretty much all of your original cast from the 2013 film, but you’ll only see them once or twice. And they’ll usually be staring at computers back in America, pretty much just being worried about the President. This excludes the team in Scotland Yard, who stare at computers in the UK, being worried about the President. Unless you’re looking at Banning and the President, there is next to nothing going on behind the scenes. One of the funniest things I found was that when they were introducing the brains who are all staring at computers, their names will appear at the bottom of the screen, as if to say you need to pay attention to who these people are and what they’re going to be doing. But in reality, they all do squat while Banning has to save America (and London purely by proxy) with a machine gun and a gung ho attitude.
Admittedly, all of the world leaders who are assassinated are purely stereotypes. They are unforgivably bland and tasteless, there’s really no point focusing on them for the two minutes that the film does. In fact, the only grounded and believable characters, are the President of the United States and Banning.
The action in the movie is actually excellent, a few rungs above the typical fare that this film was in danger of becoming. Fight scenes are intense and quite brutal. There’s some excellent gunplay, especially towards the end. With all of your character and story problems, the moments of violence do help to elevate the film just that little bit. And because Banning is such a good character, it’s a lot more fun to watch him doing all the murdering.
So if you’re looking for a taut political thriller, this isn’t it. If you want to see an American insulting people as he shoots them in the face, this is it. If you’re willing to let your brain turn off and just absorb the tightly filmed action sequences and charisma that Gerard Butler is letting ooze out, then you’re going to enjoy the film a lot more.
LONDON HAS FALLEN --
BRAINS ON - 6.5/10
BRAINS OFF - 2/10