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London Has Fallen: movie review

Updated on March 4, 2016
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Collin's been a movie critic since 2009. In real life he works in marketing and is also a novelist ("Good Riddance" published in Oct 2015).

London Has Fallen
London Has Fallen | Source

Bad luck just seems to follow some people. John McClane couldn’t escape those pesky Die Hard terrorists, Olympus Has Fallen’s Secret Service agent Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) seems to suffer the same fate… and Gerard Butler is apparently destined to a life of schlocky performances in schlocky movies.

Sure Olympus was mildly entertaining--in a "Die Hard at the White House" way--but it didn’t offer anything that hadn’t already been stuffed into every other one-man-army movie. There was the requisite bulletproof leading man, the one-note villain, the mindless destruction of landmarks, the senseless (and unacknowledged) killing of civilians…

Taking place three years after its predecessor, London Has Fallen is another excuse for Butler to shoot (or stab) the crap out of everyone, while single-handedly saving the entire world. And though there’s nothing particularly worthwhile about the movie, it nonetheless offers a certain amount of guilty pleasure. The plot may be ridiculous, the performances may be melodramatic to the point of being satirical, and the script may be laced with more cliches than a soap opera… but darn it if you don’t have at least a little fun.

When all the world’s leaders gather in London for the state funeral of the Prime Minister, dastardly Pakistani terrorist Aamir Barkawi (Alon Aboutboul) sees the perfect opportunity to kill all the world’s leaders. (And just so he doesn’t come across as completely cold-hearted, the movie opens with the U.S. blowing up his daughter’s wedding.)

Before the PM’s funeral can even begin, the shockingly well-orchestrated mayhem begins. Five leaders are dead within five minutes, Westminster Abbey is leveled, and Chelsea Bridge is destroyed. Cue the car chase, as the President (Aaron Eckhart) and Banning flee in a bulletproof (but not really) SUV. Before long the pair are all alone on the streets of London, running from the bad-guy army that’s fixin’ to decapitate the Prez live on the interwebs. Will the good guys prevail? Will the hero save the day in the nick of time? Spoiler alert-- You bet.

While you may get the feeling that a baby monkey could have written the script for this thing, director Babak Najafi (Easy Money II: Hard to Kill) actually does a halfway-decent job of keeping things zipping right along. And even more credit goes to his editors, Michael Duthie and Paul Martin Smith, who keep everything to a very manageable 99 minutes.

As for that screenplay, the committee of Creighton Rothenberger, Katrin Benedikt, Christian Gudegast, and Chad St. John have cobbled together a bunch of tough-guy exclamations (“We’ll get you out of here!”) and a healthy dose of pained expressions (Gasp!) to make something resembling all the material that was too cheesy to make the final cut of Die Hard 4 (or was it 5?)

Conclusion

Most of the film makes absolutely zero logical sense (an entire neighborhood’s worth of bad guys simply disappears at one point), and, indeed, Banning survives not one but twenty separate incidents that would have instantly killed anyone else… but as a pure testosterone rush? You could do worse. Barely, sure. But you could do worse.

Rating

3/5 stars

'London Has Fallen' trailer

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