Film Review – London Has Fallen
London Has Fallen
There’s a moment early into the action in London Has Fallen where the film’s hero Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) executes a bad guy in an isolated situation. President of the United States, Benjamin Asher (Aaron Eckhart) is watching Banning as he does this and responds with a question, “Was that necessary?”. Banning gives himself a moment, as if to actually think about this question, then briskly responds with, “No” and walks away from the scene. The moment, while played for laughs, also represents a certain sense of self conscious awareness. Olympus Has Fallen wasn’t necessarily a huge box-office smash. It’s worldwide take-in was just under double the film’s $70 million budget, which in today’s big budget revenues is barely successful. Also, it’s not like audiences and critics were so taken by the movie that it warranted a sequel, especially when a sequel to a Die Hard knock-off means just another Die Hard type scenario to knock-off.
Picking up after the events of Olympus, Banning is now a clean-cut member of the President’s personal Secret Service detail. He’s also married, and guess what, expecting a child at what looks like at anytime now. But before that can happen the Prime Minister of England dies and all the world leaders, including President Asher, have to go to London for the funeral. Turns out this is a big trap to kill all the world’s leaders because some terrorist’s family members were killed by U.S. drones intended for them. But as Asher himself even points out, Banning is a superhuman and therefore keeps Asher alive as they are doggedly pursued across London.
London Has Fallen may not take place in as enclosed an area as say the White House, but it does make use of London’s tightly corridored landscape of streets and flats as claustrophobic spaces for violence to be committed and escaped from. And there is a lot of violence to be committed here. While this isn’t the next classic action movie, it, as well as its makers, are fully aware of what they are making. Which is essentially a really stupid, cheap looking, and downright offensive piece of viscera that boasts a youthful enthusiasm for macho behavior, terribly hilarious lines of dialog and lots of unremorseful acts of violence. While trying to escape the initial attack in a car, a terrorist’s head comes through Banning and co.’s rear window, Banning looks at the guy trying to hold on and simply unloads a few rounds at point blank range into the attacker’s head, relieving him from the worry of holding on.
The terrorists of course are Muslim and the movie makes sure we know that through visual details as well as anything said aloud. There’s nothing really subtle to be gleaned here. But that’s not what the movie is aiming for. Butler’s Banning certainly carries himself like the invincible superhuman of the heydays of Schwarzenegger and Stallone. He’s definitely not above lying down some carnage and following it up with a snappy, macho quip as he does when expressing his parchment and desire for water, in one of the movie’s more hilarious moments. The plot never gets complicated and simply provides a MacGuffin of Banning and Asher must survive, which is just fine when out of nowhere and for no reason at all the movie pulls off a long-take that follows Banning and a group of British soldiers down a street under heavy fire, the camera panning back and forth between good guys and bad guys. While for the trained eye there’s obvious CGI (computer generated image) assistance in pulling the shot off, the fact they did it and the amount of coordination that it must’ve taken gives the movie a certain level of credence, as far as action movies go, that it didn’t possess until that moment.
For all its loud, banging stupidity, there’s a level of sincerity in the movie’s simple aim at being an R-rated action flick. Sure, it’s offensive, a lot of the CGI shots in the first half look really bad and it relatively features no conflict other than just watching a bunch of dudes getting killed in various, heinous ways, but if that’s all it’s attempting to do, then it does that rather well.