LONDON HAS FALLEN
*1/2 (out of four)
DIRECTED BY Babak Najafi
STARS Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart
Gerard Butler and Aaron Eckhart in London Has Fallen (Photo: Gramercy)
President Trump hasn't even taken office yet, but here we're already being force-fed the first motion picture under his new world order. London Has Fallen suggests the sort of film Leni Riefenstahl might have made had she bade Hitler "Auf Wiederhesen" and trotted off to enjoy a lucrative Hollywood contract under David O. Selznick. It's nationalistic nonsense from start to finish, calibrated to maintain such a fever pitch of patriotism that it makes Team America: World Police look like Communist propaganda by comparison. Lest we forget, Team America was a satire by design; London Has Fallen is a satire by stupidity.
A sequel to 2013's Olympus Has Fallen, a mediocre action flick whose only claim to fame is that it beat the identical White House Down into theaters by a mere three months, this one finds all of the world's leaders gathering in London to attend the funeral of the Prime Minister, who, apparently taking a hint from Scalia, died suddenly. But as the global dignitaries gather for the funeral, Pakistani terrorists disguised as British soldiers, bobbies, Beefeaters and everything else short of Nanny McPhee all suddenly start slaughtering politicians and civilians alike. They also destroy many of the city's most famous landmarks, including Westminster Abbey and Chelsea Bridge. Frankly, I'm surprised they didn't blow the London Eye off its base, just to give us a shot of Gerard Butler's character attempting to outrun it like Indiana Jones and that giant boulder.
Yes, Butler is back as Secret Service agent extraordinaire Mike Banning, and he's the only reason U.S. President Benjamin Asher (returning co-star Aaron Eckhart) is the only world leader to escape death. The French president is killed while being smug and aloof. The Japanese prime minister is killed while being fastidious. The Italian president is killed while being a horny bastard. (Yes, this movie rarely misses an opportunity to wallow in stereotypes.) But the U.S. prez is not killed because Mike Banning is man enough to ward off any and all assassins. Watching him take down terrorists is like watching the opening Normandy Beach scene in Saving Private Ryan, with the thousands of Germans replaced by thousands of terrorists and the thousands of Allied soldiers replaced by one Mike Banning.
The remainder of the movie follows Banning as he tries to extract Asher from the deadly surroundings, with regular cutaways to Vice President Trumbull (Morgan Freeman) back in D.C. barking out orders. Banning's wisecracks throughout the film are exceedingly lame (such as when he tells a bad guy to "go back to Fuckheadistan"), but no worries, as there are plenty of unintentional laughs. The movie takes care to identify (via urgent type) countless characters (e.g. "Allan Trumbull, U.S. Vice President," "Jacquelin Marshall, MI6," "Carmen Sandiego, Criminal Mastermind"), a useless endeavor since most are only given a line or two before blending into the background. There's a traitor among the Brits, but his identity is moronically easy to guess (Spoiler: It's the guy with the receding hairline, since a frequent sign of a traitor is that he has a receding hairline; see also Air Force One. End Spoiler). One of the good guys, so obviously set up to perish that the character's name might as well be "Luckless Character Destined To Die Solely To Make Mike Banning Realllly Angry," suffers a gruesome death more suited to Christopher Lee in one of those Hammer Dracula flicks. And at one point, Vice President Trumbull, speaking via recording, takes it upon himself to share a personal anecdote so that Mike knows it's the real Trumbull. Well, of course it's the real Trumbull; who in this universe could possibly pull off a successful impersonation of Morgan Freeman's heavenly voice, aside from maybe God?