********* 6 out of 10 *********
Director: Babak Najafi
Actors: Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Morgan Freeman
As if saving the US President from terrorists wasn’t tiresome enough for Secret Service agent Mike Banning, that he has to do it all over again. As if watching Olympus Has Fallen wasn’t senseless enough, that we have to do it all over again. The sequel to the 2013 movie brings back the team of US President Benjamin Asher (Aaron Eckhart) and his bodyguard of sorts, Mike Banning (Gerard Butler), who land up in London along with many leaders of the world to mourn the sudden demise of the Prime Minister of Britain. It turns out to be a devious plot by terrorists to assassinate the world leaders, though President Asher manages to escape thanks to the swiftness of Banning. What follows then is an action-packed though absurd chase across London, a city which for the time being has terrorists strolling around just for fun’s sake.
To be fair to London Has Fallen, you couldn’t have gone to see it because of the script. No one in their right mind would be screaming, “Hey, I heard the story for London Has Fallen is creative and fascinating, so let’s watch it!” So one should not be complaining much about the absurdities in the plot (which has as many as four writers credited for the screenplay!) when stepping out of the theatre. But even after being in a forgivable mood, there are some elements in the movie that do make you feel numb. For one, it puts the British Government and MI6 in a terribly bad light, and even those adjectives are generous. London crumbles in such a spectacular fashion so effortlessly which even the most pessimistic doomsday believer would not have seen coming. There is hardly any effort made to create character arcs, apart that of Banning to some extent who is going to become a father soon. Towards the end of the film, attempts are made to plug in some holes in the plot which only bring in a few additional ones that do not deserve to be pondered over. It will just make your head ache.
London Has Fallen has a purpose though, which is to pull you into a fast-paced action movie by hook or by crook. To a large degree, the movie achieves its objective which is a relief. Things start slow, a bit too slow for my liking for I was in no mood to learn about Banning’s personal life. Once London is attacked, it is a non-stop chase, high on adrenaline, with little room for any other emotion. The action scenes are smoothly shot with effective camera work that does catch the attention. A gun battle closer to the climax of the movie is shot with the fluidity of a video game, as the sound of the guns completely fill up the theatre. The Iranian director Babak Najafi catches the perfect tone and mood for the action, keeping it dark and sinister to show the seriousness of the drama unfolding on the screen. As long as people are fighting, the movie is watchable. It is only when they start talking do things get uncomfortable.
Gerard Butler grows on you as the movie progresses just as the action gets better from one scene to the next. He has a rugged style that makes his character Mike Banning appear more like a human than a superhero which helps the movie, for that makes him look a bit vulnerable too and creates a connect with the audience. Butler may still not be convincing as an action hero but his imposing personality cannot go unnoticed. Aaron Eckhart is the President-in-distress once more, who is doing little other than running around with Banning. A bit more fight in him would have been helpful, though he does manage it towards the end. Morgan Freeman as the Vice-President is watching events unfold once again on a screen. Charismatic, no matter his age; effortless, no matter the role; that is Morgan Freeman for you. There is no great acting requirement from the others, and the performances of the likes of Melissa Leo, Angela Basset, Radha Mitchell and Jackie Earle Haley hardly create an impression. As for the bad guys, they do not manage to look threatening enough, though the xenophobic approach of Hollywood is once again visible with the terrorists shown to be hailing from Pakistan. Alon Moni Aboutboul plays Aamir Barkawi, the mastermind of the attacks, though it is Waleed Zuaiter as the son Kamran Barkawi who brings more fire into the fight.
With a run-time of less than 100 minutes, London Has Fallen does not stretch its stay. And in that period it does manage to put together an edgy action thriller which may not linger in your minds later, but seems to do the trick in the cinema hall. So do not feel guilty if you enjoyed it, for we are allowed to let our brains take a break once in a while!