Los Angeles (AP): “London Has Fallen” never pretends to be anything it’s not. The sequel to Antoine Fuqua’s big, dumb and kind of fun “Olympus Has Fallen,” is bigger, dumber, jaw-droppingly shameless and also kind of a riot. It is just so spectacularly clichéd and over-the-top that all you can do is laugh.
The craziest thing is how they convinced everyone to reprise their roles. A dare? Fond memories? Or perhaps the $161 million worldwide box office receipts didn’t hurt either. In any event, Aaron Eckhart is back as U.S. President Benjamin Asher, Angela Bassett as Lynne the Secret Service Director, Morgan Freeman as the Vice President and, of course, Gerard Butler as Secret Service Agent Mike Banning — the guy who saved the country from an improbably big assault on the White House just three years ago.
Melissa Leo (left) and Morgan Freeman are shown in a scene from Grammercy Pictures’, “London Has Fallen.” (David Appleby/Grammercy Pictures/Focus Features via AP)
The only one missing is director Antoine Fuqua and you feel it. He’s been replaced with Swedish director Babak Najafi in his English-language debut. Fuqua might not have been at his best with “Olympus Has Fallen” but he’s still a skilled director. “London Has Fallen” is a lot more cartoony.
This time, the president, Mike and Lynn head off to London for the funeral of the British prime minister where 40 other heads of state are expected. And, as is wont for the unluckiest administration in history, there’s a large-scale, hyper-coordinated attack in the moments before the funeral as the terrorists pick off world leaders in various comical locations around the city. The French PM is on a luxury motor boat with champagne, the Japanese PM is stuck in traffic on a bridge, and the older Italian PM is up on the rooftop of Westminster Abbey with his young girlfriend because “you only turn 30 once.”
One of the only ones to get out alive is the U.S. president, and he and Mike begin an unbelievable run around the city to try to find safety. All that’s missing was a montage of them trying on some civilian clothes so that they aren’t running around the desolate streets in their “hey, I’m the president and his protector three-piece navy suits.” That, sadly, does not happen.
Anyone who saw the first one knows that this is not an action movie that’s based in any sort of reality. It’s an action movie based on other action movies. The lines are big, the jokes are dumb, the through-the-temple shots and ensuing blood splatter gratuitous, the logic infuriating, and the gunfire relentless. At one point, when Mike and the President are in relative safety, Mike confirms to a terrorist via intercom that, yes, he is the one with the president.
Mike also might be a murderous sociopath. When President Ben asks what he’s made of, he says “bourbon and bad decisions.” He also prefers the close contact knife kill to simple gun shots and makes jokes like “I knew you’d come out of the closet sometime” when the president emerges to save him from a terrorist.
The terrorists, by the way, are led by a powerful international arms dealer (Alon Moni Aboutboul) who is out for vengeance after a drone strike targeting him ended up killing his daughter at her wedding. For such an epic and comprehensive operation, his goals are fuzzy at best. It’s a wonder how he was able to turn all those British police and royal guards into his own personal army with a vague “change the world” message.
But that’s too much thinking for a movie that is ultimately just mindless bluster. It remains so-bad-its-good fun, too, until the final third which devolves into some troubling Middle Eastern stereotypes and rah-rah American patriotic posturing as contrast.
This sort of movie was made for television viewing. You could tune in or out at any moment and really not miss anything. Or just have a drink beforehand and bring your rowdiest friends to the theater.
“London Has Fallen,” a Gramercy Pictures release, is rated R by the Motion Picture Association of America for “strong violence and language throughout.” Running time: 99 minutes. One and a half stars out of four.