Cinematic Releases: London Has Fallen

Andrew reviews the sequel to Olympus Has Fallen.

I hope they still have a couple slices
left when we get there.
The sequel to Antoine Fuqua's 2013 Die Hard inspired action thriller Olympus Has Fallen is everything you expected it to be: more of the same.  Something of a xenophobic, Cannon Films inspired response to ISIS, this is the kind of action thriller which Toby Keith would be proud of.  That's not to say it isn't entertaining trash but there were times when the crassness of the thing would make the likes of Michael Bay blush.  Picking up where the first film left off, our John Rambo, excuse me, our John McClane, sorry, our Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) finds himself working to, once again, rescue President Benjamin Asher (Aaron Eckhart) from terrorists.  Instead of being barricaded inside the White House, this time around our heroes find themselves in a terrorist attack crippled London running for their lives, relentlessly pursued by extremists.  The one man army film is check your brain at the door popcorn fun and if you think too hard you'll hurt yourself.  Just sit back and enjoy the CGI laden mayhem, bullet dodging, one liners and Gerard Butler doing all he can to not burst into the line 'This is Sparta!'.

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Part video-game movie, partial Hollywood movie vengeance for the recent Paris attacks by ISIS, London Has Fallen panders to every familiar action cliche depicting a one man army against stereotypical middle eastern terrorists.  The setup is for Gerard Butler to get to work and kick ass in between explosions.  About the only real surprise is the killing off of one of the previous film's supporting characters.  The rest of it is pretty formulaic action movie trash.  Reportedly Antoine Fuqua was tapped to direct London Has Fallen but was tied up making The Equalizer and one wonders whether or not the studio should have simply waited a little longer.  If Fuqua has demonstrated anything with the modestly sized action thriller, it's that like his contemporary Walter Hill you can give a B movie more solidarity than it deserves with a little finesse.  With newcomer Babak Najafi behind it however, all caution is thrown to the wind in this frankly mercenary, CGI heavy exercise.  The audience in attendance seemed to be eating it up despite the obvious formulaic predictability of the whole thing.  To the film's credit, Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart and veteran actor Morgan Freeman are clearly having fun and don't take the endeavor all that seriously, cracking one liners right and left with more than a few chuckles thrown in between slayings.  The film is a joke but at least the actors seem to be in on it.

Wait! What? I'm God. And the President!
There's not a whole lot to say about this one.  If you've seen the trailer, you know what you're in for.  Fans of the throwaway action flick will no doubt get some entertainment value out of it and I'll admit I was laughing through most of it.  Is it a tad insensitive in terms of timing due to the recency of the Paris attack?  Maybe.  But if people can't vicariously vent out their frustrations about terrorism fears through an old fashioned B movie with a superhuman single handedly devouring the bad guys right and left, then what good are things like Commando, True Lies, Rambo: First Blood Part II, and of course Die Hard?  Crass, politically incorrect and even corny at times, London Has Fallen is implausible and ridiculous but can tickle your fancy if you plant your tongue firmly in cheek while watching.  If Gerard Butler has proven anything by continually taking on these silly headed action flicks time and time again, with the help of The Expendables movies, he's reminded modern moviegoers that the spirit of Cannon Films is indeed alive and well.


 - Andrew Kotwicki