London Has Fallen: Suspension of disbelief a little tougher second time around
Like most action films, Olympus Has Fallen (2013) required quite the willingness to suspend disbelief in order to be appropriately enjoyed. It’s opening foray – the take down of the White House, the capture of POTUS and annihilation of all bar one member of his secret service team, was awesomely portrayed and dealt blow after blow as the situation for the ‘good guys’ became seemingly more and more hopeless. From there it became a poor man’s Die Hard, though not too poor, as Gerard Butler (who plays super secret service agent Mike Banning) roamed the halls of the White House taking down evil Korean henchmen and saving the day (whoops, a spoiler!) using his formidable weapons and tactics training and unrivaled knowledge of the White House.
The sequel (boy, wrong place, wrong time), London Has Fallen, again sees Irish-heritaged Scottish-born Canadian-raised all-American action hero Butler once again attempting to protect President Benjamin Asher (Aaron Eckhart) from the evils of terrorism, this time in the unlikely form of Middle-Eastern / Central Asian Muslim cliches (gasp!). Led by arms dealer Aamir Barkawi (Alon Aboutboul), these terrorists have taken over the streets of London in a manner that basically makes the London police and intelligence service look like something out of the cast of a Benny Hill special.
The writers attempt some brief explanation. This has been a carefully orchestrated plan years in the making. With an opportunity presented that gave the terrorists a good 48 hours to implement said plan, they manage to get their people into position (like, to infiltrate the Palace Guard at Buckingham Palace, you know those guys that require years and years of training and vetting, and don’t move when you tickle their noses with a feather), to get vast quantities of explosives not only into the city, but also into highly secure iconic buildings such as Westminster Abbey, and to have a few good men left over to patrol city rooftops armed with Stinger Missiles just in case Marine 1 ever gets off the ground.
To aid them, and to make the whole thing a tad more believable, they are aided by the traditional ‘mole’ within MI6, an intelligence agent so diabolically clever that he is uncovered due to the fact that he orchestrated the whole thing using his own access codes whilst standing in front of a security camera (and even then, it basically takes the combined might of London Police and MI6 the entire movie to figure out the mole’s identity).
So second time around, our ability to just switch off and enjoy the action as presented to us is just a little more challenged. This alone makes London a significantly less enjoyable experience than its predecessor.
The initial attack on London is, obviously, quite predictable, but also just a little boring and unimaginative. And, really, all to easy. From here, Banning, Asher and Secret Service Director Lynne Jacobs (Angela Bassett) escape to Marine 1, and, seemingly, safety. It is from here that the movie actually begins to pick up. The chopper scene is quite thrilling, and once our heroes are back on the ground in London there is plenty to keep the audience entertained. If you can resist the urge to scream at Banning all the different ways you can think of that would be better to protect the President than his driving into a terrorist army camped outside the US Embassy (any other building in all of London would have been safer than the US Embassy at this time) then it becomes quite an enjoyable ride.
Thankfully, toward the back-end of the film, Banning joins forces with a British Special Forces Team, which provides a rare glimpse into some actual intelligent film-making as the Special Forces team attack the terrorists base of operations in an extended sequence that is quite brilliantly crafted (the camera-work and editing here is actually so good this sequence almost feels like it belongs to a different movie), and the Special Forces ‘assist’ makes Banning’s saving of the day a little more palatable.
Morgan Freeman reprises his role as Vice President Trumball, adding his own touch of gravitas to an otherwise silly outing, and voicing his own commentary as the story moves forward – just in case we missed anything during the latest explosion.
Suspend disbelief and enjoy, or tear it apart the way a grizzly bear would a goldfish. This is not a bad action flick, but neither is it a good one. Awkwardly placed somewhere between mildly enjoyable and forgettable, London Has Fallen is what you do when you want a night at the movies but have seen Deadpool twice already.
Explosions and Action
Chaos and Carnage