A sequel to 2013’s pale Die Hard rip-off Olympus Has Fallen, this unpleasant follow-up is the movie equivalent of The Sun – a gloriously entertaining romp spoiled by the big, fat seam of hate and xenophobia that runs through it.
London Has Fallen sees Gerard Butler’s thuggish Secret Service agent Mike Banning forced to protect his Presidential bestie once again when an implausibly large terrorist army launches a devastating attack on the UK capital during the Prime Minister’s state funeral.
Like its predecessor, the action descends into the usual mix of preposterous plot twists, repetitive set-pieces and threadbare action clichés as Banning shoots, stabs and punches his way through London’s battle-ravaged landmarks to rescue Eckhart’s chummy POTUS after he’s abducted by vengeful insurgents.
It might not be the most original movie you’ll ever see, but then those behind it have no intention of reinventing the wheel – they just want to have fun blowing it to smithereens. And there’s no denying London Has Fallen is a whole lot of fun. Babak Najafi directs with a ferocious pace and gritty intensity that will hook you instantly and keep you gripped until the bitter end.
Sadly, all the fun is spoiled by the distasteful views that lay at its heart. The terrorists are, of course, the usual band of ‘evil Muslim monsters’ on a mission to destroy civilised western society. Thank God there’s a heroic white guy around to save the day. But while this openly racist narrative can at least claim to tap into modern fears about ISIS fighters returning home to wreak bloody havoc on our streets, it doesn’t excuse Butler’s utterly charmless performance.
Banning is established as a troubled father-to-be who is tired of looking over his shoulder for a living, yet this dissatisfaction is completely disregarded as soon as the action kicks in, with Banning seemingly to busy enjoying maiming bad guys to care about his internal conflict. It’s all part of an uncomfortably jingoistic theme that revels in highlighting our foreign enemies’ wrongs while happily air-brushing over our own transgressions in this endless conflict.
When it steps down from its soapbox, London Has Fallen can be jaw-droppingly entertaining, but unpleasant themes and despicable characters turn this bombastic thriller into a murky stab-a-thon that should be avoided at all costs.
Runtime: 99 mins; Genre: Action/Thriller; Released: 3 March 2016;
Director: Babak Najafi; Writers: Creighton Rothenberger, Katrin Benedikt;
Cast: Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Morgan Freeman, Angela Bassett
Click here to watch the trailer for London Has Fallen