Gerard Butler’s Secret Service agent returns to kick ass, spew one-liners in presidential-based action sequel
KEY CAST MEMBERS: Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Morgan Freeman, Jackie Earle Haley, Angela Bassett, Melissa Leo, Robert Forster, Waleed Zuaiter, Charlotte Riley, Radha Mitchell and Alon Moni Aboutboul
60 SECOND PLOT SUMMARY (OR AS CLOSE TO THAT TIME AS ONE CAN MAKE IT): The unexpected sequel to 2013’s White House action opus Olympus Has Fallen, London Has Fallen once again centers around President Benjamin Asher (Aaron Eckhart) and his top Secret Service protector Mike Banning (Gerard Butler). While they two have become the best of friends to the point they are literally now regular running buddies, Mike has been thinking of turning in his resignation and settling down with his pregnant wife Leah (Radha Mitchell).
Then the Prime Minister of Britain dies unexpectedly following routine surgery, prompting world leaders to all flock to London for his funeral, pressing Banning (his preferred moniker) back into action for the 3-day affair. Banning, you see, doesn’t like having short notice to prepare for things – and neither does Secret Service head Lynne Jacobs (Angela Bassett) nor Vice-President Allan Trumbull (Morgan Freeman).
Of course, as fate would have it, Banning and company have plenty to worry about because Aamir Barkawi (Alon Moni Aboutboul), a notorious arms dealer of apparent Middle Eastern origin that the U.S. ordered an airstrike against a few years ago, has been waiting for such an event. So when the opportunity arises to take out several of the top world leaders, he can’t wait, even though he plans to save his biggest revenge for last: Executing President Asher live on the Internet for the entire world to see.
Then again, Barkawi has never met Mike Banning … But he’s definitely about to …
SO, IS IT GOOD, BAD OR ABSOLUTELY AWFUL? A film that might as well come with a “CNN Headline News/1980s-style action found here!” sticker on it, London Has Fallen doesn’t look to re-invent the wheel by any stretch of the imagination when it comes to action flicks. It simply looks to keep them moving in a stampeding fashion in hopes of box office returns.
Let’s be honest: Gerard Butler is an actor who (depending on how you feel about him, sadly or not) is at his best with a gun or sword in his hands. There’s a reason it’s nearly impossible to think of him and not have this scene from 10 years ago come to mind, for it’s the definitive thing that he does best: Hurt people, spout profane-yet-corny-yet-effective one liners and usually look 80s action hero cool as he does it. London is full of Butler doing all these things as the “I gotta do what my country needs me to do” moments come fast and furious from start to finish. Banning is never without a clever (and potentially derisive) quip or a weapon at just the right time, which does play well against Eckhart’s “I’m just trying to do my best job for the American people so why I am being treated like this” naiveté.
Make no mistake: Morgan Freeman is the coolest, most level-headed person here and thank God that he is as it is needed in between explosions and fist fights.
But … That’s where the movie emotionally stops. You don’t care so much as about the characters as individuals as you do as watching America come out on top in what is essentially a live action version of playing Call of Duty or Battlefield with your friends online (complete with an equal amount of cursing and explicit machismo). You can enjoy London Has Fallen as a guilty pleasure – emphasis on “guilty” – on a basic level, but there are no grand statements being made, save for “America will always rise to stop bad guys” and “If you ain’t us, you’re against us.”Liking the film on any other level is on par with the girl who dates a guy for his car, muscles and/or money or the guy who dates a girl because she’s got a million dollar body and a $.10 head – It’s fine, but there’s nothing serious going on there beyond a brief, frivolous fling.Then again, in a world where a reality star could become president, don’t be surprised if you see another sequel with a title like “Tokyo Has Fallen” in 3 years time …