STARRING: Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Morgan Freeman, Alon Moni Aboutboul, Angela Bassett, Robert Forster, Melissa Leo, Radha Mitchell, Charlotte Riley, Jackie Earle Haley, Sean O’Bryan, Waleed Zuaiter, Mehdi Dehbi, Colin Salmon, Patrick Kennedy, Bryan Larkin, Michael Wildman, Andrew Pleavin, Deborah Grant, Clarkson Guy Williams, Penny Downie, Philip Delancy, Alex Giannini, Nancy Baldwin, Nigel Whitmey and Tsuwayuki Saotome
In London for the Prime Minister’s funeral, Mike Banning discovers a plot to assassinate all the attending world leaders.
London Has Fallen has us once again following Secret Service agent Mike Banning, who now heads the U.S. Presidential detail. After the events of Olympus Has Fallen, the sequel takes place two years later President Benjamin Asher receives word that British Prime Minister James Wilson has died. They, along with several World leaders arrive in London to attend his funeral but all of a sudden they are attacked, resulting in the leaders being killed off, except Asher and Banning. As the two of them race around London to escape those behind the attack still pursuing them, it’s up to the Vice President and the President’s staff, along with head of the Metropolitan Police Service and members of MI6 to help them while finding the man responsible behind todays attack.
London Has Fallen is the sequel to 2013’s Olympus Has Fallen, this time with Antoine Fuqua’s directing duties being passed on to Babak Najafi (who directed two very good episodes of Banshee during the shows second season and also 2012 film Easy Money II: Hard to Kill. Here we follow once again Secret Service agent Mike Banning, who is now contemplating handing in his resignation to President Benjamin Asher as his wife Leah is expecting to give birth pretty soon and he wants to be around during the kids childhood. Upon learning that the British Prime Minister is dead, he travels along with the President and Lynne Jacobs, the Director of the United States Secret Service, they along with several world leaders, head to London for the funeral. Unbeknownst to them an army of terrorists have planned to kill all of the world leaders once they arrive and they achieve their goal for the most part, with only Asher escaping along with Banning and Jacobs. This leads to them trying to escape from the terrorists pursuing them around the streets of London.
I’ll admit that I enjoyed Olympus Has Fallen for the sake that it felt like a Die Hard film located in the White House as it follows the one man army trope taking on a group of terrorists and the sequel still goes with the same premise here but on a larger scale of using an entire city rather just one building. The initial attack sequence of taking out the world leaders etc. I thought was well done and edited and some of the hand to hand combat scenes worked well thanks to Najafi not adopting the shaky cam option to execute these scenes. The interaction between Butler and Eckhart’s characters at times is entertaining as Banning deliberately drops 80’s style one liners in taking the hand out of Asher and the two deliver fine performances from what is asked of them.
The problem that comes with the film is that bigger doesn’t mean better and it doesn’t help that the studio expect the director and his crew to do a sequel on a larger scale on a budget this is a fraction smaller than that on the original film (Olympus Has Fallen = $70m, London Has Fallen = $60m) and this hurts the film, especially when it comes to the special effects department which has been targeted for the way explosions look in the film (for me in particular it comes to an explosion on the River Thames that just looks like the black demon smoke effect from Supernatural) and the CGI effect of blood splatter on bullet hits etc. The film has a lot (and I mean a lot) of characters coming back into the fold as well as introducing new ones and unfortunately you don’t feel the need to care or like any of them as they’re just there to progress the film forward and explain what is going on, even the films key villain is handled low-key that you don’t feel any danger from his presence when he appears on screen, even though on paper you can sympathise for his reasons for launching the attack though it’s not explored beyond the label of the film needing a villain to be bad for the sake of our heroes having to overcome something. There’s a certain mole angle used as a sub-plot here that doesn’t really offer much to the film (as it could easily be removed and it doesn’t really affect the journey of Banning/Asher) though it does have a well shot scene to conclude that plot. Basically the film feels like a season’s premise of 24 cut from 24 episodes into an over 90min feature.
Unnecessary sequel happens to be bigger scale yet done cheaper which happens to affect the feel of the overall film in terms of the special effects, which is rather unfortunate. Butler and Eckhart have good chemistry and Najafi does a good job in directing certain scenes, including those involving hand to hand combat, but the story is much like the main antagonist of the film….forgettable. Worth the ninety-minute runtime if you enjoy your popcorn action films. 4/10