Review: 'London Has Fallen' an action throwback


Fans of 1980s action will recognize "London Has Fallen's" set up. A veteran Secret Service agent (Gerard Butler) is about to hang up their holster but gets sucked in for one last, dangerous job.

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It's a heady mix of "Lethal Weapon" and "Die Hard" where characters say things right out of the tough guy playbook like "Do me a favour… Stay alive," and ethnic stereotypes never die.

After saving POTUS from a terrorist attack inside the White House in "Olympus Has Fallen," Butler is back for a second go round as Mike Banning, secret service agent extraordinaire. He's about to become a father and wants to leave his old life behind. In fact, he's typing out a letter of resignation when he gets a call from the Oval Office. The British Prime Minister has died suddenly and President Benjamin Asher (Aaron Eckhart) has to go to England for the state funeral.

With only 24 hours to plan the trip Banning is nervous about security but is assured that this will be "the most protected event on earth."

London Has Fallen film review

Of course the funeral is not protected enough or the movie would be called "London Has Not Fallen." A massive terrorist attack kills several world leaders, hundreds of innocent bystanders and decimates most of the landmarks in the British capital.

Turns out the man responsible for the attack, an arms dealer named Barkawi (Alon Aboutboul), has a personal grudge against Asher and doesn't care how many people he has to kill to get his vengeance. Banning is a formidable one-man army—his Spidey senses are always tingling—but will he be able to keep the President safe and prevent the what's left of London from collapsing into the Thames?

"London Has Fallen" is terror-porn of the highest order, but while half of London is covered in CGI ashes, there is an inherent lack of stakes because you know in your heart that nothing is going to happen to the President. He may be bloodied but by the time the end credits roll it is a guarantee he will be unbowed.

London Has Fallen film review

So, with no real tension, what's left? Plenty of 80s inspired action, that's what. Like a lost relic from John McClane's heyday the movie presents a main character who could be a case study in 'Hero or Psychopath' 101. He causes carnage with a twinkle in his eye, torturing and killing people in the name of protecting the Prez.

It's all action, all the time, feeling like a throwback to a time when grim faced heroes took on impossible odds—"There's nearly 100 terrorists in there," Banning is told before entering a terror hive alone. "They should've brought more men," he grunts.—spouted one liners and the bad guys were anyone with an exotic accent.

It's not particularly enlightened in its world outlook and dismisses the female members of the cast—all of Oscar winner Melissa Leo's lines could be written on the head of a pin—but if you choose not to think about it much, it's good, high-octane fun.

Just as dangerous as the bullets and bombs on display is the minefield of tough guy clichés Butler navigates.

"I never thought you'd outlive me…" BOOM! "The only person you trust right now is me!" BANG! Like an endlessly looping GIF the banalities never stop. Butler delivers them with gusto, but don't go to "London Has Fallen" looking for witty or original dialogue. Very little has been done to update the story from its 80s roots. Now the bad guys broadcast on the internet—"It's on social media!" screams a near hysterical Deputy Chief Mason (Jackie Earle Haley)—but that's about it for new ideas.

To sum it up: You've seen "London Has Fallen" before, but you've never seen it quite like this.


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