Thursday, 10 March 2016

London Has Fallen (2016)

London Calling, Best to Hang Up

Director: Babak Najafi
Running Time: 99 Minutes
Starring: Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Morgan Freeman, Alon Moni Aboutboul, Angela Bassett, Robert Forster, Melissa Leo, Radha Mitchell, Charlotte Riley, Colin Salmon, Jackie Earle Haley

2013's Olympus Has Fallen was not without its faults, but at least made use of its confined setting. This aspect gets one upped, as the whole of London is available for the characters to play in. The problem is how underutilized the setting is, as the characters retreat from one drab indoor setting to the next. Sadly, this is merely one of the many apparent problems.

At the funeral of the British Prime Minister, a deadly attack leaves the world leaders killed. Head of Security Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) manages to save President Benjamin Asher (Aaron Eckhart), as the two escape through London to find a safe haven. In Washington, Vice President Trumbull (Morgan Freeman) gets a call from the orchestrator of the attack, Aamir Barkawi (Alon Moni Aboutboul), who's seeking revenge after a drone strike killed his daughter.

Gerard Butler returns as Mike Banning, one of the many recent attempts to make the next John McClane.  He acts borderline psychotic, excessively murdering a man despite admitting it was unnecessary (presumably an effect of trauma, inflicted by the repeated attacks). The biggest impression Butler leaves is regarding his fluctuating accent, which is more than can be said of Aaron Eckhart. After spending the former film handcuffed to a rail, the contribution of Eckhart's President is so minimal, he may as well have been knocked and hidden for most of the film.


At one point, Babak Najafi weaves a long take into the picture, which works well during the moments which aren't difficult to witness. It's a shame how lazy the remaining action attempts are, as Gerard Butler fires a gun in multiple directions, while delivering stale attempts at weak one liners. They mesh well with the overall dull tone, but the same cannot be said for the effects. They're shockingly poor in quality, noticeable when used, from the smallest use of blood splatter, to a big helicopter sequence. These wouldn't look out of place for a 90s video game, but definitely when used in a big budget film.

Despite four screenwriters, it appears little attempt at actual thought has gone into the script (unless two men who've just survived a crashed helicopter can actually outrun an arsenal of enemies on bikes?). Yet again, the villains plan is needlessly convoluted (if Barkawi wants revenge for America sending the drone, why expand his efforts to target all the other world leaders?), and there are plot holes all throughout (A drone strike decimates an entire wedding, EXCEPT its one actual target?). There's also shiftless attempts at characterization, where all you get are forced laughs and smiles, deemed necessary to sell the idea they're all friends.

As one American security head manages to make London's police force look inept and helpless, there's only one thing left to ponder over. How has a film managed to be so distractingly excessive in its patriotism, that it's managed to leave Michael Bay looking reserved? When you get down to it, no matter how many monuments get destroyed or last minute attempts at commentary get crammed in, London Has Fallen cannot make up for all of its failings. All we're left with is an embarrassing motion picture, likely brought to life through bourbon and poor choices.

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