London Has Fallen (2016)

In the Way Back of 2013, Hollywood did that thing that Hollywood sometimes does…and that’s release two nearly identical (plot-wise anyway) flicks in pretty much direct competition with one another…and stand back to see what happens. This happened in 2013 when Popcorn Movie King Roland Emmerich shat out the $150 million Channing Tatum / Jamie Foxx action-comedy-buddy movie that was the hilariously named ‘White House Down’, a couple months after renowned director Antoine Fuqua (‘Training Day’) had, at half that budget, given us the surprisingly entertaining ‘Olympus Has Fallen’. While obviously a ‘Die Hard’ clone (amazing, THAT movie’s cultural impact still), it at least took the majority of the material seriously; preposterous though the plot may be. It was an unapologetic action movie that came with a well-earned hard ‘R’ rating and a comic-book flavor around the ‘edges’…though this may also have been due to some cartoony and noticeably shoddy CG work. Point is…it worked…it was entertaining…and, most importantly, made some cash. And we all know what happens when THAT happens…Inevitable Sequel Territory. 3 years later…here it is.
Taking place some time after the action-packed events of the first flick, we catch up with Still President ‘Ben Asher’ (Aaron Eckhart) and his plucky, Energizer Bunny-of-a-Secret Service agent ‘Mike Banning’ (Gerard Butler), as they go through the day-to-day motions of ‘work n shit’. Word soon hits that the British Prime Minister supposedly died in his sleep, and that a State funeral is required, which in turn requires that the major World Leaders attend in London…El Presidente ‘Asher’ included. So…off they go!! And of course, in short order, about 100 or so terrorist pieces-of-shit begin fucking things up all over the city, nuking major landmarks and wasting anyone that gets in their way…World Leaders included. Naturally, ‘Asher’ and ‘Banning’ find themselves caught in the deadly fray, and must fight to survive…while also shutting the terrorists down with a hefty dose of ‘Murica!’
This is a perfectly serviceable but not too memorable sequel to ‘Olympus Has Fallen’. It’s most certainly a direct continuation, with numerous faces returning from the cast of the first flick. We get little doses of Angela Bassett (‘Strange Days’), Robert Forster (‘Jackie Brown’), Morgan Freeman (‘Se7en’), Radha Mitchell (‘Man on Fire’) and Melissa Leo (‘Oblivion’). This time, they’re also joined by Colin Salmon (‘Resident Evil’) and Jackie Earle Haley (‘Watchmen’). It’s a good cast and it certainly does lend to the continuity between the two films, but in truth, most of these roles are glorified cameos, with the real ‘meat’ going to Eckhart and Butler.
First and foremost, this is an action movie…just like the first one. Nothing more…nothing less. ‘Olympus Has Fallen’ had some very cool action scenes that readily spring to mind (the AC-130 attack, the storming of the White House, etc). Unfortunately, with the exception of a cool ‘one take’ shot (though obviously not done in one take) toward the end, not much really stands out in my mind about it…and I saw it just two hours ago! What I do remember is that I enjoyed the movie for what it was and was entertained by it…especially for a $6.50 Morning Matinee.
One other noteworthy thing is the fact that they downgraded the rating. The first movie came with a solid ‘R’, due to the rampant F-bombs, quick bloody violence and a general undercurrent of casual brutality…which I dig in these kinds of movies (Thanks, ‘Die Hard’!!)…as weird as that might sound. It makes you REALLY want the asshole villains to get their gory comeuppance and it makes it all the sweeter when they finally do! That’s one ‘guilty pleasure’ reason that I still love action movies from the 1980’s…garbage though many may be. Now LOTS of people get the living shit killed out of them in THIS flick, but the exploding heads and spraying bodies have been toned down…along with the stabbings. I seem to recall the first one had a fair bit of stabby knife play. Like blades slammed into skulls, throats, limbs etc. Here, the bullet hits look/sound harsh enough, but they don’t have the ‘crimson smear’ factor of the first movie. That’s not really a complaint…more of an observation.
If I did have to drag a complaint out of the depths, I’d have to say that the CG budget should have had a bit more of the $60 million cost chopped off in it’s favor. That was one thing that slightly marred my enjoyment of the first movie and it did the same here. Some hard-core battle would be raging and then some ‘Roger Rabbit’-looking CG helicopter would come flying through the scene…and it nudged me out of the movie for a moment. But then scores of badly-trained and faceless goons would be cut apart by Banning and POTUS as they lay down some SERIOUS American democracy on the terrorist dick-heads from “Fuckhead-istan”. No bullshit…THIS line is said by Gerard Butler…and was probably one of those ones where you can hear him clearly straining with the Yankee accent. And the sight of Eckhart as The Prez, spraying gunfire at the terrorist hordes with an HK MP5K was pretty hilarious…alongside the ‘Rah Rah America’ line that cheezily and pathetically closes out the movie. CITIZENS OF AMERICA…THIS shit does NOT make you people look good these days!! Going back to the movies from the 80’s, THAT ignorantly patriotic sentiment belongs THERE, in that era…not on our movie screens today. Hell, even ‘Captain America’ got that shit right, injecting a little humility into the festering Cold War Era vision of the ole Red, White n Blue…and that was ‘Captain fuckin America’!! THIS was just SO in-your-face with it…it made me laugh. Luckily, there wasn’t THAT much of THAT shit in this movie…thank Crom! It was just really noticeable when there was.
All in all, ‘London Has Fallen’ is a perfectly acceptable sequel that requires you only to turn your brain off, turn the volume up, and numbly escape with it for 99 violent minutes. It’s got some cool car chases, gnarly-sounding gunfights, 80’s style one-liners and a convincing bad-ass in Gerard Butler…even if sometimes his accent is a lil less than convincing. It’s just another ‘Die Hard’ clone that does what a ‘Die Hard’ clone needs to do. If you liked the first one…you’ll PROBABLY dig this one. You certainly don’t need to seek this one out in the theatres, but if you stumble upon it on a lazy Sunday afternoon with nothing better to do…it’ll painlessly kill an hour and a half of your life.


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