When you see what the U.S. president in London Has Fallen goes through, you have to wonder why Donald Trump wants this gig in the first place. A pointless sequel to 2013’s surprise hit Olympus Has Fallen — in which the commander in chief and the White House were under siege by terrorists — now sees the same scenario played out on a global basis as the world’s leaders gather in London for the funeral of the British Prime Minister, who died suddenly. Considering the high level of terrorism today, you might think this would be the most protected, impenetrable place on Earth. Uh, no.
Before they can kneel down to say a prayer for the poor bloke, all bloody hell breaks loose as multiple heads of state are assassinated and several of the city’s famed landmarks are blown to bits. Once again, Secret Service agent Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) is there to protect President Asher (Aaron Eckhart), who is thrust into the middle of all the carnage when lethal arms dealer Aamir Barkawi (Alon Moni Aboutboul) targets him for a death to be seen worldwide via the Internet. It seems a U.S.-backed drone hit his daughter’s wedding two years earlier, killing her and many guests. It is sweet revenge time, and the trophy he really wants is the president’s head.
After all he went through when the White House was taken over, you would think better precautions might have been taken than just having Banning and Secret Service director Lynn Jacobs (Angela Bassett) along for the ride. But as he proved before, Banning is really more than just a Secret Service agent: He’s a Rambo-like fighting machine who can take out 100 terrorists with no problem. Of course, in London Has Fallen‘s swift running time he helps to maneuver the prez in and out of terrible scrapes including car chases and helicopter crashes before the Chief Executive is (once again) nabbed by the bad guys and prepared to have his head chopped off live on the web. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, er, White House, new Vice President Trumbull (Oscar winner Morgan Freeman) — the last one was killed off in the first movie — presides over a situation room full of clueless U.S. officials. Occasionally he gets on the phone with Barkawi, but mostly he reacts with horror on his face and lines like, “Oh my God.” Also watching things unfold as events are reported is Banning’s concerned pregnant wife (Rahda Mitchell).
But most of the film is just an excuse for nonstop action of the most ridiculous kind. As I say in my video review (click the photo above to watch), I sort of was entertained by the first film in this hoped-for franchise, but this one, despite a bigger canvas, is rather boring and completely predictable. The sight of the president of the United States as basically a punching bag and gun-toting leader of the free world is even more absurd than anything playing out this election year (well, almost).
On the plus side, Butler proves his mettle as an action star, and the film’s casting is refreshingly diverse with both Freeman and Bassett in roles that might have gone to white actors in another era, or in her case, a man. It’s a shame, then, that all they are given are LOL cliche lines both these fine actors could deliver in their sleep. Oscar-nominated stars Jackie Earle Haley and Robert Forster are given virtually nothing to do but look concerned. Director Babak Najafi knows how to blow stuff up, if nothing else. The script remarkably wasn’t made up as they went along and somehow is credited to four writers: the original’s creators Creighton Rothenberger & Katrin Benedikt and Christian Gudegast and Chad St. John. Producers are Butler, Alan Siegel, Mark Gill, John Thompson, Matt O’Toole and Les Weldon. Gramercy Pictures, a division of Universal, presents the film in association with Avi Lerner’s Millennium Films and releases it Friday.
Do you plan to see London Has Fallen? Let us know what you think.