I’m going to call this… “Gerard Butler’s Redemption”. I know I shouldn’t bring up a completely different film in this review. However, when you have a big movie star – that star being Gerard Butler, of course – release two big budget action films back-to-back or weekend-to-weekend, however you wanna call it, and the first film is a CGI globstain called Gods of Egypt, one has to hope, especially if you saw the film I just mentioned, his second offering, London Has Fallen – sequel to Olympus Has Fallen, in case you didn’t know – would be a hell of a lot better. Mr. Butler obviously doesn’t have full control over how these films turn out, but if he were to have two back-to-back flops in the span of two weeks, his status as a leading man would be in serious jeopardy… again… because it was before. Well, I can promise you this, and this shouldn’t be a massive shocker, London Has Fallen is a hell of a lot better than “Gods of Cheez-its”. But how good is it, you might ask. Well, read on, man.I didn’t write this shit for nothing.
The basic plot is many of the world’s leader, US President Benjamin Asher (Aaron Eckhart) included, travel to London to attend the funeral for the British prime minister. A vengeful terrorist sees this as an opportunity to wipe them out through a series of coordinated attacks. Secret Service Agent Mike Banning (Butler) manages to get President Asher away from ground zero, but they still have to survive in the city that’s been overrun by terrorists until they can be rescued. It’s a basic action plot made to give you some big scale action.
Olympus Has Fallen came out in 2013. It received a mixed critical reaction but earned some big bucks at the box office. That’s because action fans ate it up, myself included. When it was released, it felt like there was an abundance of CGI infested, PG-13 action films that played it too safe. Olympus was refreshing because it gave action fans old school, hard R rated, ass kicking action, with a macho hero who was a proficient marksman, skilled at hand-to-hand combat, and great at spitting one-liners. Gerard Butler played that character so well, you couldn’t help but root for him. Because why wouldn’t you root for an all-American hero played by a Scotsman? London Has Fallen comes to us at a time when there’s plenty of good action movies to go around. Fortunately, it’s a welcomed addition to the bunch.
Babak Najafi directed this sequel. I don’t know who this guy is, but dammit, sign him up for more action movies, please. What I like about this sequel, while it definitely has a bigger scale, and rather than stay in one location, it hops around a city, is there’s still a lot of intense close-quarter combat and plenty of danger for our hero, Banning. The bigger scale is well utilized too. We get some cool chase sequences, plenty of destruction, and an awesome, I mean totally freakin’ awesome single-take tracking shot involving Manning storming the terrorists’ base alongside the British military. I was not expecting a tracking shot from this film, especially one so explosive and satisfying. I’m a fan of gunplay in action movies, and I got more than my time’s worth.
Banning was great as a lone-wolf in Olympus, but here, him and Asher are rarely apart. That is not necessarily a bad thing. Butler and Eckhart make a good team. They have plenty of playful banter with each other. It’s also nice to see Ackhart heavily involved with the action, rather than being handcuffed the whole movie. Yes, he does pick up guns and fights alongside with Butler. It would have pissed me off if he ducked and hid unarmed while Butler did all the work. Thankfully, this movie president got his hands dirty. He’d have my vote.
There are plenty of negatives, must of which I don’t give a shit about because this is an action movie with a far-fetched plot, based on a sequel with another far-fetched plot. So fuck it, give me good action, and I’m good. Okay, okay, I gotta be critical in some areas, and there’s issues where negative criticism is justified. The most troublesome issue is the fact that they apparently used the same crappy CGI from the first film. The budget for this sequel was around $60 million, surprisingly $10 million less than Olympus. Still, there were some CG effects I think could have been better and cheaper with practical effects. Never the less, CG was used, and in one scene involving a helicopter rescue attempt, it looked baaaad. I miss the days where we could see real aircraft in movies. There’s also some corny moments involving the President’s cabinet as they watch the events unfold from Washington. Plenty of typical movie reactions ensue. There’s plenty of “oh, my god”‘s, lots of sighing, there’s even a guy who straight up says: “I can’t watch”. Yes, Morgan Freeman, who now plays the vice president, collects his paycheck and moves on. Gerard Butler doesn’t have as many good one-liners either. That kind of sucked.
One more issue, and we’ll be on our merry way. We meet an MI6 agent named Jax who helps Banning and the President get through the city safely. She seems like an interesting character but she has no development at all. It would have been cool to see an important female presence involved with this franchise, but alas… (sigh). There is a subplot involving her suspecting a mole in MI6 who leaked information to the terrorists. This is a subplot hardly worth talking about, but when all the major events wrap up and this issue is revisited, it makes you say: “Oh, yeah, this is happening”. Then it wraps up and you don’t care. It feels really unneeded and out of place.
Let’s be real, London Has Fallen was never meant to be nothing more than a thrill ride. I feel it succeeds in more ways than I expected it to, while some of its negatives obviously stand out and lower it’s quality. Still, this is a must see for action fans and anyone who had their eyes strained by the last theatrical release Gerard Butler was involved with. London Has Fallen is not thought provoking entertainment, but it damn sure is fun.
My Stuffed Burrito Entertainment rating is a 4 outta 5
Special Thanks to MovieManCHAD for the tagline in the title.