London Has Fallen – 2016
Starring: Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Morgan Freeman, Angela Bassett
Director: Babak Najafi
Words: C. Abbott
Following the increasingly bizarre Hollywood trend of featuring London at the forefront at any opportunity possible, this is one occasion that choice will make you cringe and beg for American soil. The cringe factor resonates throughout, held barely together with boring, flat cinematography, dull uninspired characters and a lacklustre plot that will leave you scratching your head and questioning your life choices. Picking up two years after the White House was subjugated to a devastating terrorist attack, The President (Aaron Eckhart) now has to face a new international crisis.
Opening with a lazy montage of news reports serving simply as exposition and to layout a poorly constructed chronological framework, it truly sets a tone. Yet it is only when the line “bourbon and bad choices” is uttered by are hero Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) that we, the spectators of this crime against genre fiction truly understand what we are about to witness. With a script that seems to be the insipid patriotic lovechild of Oliver Stone and Mel Gibson, the nationalism is high and the logic is low. Xenophobia fuels the cause-effect of the narrative and borderline racist slurs run rampant. At a time when Hollywood is carefully orchestrating a new, progressive image, this brings that image into blinding question. Cruising from one gun fight to another with little regard towards reason, these sequences are vehicles of questionable intent. After Banning offers a terrorist a chance to return to “fuckheadistan” there is a palpable sense of unease that goes beyond the acceptance that 90% of the British services have been taken over by insurgents. There is a sense that this film is promoting hatred and misinformation.
When it comes to these action sequels, often the case is the special effects are only point held up as a saving grace. Yet, not only is this a redundant point when special effects are generally at such a high standard, but it isn’t even true here. The special effects are abysmal. CGI helicopters weaving between tower blocks added in post is one thing, car bombs that defy physics is another. It is impossible to invest in characters that are not only one dimensional but also surrounded by events that are produced in terrible green screen.
Any level of creativity and joy that probably wasn’t put into the first film is gone, replaced by the Hollywood machine seeking to churn out a quick buck. This corporate investment of a sequel is as unwanted as it is unwatchable. No-one asked for this follow up, the characters didn’t deserve it; the narrative didn’t require it and the audience didn’t ask for it. The results are dull as dishwater, subpar trash that will be forgotten to the dustbin of history. Do not watch this.