London Has Fallen (2016)
London Has Fallen (2016)

Genre: Action Running Time: 1 hr. 39 min.

Release Date: March 4th, 2016 MPAA Rating: R

Director: Babak Najaf Actors: Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Morgan Freeman, Angela Bassett, Melissa Leo, Radha Mitchell, Robert Forster, Jackie Earle Haley, Charlotte Riley, Colin Salmon

 


 

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efore he can submit his resignation from the Presidential Protection Division, Secret Serviceman Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) is called back into action to escort President Benjamin Asher (Aaron Eckhart) to London, after the British Prime Minister passes away. The funeral brings the leaders of dozens of countries together in one place, allowing international arms dealer Aamir Barkawi (Alon Aboutboul) to initiate a scheme of mass terror. Destroying and occupying key landmarks across the British capital, Kamran Barkawi (Waleed Zuaiter) carries out his father’s orders to execute the gathered officials. With hundreds of enemy militants closing in around them, Banning and Asher must evade their pursuers and coordinate with Vice President Alan Trumbull (Morgan Freeman) in the U.S. to devise a plan to defeat the terrorists.

It’s nearly impossible for a sequel to outdo the original, primarily because the very nature of a follow-up is not to improve upon faults, but rather to capitalize on past successes. “London Has Fallen” doesn’t subscribe to that theory, however, as it has unexpectedly located and addressed every shortcoming presented in 2013’s “Olympus Has Fallen.” It’s as if the filmmakers picked up on all the critiques and areas that underwhelmed, and targeted those points specifically for an overhaul in this proceeding chapter. The result is not a perfect picture – but the amplification in quality and amusement is so significant, it makes this product appear unusually superior to its predecessor.

Korean unification fighters have been replaced by Pakistan-based extremists, and the arena for warfare is now London instead of the White House. But, ironically, the subject is still very much about a U.S. president (the unluckiest one of them all) and his top Secret Service agent, attempting to survive a hostile situation while government personnel and military advisers watch idly from massive monitors. Radha Mitchell is still the inconsiderable wife (now inhabiting a more tolerable bit part as the humanizer for the herculean bodyguard), Angela Bassett is still the leader of the protection detail, and Melissa Leo, Robert Forster, and Morgan Freeman all return as various cabinet members or interchangeable politicians. And, despite a venue shift to the Westminster Cathedral, the inevitable storming of a heavily guarded landmark still features shots of machinegun fire dancing across white pillars, stone steps, and human bodies.

What has changed, spectacularly for the better, is the amount and caliber of the humor. Now that the very serious-minded Antoine Fuqua has been replaced by director Babak Najafi (and a couple of extra writers were brought on board), an appreciable wit is introduced, allowing for snappier one-liners (save for the subtle yet silly “Get to the chopper!”), better threats/insults, and far more gratifying enemy kills. Engaging in Bond or Bourne-like car chases, “Cloverfield” levels of destruction, shootouts in abandoned city streets and subways (like something out of a zombie movie), and video game-styled infiltrations, “London Has Fallen” also excels in pure action. The choreography is snazzier, the cinematography is more suspenseful, and the bloodshed is better integrated into the mayhem. It’s no masterpiece, but the improvements are so surprisingly noticeable that it’s difficult not to be impressed. Surely, few audiences will expect such attention to gung-ho satisfaction and explosive thrills from a sequel to an underperforming actioner originally debuting in the slow month of March.

– The Massie Twins

  • 6/10