A few years removed from the disastrous events of Olympus Has Fallen, Secret Service agent Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) is still defending President Benjamin Asher (Aaron Eckhart) from the danger that is always lurking. However, Banning is about to have his first child, and he's seriously considering submitting his resignation. Unfortunately, all of that is put to the side when the British Prime Minister suddenly dies, with most of the world leaders heading to his funeral. Banning, Lynn Jacobs (Angela Bassett) and Asher head to London for the event, which is billed as one of the most heavily protected events in human history. Yeah, right. Soon enough, Aamir Barkawi (Alon Aboutboul) and his army of revenge-seeking terrorists hijack the capital, assassinating world leaders and putting the life of President Asher in severe danger. As usual, it's up to the always-resourceful Banning to save the future of the free world.
It would be easy to place all of the blame on relatively inexperienced director Babak Najafi, who was previously best known for Easy Money II: Hard to Kill. But that would be a big mistake. Surprisingly, Najafi's directing is solid, bringing some intensity to the otherwise rote action scenes. There's a spectacular tracking shot that feels like it's in the wrong movie, sweeping us through a high-octane street fight with an impressive sense of energy. It was one of the few moments where I felt excited by what I was watching on the screen, and it was so good that it actually took me out of the movie (not that I was complaining).
Unfortunately, the rookie director seems to be the only one who showed up to work. The cast is mostly wasted on a group of thin characters, with esteemed actors like Morgan Freeman, Melissa Leo, and Robert Forster working with material that literally isn't there. Aaron Eckhart's President Asher has no definition whatsoever, Angela Bassett is stuck with one of the dumbest moments in a really dumb movie, and Jackie Earle Haley just sits there. Gerard Butler does fine with the action scenes, but he lacks the likability to turn a dimwitted character into someone that the audiences cares about. The screenwriting team has a basic misunderstanding of what makes a character like this work. In Die Hard, John McClane is smart, clever and resourceful. He's in a tough situation, and the audience can relate to that. In contrast, Mike Banning is purely unlikable- brash and brutal, this is a character that does so many unnecessarily violent things that it's sickening to a point.
But honestly, none of this is especially shocking considering the fact that the team of four screenwriters don't seem to get much of anything right. On top of having nothing but two-dimensional stock characters, London Has Fallen abandons any sense of logic in favor of spectacle. The film barely runs 100 minutes, and yet, I would bargain that a good hour of it is spent solely on bombastic action scenes, with effects that would barely work in the early 1990s. Oh, but it only gets worse. On top of that, the villains are as flat and uninteresting as possible, mixing cliched motivations with poor characterization. Led by Barkawi, they're Middle Eastern terrorists (of course!) who are hellbent on revenge, and have magically created this grand plan to kill everybody. Don't ask about the "How?" or the "Why?" and it all plays swimmingly. Basically, if you don't care about things like plot or character development, it's a blast.
To close out my review of this lovely movie that I hope to never speak about again, I'll give you a brief description of a scene from London Has Fallen. Mike gets a terrorist on the phone, who in turn, informs Mike that his name is Kamran. Banning responds by saying something to the extent of: "All right, you listen here Cameron. I'm ready to come in, kick your ass and send you back to whatever Stan you came from." It was like listening to something from Cloyd Rivers' Twitter page. Except it was in a movie. A movie that I paid money to see.
Hollywood. Please stop this madness before it's too late.
THE FINAL GRADE: D (4/10)
Image Credits: Variety, Hollywood Reporter, Screen Rant, Joblo