London Has Fallen

PLOT (spoiler alert):

Western intelligence services of the G8 track down Pakistani arms dealer Aamir Barkawi (Alon Moni Aboutboul) as the mastermind behind several terrorist attacks, and authorize an American drone strike on Barkawi’s compound, apparently killing Barkawi and his family.

Two years later, UK Prime Minister James Wilson suddenly dies, and arrangements are made for the Western world leaders to attend his funeral in London. Secret Service Director Lynne Jacobs (Angela Bassett) assigns agent Mike Banning (Gerard Butler), a close friend of US President Benjamin Asher (Aaron Eckhart), to lead Asher’s security detail while overseas, even though Banning’s wife Leah (Radha Mitchell) is due to give birth to their child in a few weeks. The entourage arrives via Air Force One at Stansted Airport, and Banning pushes their arrival at the Somerset House in London via Marine One earlier. As Asher’s Presidential State Car arrives at St Paul’s Cathedral, a series of coordinated attacks by terrorists disguised as London Metropolitan Police, the Queen’s Guardsmen, and other first responders erupts, killing the other Western leaders, damaging or destroying major landmarks and generating mass panic. Asher’s early arrival has thrown the attack on him at St. Paul’s off-guard, and Banning is able to rescue Asher and Jacobs and rushes them back to Marine One. As the helicopter and its escorts takes off, terrorists fire Stinger missiles at them, destroying the escorts and forcing the damaged helicopter to crash-land in Hyde Park. Banning and Asher suffer only minor wounds, but Jacobs is fatally injured, and she makes Banning promise to get back at whomever did this. Banning quickly escorts Asher into the London Underground as the city’s power is lost and people take shelter in their homes.

In Washington D.C., US Vice President Allan Trumbull (Morgan Freeman) works with the British authorities to investigate the incident while trying to track down the President. Trumbull receives a call from Barkawi, still alive after all and operating out of Yemen. The man takes responsibility for the attacks, coordinated by his son Kamran (Waleed Zuaiter). Barkawi purposely had Wilson poisoned to lure the Western leaders to London to attack them. Barkawi knows Asher is still alive, and promises that if Kamran captures him, he will broadcast the execution of the President on the Internet. Trumbull orders his intelligence staff to local Barkawi’s known operatives to find any connection to the attack, while British authorities have all first responders stand down, so than any left in the open can be identified as terrorists.

After leaving a sign to be picked up by satellite tracking, Banning leads Asher to a MI6 safehouse, where Jacqueline “Jax” Marshall (Charlotte Riley) briefs them on what their intelligence has learned. Marshall receives a coded message from Trumbull that confirms they saw Banning’s sign and that an extraction team is en route. Security monitors show the approach of a Delta Force team, but Banning suspects they have arrived far too soon and may be more terrorists. He covers and fights off the terrorists as Marshall drives Asher away but their car is struck by another vehicle driven by terrorists, allowing Kamran to capture Asher. Banning and Marshall are rescued by the extraction team, a combined Delta Force/SAS squad.

Trumbull’s staff have identified a building in London owned by one of Barkawi’s companies, which still appears to be drawing power, and suspect that is Kamran’s headquarters. Banning joins the extraction team to infiltrate the building and stop Kamran before he can kill Asher. Banning and Asher escape just before the building is destroyed by the Delta Force/SAS squad, killing Kamran and the remaining terrorists. Marshall has worked with British authorities to restore London’s security system, and discovering that MI5 Intelligence Chief John Lancaster (Patrick Kennedy) aided in Barkawi’s attack, she kills him. Meanwhile, Trumbull contacts Barkawi to tell them his planned failed, and then to look outside, moments before his building is attacked by another drone strike, killing him.

Two weeks after the attack on London, Banning is home spending time with Leah and their newborn child, named Lynne after his deceased boss. He sits in front of his laptop and contemplates sending his letter of resignation. On TV, Trumbull speaks regarding the recent events, leaving an inspiring message that the US will prevail. This convinces Banning to delete the letter.

REVIEW:

We live in a world where everytime there is a whisper of a terror plot, security goes on high alert and our elected officials are whisked away to a safe bunker. Not really sure what makes them so much more special than us common folks, but whatever. London Has Fallen takes the situation is something were to happen, though I don’t think anyone would care if something happen to our current president, and runs with it.

What is this about?

After the British Prime Minister has passed away under mysterious circumstances, all leaders of the Western world must attend his funeral. But what starts out as the most protected event on earth, turns into a deadly plot to kill the world’s most powerful leaders and unleash a terrifying vision of the future. The President of the United States, his formidable secret service head and a British MI-6 agent who trusts no one are the only people who have any hope of stopping it.

What did I like?

Raise the stakes. In Olympus Has Fallen, the stakes were limited to keeping the president alive while the White House was under siege. As quickly as this film was released after that one, I was thinking this would be nothing more than the same film, just moved to London. Instead, it turns out that there is an intricate plot to take out all the world leaders and murder the president live over the internet. Much higher stakes than its predecessor!

Not just propaganda. On the surface, this film could come off as US propaganda, but as you watch the film, it becomes clear that they are not just glamorizing the military and making the US seem like the perfect country. As a matter of fact, there is a conversation that Gerard Butler has with one of the hitmen where he says something along the lines of “we may not be as united as we should be, but you can’t f— with us!”

Proper ethnicity. Hollywood has long had a problem with casting people in the correct ethnicity. They either whitewash them, as in Cleopatra, or randomly change the race of a character for no reason, see Fantastic Four (2015). In the era we currently live in, the go-to villainous race, for lack of a better term, happen to be those from the middle-east. The casting directors appeared to actually get actors from that part of the world. Kudos for authenticity!

What didn’t I like?

Cut and paste. As I said earlier, there seemed to be a rush to get this film into production. As such, the script was rushed, causing some creative things to fall by the wayside. While I praise the higher stakes we get with this flick, I couldn’t help but notice that once again Aaron Eckhart’s president character was the proverbial damsel in distress, Radha Mitchell was basically just a cameo, and Gerard Butler was basically playing a live-action first-person shooter. Surely, we deserve to see something better!

R/F switch. Make no mistake, this is a much more violent film than the first. With that said, I can’t help but wonder if all the F-bombs that were dropped were done just to get an R-rating. Not that there is anything wrong with all the cursing, especially in this situation, it was just noticeable for some reason.

You’re my friend, sir. If I recall, Butler and Eckart’s characters are supposed to be friends. So, why is he calling him sir so much? I get there is a protocol when it comes to working with the president, but it just feels as if there should have been some more casual exchanges between the two old friends.

Final verdict on London Has Fallen? This is a good action film. The director obviously knew hat he was doing there. However, the rest of the picture falls short of expectations as the first film was surprise hit with critics. That said, there’s a decent enough plot here to keep you interested between exploding vehicles and military-esque shootouts. Do I recommend this? I really don’t see a reason to watch. If you’re a Gerard Butler fan, you can see him in an actual video game in his film Gamer. As for everyone else, it would be better to keep the memory of the first film and forget this one exists.

3 3/4 out of 5 stars

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