Let it be known that I really liked Olympus Has Fallen. It was the best “President gets attacked by terrorists, one man defends him” type of film, which seems absurd – but you have to remember there was two that year, including Roland Emmerich’s White House Down, a film I only half enjoyed. Olympus was an R rated, violent thriller featuring an insanely brutal scene where the bad guys occupied the White House by massacring everyone in front of it – including all the tourists visiting the Washington Monument. It was crazy, Antoine Fuqua made the action fun and Gerard Butler did what he does best, be a stoic one man army that will jam a knife in your skull to save his president. That being said, it really didn’t need a sequel.
Seeming to agree with me was Fuqua himself, who got one look at the script for London Has Fallen and said “uh, nope.” and walked far, far away from the project. This is the first indication that the sequel wouldn’t have the same feeling as the first film. This made way for Charlie Countryman director Fredrik Bond to join the film and then quickly exit due to creative differences, another sign of an unsatisfying production. This then led to Iranian born Scandinavian filmmaker Babak Najafi to come on board, maybe someone a bit more malleable to the studio.
The story of London Has Fallen is set three years after the events of the first film. Mike Banning is still the man in charge of the President’s detail of the Secret Service and preparing for the birth of his first child. Since this is a big change in the tough guy’s life, he is also circling a decision to resign from his post and take up a safer job. Benjamin Asher is still the commander in chief and he and Mike still hold a very close relationship, which will all be put to the test again when all the world leaders are called to gather in London.
This impromptu gathering of these top officials is because the Prime Minister of England has died and everyone is called in to attend the funeral. Of course, this is all set up as a trap to ensnare the President of the United States and eliminate all the other foreign leaders; sending the world into chaos. While the culprits behind the last movies attacks were Korean, without discerning North or South, London’s attack is masterminded by Aamir Barkawi, a Middle Eastern warlord with large army ties and a bloodthirsty need for revenge after an American drone strike kills his entire family at his daughter’s wedding.
From my opening of this review it’s probably easy to glean that this film is not great – and not even good to extend that criticism further. There was really no deeper thought to this movie other than the studios need to capitalize on the success of the first film. This story is easy and lowly written with haphazard plot holes throughout and the script feels like it was thrown together by a group of steroid infused meatheads with the only goal of dropping as many f-bombs as they do bad guys, civilians and explosions. I may be going Roger Murtaugh on this but I’m too old for that shit.
First I want to address this ridiculous plot in which when the attack finally goes down we see that Barkawi’s men have infiltrated absolutely everything including: the security, the London police force, emergency workers and, yes, even the Buckingham Palace guards. All of this seems incredibly ridiculous as the Director of the United States Secret Service, Lynne Jacobs (Angela Bassett) states that they waltzed the President into a trap that they had zero prior warning of. A job and infiltration of this magnitude and there was no leak anywhere? Give me a break!
Then there’s this horrible script prompting the most awful and at times incredibly xenophobic and the “kill em all” attitude will play scarily well in the new Trump fuelled right wing politics. It’s almost like his administration was considered when making this. This leads to some of the most nonsensically f word laden dialogue physically possible, to the point that even the friendly banter between Banning and President Asher comes of as the worst of the 80s and early 90s buddy cop schtick. When Banning is thirsty, he can’t just say he’s thirsty. No, instead he’s “f***ing thirsty.” Was that necessary? No, but neither is the random gay joke that pops up, seemingly written by a fourteen year old boy.
Another exercise where a studio’s greed goes way too far and pushes the line of a film that hanged as a questionably good film, London Has Fallen is an example of the quickest “jumping the shark” possible. The simple fact that action fans would even entertain the idea of the President getting into yet another cat and mouse terrorist chase-down is pretty small and while some of the audience will be satisfied with the multitude of head shots, blood splatter and things that go boom, there will be a large part of viewers that will know these filmmakers don’t respect your mind, just your wallet. Heck, Gerard Butler didn’t respect you enough to give you an equal caliber movie as he serves as a producer on this hellacious garbage as well. Hopefully we’ll see in box office returns if they duped moviegoers. I give London Has Fallen a one and a half out of five.