When Olympus Has Fallen came out three years ago it felt like a harmless retread of Die Hard, with a small injection of Xenophobia. Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) ran around the White House trying to save the President of the United States (Aaron Eckhart) and machine-gunned the cookie cutter middle eastern terrorists with a vague plan to destroy the world.
Since that movie made a ton of money, as most bad movies with jingoistic overtones do, we now have a sequel called London Has Fallen. You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to figure out that this is the exact same film once again, with the shooting location shifting to London. It is also predictably much worse than the first film.
This time Banning and the POTUS arrive in London to attend the funeral of the British Prime Minister, and against all odds the terrorists swoop down upon them to rain bullets and bombs. You’d imagine an event where the world’s top leaders gather would probably be secured to the hilt. So the four screenwriters of the film insert a super smart tactic to address how the attack takes place – the terrorists are disguised as cops.
And that’s pretty much the peak of ingenuity and imagination in the film - the plot lurches on from one explosion to another, with Banning and the terrorists spraying bullets at each other like pichkaaris on Holi. The terrorist leader meanwhile barks threats on TV about how he would flatten every major city around the world.
But it’s not the plot that frustrates the viewer – plenty of action films that have lousy storylines (Die Hard 2, John Wick) are fun because the action in the films has some new and interesting edge. John Wick also had some hilarious subversive quality which made fun of action film tropes. Unfortunately director Babak Najafi plays it straight in London Has Fallen, presenting the movie as if it’s the next level in action filmmaking, when all it does is remind you of every single bad straight to VHS 90s thriller.
London Bridge falls, buildings explode and our heroes run through the rubble as the United States flag flutters in the chaos, and jingoistic dialogue emanates reassuring you that America will save the whole world. The CGI in the scenes where the touristy landmarks are destroyed will get your palm closer to your face.
The film also isn’t making a nuanced point on terrorism, because Banning mouths lines like ‘Why don’t you guys pack up your shit and head back to Fuckheadistan’. Every brown dude around is a terrorist until proven otherwise, Banning later says. It feels like the four screenwriters had the singular mission to appease Donald Trump and his most ardent followers.
The performances in the film make you side with the terrorists. You get a top cast of Eckhart, Angela Basset (a Secret Service honcho), Melissa Leo (Defense honcho), Jackie Earle Haley (White House honcho), and Morgan Freeman (POTUS) all phoning in their performances, making no effort to hide the fact that they’re in this movie for the easy money. Ironically Freeman disclosed in a recent interview that this film made him very rich, and the director has previously made a movie called Easy Money 2.
To eradicate awful memories of these Fallen films the sequel that the world needs is John Wick 2. And if you’ve see the recent viral video of Keanu Reeves prepping for the shoot you’ll already be standing in the ticket line for the movie that releases next February.