Hollywood has a great love for blowing shit up – the bigger the city or even planet, the better. And audiences have responded pretty well to them too, to the point where you can expect one of these styles of film to release once a year. They’re dumb, simple,but the very definition of plain fun. So what does Lionsgate’s latest effort “London Has Fallen” have to offer?
Well, not much in the sense of the story, that’s for certain. The World’s political leaders meet in London for the funeral of the recently deceased U.K. Prime Minister. Secret Service Agent Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) is tasked with keeping U.S. President Asher (Aaron Eckhart) safe, but a mass terrorist attack upon the city leaves many leaders dead. Big boom, two guys trying to survive the chaos, lots of action, you get the gist of it.
And to be fair, none of us are here for deep, contemplative plot aspects, or character arcs that give satisfying endings. We’re here for the loud explosions and seeing shit get fucked up, right? Well, you get a bit of that. Some of London’s landmarks are indeed hit, but not in a way that emphasises the scale of what is unfolding. Brief explosions from a distance, no sense of how the damage looks from ground level. Even something like “Olympus Has Fallen” was able to show that off to better effect, although I enjoyed “White House Down” more personally. Gerard Butler puts in a very unmemorable delivery, he is for all intents and purposes a grunt that has more dialogue to say and somehow has a close friendship with the President. Even the likes of Morgan Freeman as the Vice President is given nothing of worth to offer, although it must have been an exceedingly quick cheque for him to get I’m assuming.
Let it be said however, that I’ll admit that some of the action sequences do feel well thought out. Butler performs better when he is striking off bad guys one by one by whatever means he can, and the scene where he and an SAS team are making ground down a street full of enemies is the best the film can offer. The edits are good, there’s some nice creativity to the set up, it feels like you are right in the battle, and even the lighting, usually the poison to so many scenes like this, is enough to let you see everything that happens. I’ll give them praise for that much at the very least, nice bit of work.
After that everything falls apart in such a disappointing fashion. For a feature that is set within London and all of the big landmarks, the level of American flag-waving and patriotism is almost a joke. You can accept it when the movie takes place in the U.S. but why even have the movie in a different location if you are going to retain the same levels while barely giving any time to the British? It was like the idea to set everything in London was an afterthought, it could have been set anywhere else and it would only need a slight bit f editing to the script to achieve the same result.
Running alongside that is an unsettling level of racism that even the series “24” would have thought was being overly-suspicious of “foreigners”. Except for the Leaders in London it is a whitewash of generic white actors even though it is set in one of the most diverse cities in the World. The overall sentiment just feels insensitive to a city hit by terrorism itself, and using identifiers that today are just out of date and not acceptable. The combination of this and the over-patriotism gives off quite unpleasing odour through the running time, one that it never quite shakes off or, even attempts to quite honestly.
But the nail in the coffin is how old-fashioned and dull the script and general design of the story is. Nothing of particular interest happens or takes you by surprise, the dialogue is stale, and the attempts at comedic moments to break up the action are hopeless. Again, it couldn’t have been that hard to take a fresh approach to this style of film when all of the other ingredients can be kept so simple, but I was left in a daze in my chair while each of the three acts rolled by on screen. Generally speaking you can either create a lighter, comedic style of disaster film, or one that has never-ending action. This tried to hit for the middle and ended up in a wasteland.
“London Has Fallen” was not just disappointing, but sorely lacking in those big building-crushing moments and structure to the tempo. The old-fashioned outlook on things is very unpleasant, it is notably unfunny, and doesn’t have anything interesting for the cast to provide. To be honest here, this didn’t leave me mad or insulted, it was just piss-poor and boring.
You could get an equal or even greater level of entertainment from a direct-to-video release, but then again, the design was just to make a quick buck and then vanish from people’s memories. Well, let me he here to say that if this falls within your vision and you have a night of movie-watching set up, don’t go for this example. Go watch “Independence Day” again and enjoy that classic.
Thanks for reading!