London Has Fallen isn’t a horrible movie to sit through, but it is a horrible movie to think about.
There are two things I found out about London Has Fallen that I found very bizarre. First, it’s a sequel to Olympus Has Fallen from 2013. Apparently, enough people went to see this movie that a studio invested in making a second one, which is pretty disconcerting seeing as how crappy this one is. If the sequel was anything like the original, then both would have to be terrible. Second, it was directed by one Babak Najafi, an Iranian filmmaker. This part really boggles my mind, because aside from London Has Fallen being a dumb movie, it’s also fear-mongering, xenophobic propaganda.
Gerard Butler returns as the hardass secret service agent, Mike Banning, personal body guard to President Ben Asher (Aaron Eckhart) and, this time, a soon-to-be father. Going too far into the plot and character backgrounds won’t be too helpful since it was clearly written for total convenience. The whole expecting father angle is never really used as a source of tension, and the attempt to portray Banning as sensitive and fatherly is pretty incongruous with the fact that he has no regard for human life when in the line of duty. This is just a chase movie. All the world leaders convene in London to attend the funeral of the British prime minster, and middle-eastern terrorists use this event as an opportunity to execute the largest and most devastating terrorist attack the World has ever seen. The only surviving president (the American one— Go us!) and Mike Banning must escape the terrorists and get home safely.
The movie suffers from cheapness and tone-deafness. There’s some appallingly bad CGI, which doesn’t even make sense considering how big of a budget the movie appears to have. For instance, all the helicopters are fake even though they could have easily just shot a real one. There are jarring and inappropriate tonal shifts. While the impact on international relations and public welfare are treated very seriously, the actions scenes are completely over-the-top and sometimes humorous. Some characters are introduced as noble and level-headed, but then, in later scenes, they say silly lines like “make those fuckers pay”. The most hilarious blunder was including title cards for every public official in the film, even if they only had a couple lines. I half expected to see a janitor walk into a room to empty the trash and a title card to scroll on screen saying his full name and official job title.
While this isn’t a whole lot to justify hating it, the film’s message (intended or not) is what makes it insufferable. The writers couldn’t have had less tact. In the beginning, when all the world leaders are introduced, they’re shown as either oblivious or stereotypical. The fictional president of Italy was shown touring British monuments with his 30-year-old mistress and being really touchy-feely. The French president was dismissive and pampered-looking (and a boat blew up in his face. Yeah! Take that, France! Never mind that you actually did have several devastating terrorist attacks last year). And then you’ve got the opportunistically hostile references to middle-easterners. The terrorists were able to accomplish their attack by working undercover in the British police force. In one scene, an MI6 operative says something along the lines of, “they’re dressed in our clothes; our men are getting ambushed,” which, to me, is clearly playing on fears of middle-eastern and Muslim assimilation into our society.
These are just the major, glaring problems. There are tons of other smaller instances of ignorance, paranoia, and general cinematic incompetence. Overall, I’ve never seen a movie be more brazenly insensitive and morally repugnant in this day and age. London Has Fallen isn’t a horrible movie to sit through, but it is a horrible movie to think about. | Nic Champion