So here’s the thing… Mainstream critics didn’t like Olympus Has Fallen. So it’s really no surprise they didn’t care (to put it lightly) for the pond-hopping sequel, London Has Fallen.
Well, screw ‘em. This isn’t for them anyway.
London Has Fallen takes everything you thought was insane about the original and dials it up a notch. If Olympus was red-blooded, borderline psychotic, don’t ask questions, shoot-first-ask-questions-later American whoop ass turned up to 11… Then London turns it up to 12.
In other words, if you enjoyed Olympus, you’ll likely have a place in your heart for London.
As you can probably tell from the trailers, London picks up shortly after the events of Olympus. President Asher (Aaron Eckhart) is still running the show. And since the events of the first film, his bromance with ultra badass Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) has only gotten stronger. The White House is totally repaired (and not at all fortified or under heightened security). Banning and his wife are expecting their first kid. He’s drafting his resignation letter.
The problem is that a few years earlier, the U.S. launched a drone strike on Aamir Barkawi (Alon Aboutboul)—one of the most wanted arms dealers and all around dirtbags on the FBI’s most wanted list. The strike against Barkawi isn’t launched on his home or a desert arms deal with other bad dudes, but at his daughter’s wedding.
He and his son, Kamran (Waleed Zuaiter), survive. His daughter—and the rest of the wedding party—does not. Innocents die. Vengeance is sworn. Etc.
Back to the present. The Prime Minister of England has died of a sudden heart attack. World leaders are expected to attend on short notice. Of course, Banning and the secret service are on edge because they have little time to plan. And with some of the world’s most powerful politicians in attendance, President Asher can’t have the show revolve around his security.
The leaders of the Western world are all in one place. Security is loose. And there are about a million variables to keep an eye on. It’s the perfect time for a Barkawi to exact revenge. And boy does he.
When things go bad, they go really bad. The police are infiltrated. Prime ministers are killed in the streets. Banning and President Asher escape by the skin of their teeth. But when their chopper is shot down with no backup or extract plan to speak of, things really pick up.
After Escape From New Yorking their way through the locked-down streets of London, Banning and President Asher (who, after a dark encounter in an abandoned subway station is now the most badass president since Teddy Roosevelt) find themselves in a real pickle.
Specifically, the bad guys get President Asher. The plan is to execute him live online for the whole world to see. So, the movie shifts from “we gotta get outta here” to “we gotta get him back!”
You can pretty much guess where it goes from there.
The action sequences are very solid. Good chase sequences, some brutal kills, and great McClane moments (“Fu*k me? Fu*k YOU!”). But at the same time, a lot of them seem totally uninspired. For every unique or memorable kill, there’s two or three vanilla point-and-shoot moments.
A terrorist? Bam! Got him. Another! Bam! That was close.
Then there’s the dialogue. There are zingers. And there’s plenty of over-the-top, fourth-grade threats and reactions to be had—Banning says “terrorist assholes” a few times. I’m not sure if the goal was to get the audience to chant “USA” or not. But it falls short.
But here’s the saving grace. It never takes itself too seriously. The basic formula from Olympus remains the same, but this movie feels a little lighter. Almost like a buddy cop movie at times. There’s just enough character development to give the movie a plot. And for what this movie is, that’s just fine.
I feel like I should tell you more. But without spoiling some cool scenes, there’s really not much to say. So I’ll leave you with this…
I believe that if they handle this franchise correctly (and a $20 ish million opening weekend against a $60 million budget, there’ll be another one in a few years), it really could be the next Die Hard series: They’re not all spectacular, but they’re fun, and you know what you’re getting.
Are there better sequels? Yes. Are there better action movies? You bet your ass. But London Has Fallen is action-packed, straightforward, and doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s the perfect popcorn action flick with a healthy sprinkling of post 9/11 paranoia, CGI blood, and Morgan Freeman’s (oh yeah, he’s back, or whatever) perfect voice.
For me, it’s a solid 3/5.
What did you think of London Has Fallen? Would you see another? And where/who should “fall” next? Leave a comment and let us know.