Directed by Babak Najafi
Starring Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Alon Aboutboul, Morgan Freeman
Film review by Colin Lomas
Sometimes you get the impression that a movie has been composed entirely around the base premise of a trailer and the rest is simply an unwelcome necessary afterthought. When that trailer concerns itself with blowing London’s most famous landmarks to bits and Morgan Freeman looking dreadfully concerned, you suspect that the movie is not going to bother the Oscars too heavily the following year.
The Prime Minister of England has just died from a suspicious heart attack, the subsequent funeral in central London attended by rest of the world’s leaders is a security conundrum of unprecedented scale. Unfortunately, the entire UK’s security, police, secret service and emergency response staff have been inexplicitly compromised by incensed arms dealer Aamir Barkawi (Aboutboul), seeking vengeance for the drone killing of his daughter on her wedding day two years earlier. The majority of leaders are killed in an attack on the capital apart from, surprise surprise, the US president Benjamin Asher (Eckhart), who is lucky enough to be defended by the most nauseatingly supercilious head of security in movie history, Mike Banning (Butler). What follows is a meaningless chain of silly action sequences as the endlessly irritating Banning tries to return his employer to safety.
Saying there are plot-holes in London Has Fallen would unfairly suggest there is a plot, but the general narrative makes very little sense. The characters are pure stock and the tale is horribly strewn with the compulsory emotional family moments which instantaneously make you side with the terrorists. Morgan Freeman’s implausibly predictable wise old man role is becoming a distinct bore, a step out of his safety zone becoming more and more necessitous as each film and identical character passes by.
There is a sadly unsurprising miasma of xenophobia littered throughout the film with jaw-dropping dialog moments; ‘Get back to Fuckheadistan or wherever you’re from’, all the more gloomier and surprising under the watch of Iranian director Bebak Najafi.
Considering the movie was blatantly constructed entirely around the scenes of London’s destruction, a surprising amount of the visual effects are mediocre; the Thames water dispersion from the Chelsea bridge bomb blast in particular has the mis-scaled feel of the Warlords of Atlantis squid attack.
There’s really no excuse for this kind of garbage anymore. Since Lethal Weapon and Die Hard thoroughly redeveloped and modernised the tenements of action movies almost thirty years ago, subsequent comparable films should require more than just gun-toting idiots, one-liners, gore and occasional underhand xenophobia. If you like films that allow the cerebral cortex to concentrate purely on hand-to-popcorn coordination, then London Has Fallen might just kill ninety minutes. If not, it’s one to steer clear of. Either way, this is on a one-way mission straight to Bargainbinistan.