London Has Fallen (2 stars)

London Has Fallen

Unpleasant action sequel, starring Gerard Butler and Aaron Eckhart

‘Things are gonna get sporty,’ quips returning action-man Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) smugly as he launches himself into the line of fire. It’s easy for him to say given that bullets bounce off him like rubber on steel, but everyone else is in deep shit. Transposing Olympus Has Fallen’s President-in-jeopardy plot to the titular city with an increased emphasis on xenophobia and right-wing tub-thumping makes for an unpleasant, occasionally unintentionally amusing blend.

The Iranian-born Babak Najafi (Sebbe) is the surprising helmer of a relentlessly hyperbolic film determined to have its cake and eat it. Banning brags that he’s made of ‘bourbon and poor choices’ (bombast and bull more like), but he’s simultaneously depicted as a bad seed, devoted public servant and family man. When this Secret Service agent / asshole joins a group attending the funeral of the British Prime Minister, they fall into a terrorist trap which aims to take down dozens of world leaders, with President Benjamin Asher (Aaron Eckhart) top of the kill list.

The arrogance of this US production is breathtaking: while the pristinely handsome, honourable Eckhart once again plays the American premier, the rest are a sorry, lazily cast bunch – from sleazy Italian top dog Antonio Gusto, to the weedy excuse for a British PM and the petty French President, and the Met are a bunch of morons. As such, it sometimes plays like a bizarre parody. It can be pretty entertaining once you’ve retuned your expectations, although it lurches into appallingly offensive territory in the form of some of Banning’s take-down quips.

London Has Fallen might satisfy those with an appetite for destruction and the violence has punch for the most part. But with recent films like John Wick, The Raid series and Mad Max: Fury Road elevating the actioner, this kind of sub-Die Hard shoot ‘em-up – fuelled by aggressive patriotism and peppered by racist stereotypes and sickly sentimentality – should have had its day. ‘They’re going to say far too many people have died for no good reason,’ concludes Morgan Freeman’s Vice President Trumbull. Well, quite.

General release from Thu 3 Mar.

London Has Fallen

  • 2 stars
  • 2016
  • US
  • 1h 39min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Babak Najafi
  • Cast: Gerard Butler, Morgan Freeman, Aaron Eckhart
  • UK release: 3 March 2016

When the funeral of a British Prime Minister is attacked by terrorists, Secret Service agent Mike Banning (Butler) launches himself into the line of fire and is unfortunately not killed. Butler does the action-man/asshole schtick in London this time, with the filmmakers dolloping on extra xenophobia, racial stereotypes…