London Has Fallen review: Pulsating action, pedestrian script

  • Jyoti Sharma Bawa, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Mar 05, 2016 09:32 IST
London has Fallen and Gerard Butler is again out rescuing the American president. Then why can’t we seem to care?

London has Fallen
Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Morgan Freeman, Charlotte Riley, Angela Bassett
Director: Babak Najefi
Rating: 2.5/5

Once is a mistake, twice is plain stupidity.

London has Fallen three years after Olympus had Fallen. London had to fall because when Olympus fell, it made a million dollars in sweet, sheer profit and we are talking only of America’s domestic box office here.

Aaron Eckhart’s President Asher has a thing for getting kidnapped. Will Gerard Butler be able to save him from the evil guys again in London has Fallen? (Lionsgate)

So, a scowling Gerard Butler was asked to return , Aaron Eckhart’s US president was told he is under peril once more and Morgan Freeman’s vice-president (he got a promotion since last film, he is no longer the speaker) was given some more speeches on why America does what it does. The stuntman was told to pull up his socks for they were going to action the day lights off this new film and the CGI team instructed that not one single tourist attraction in London should stay standing by the time film ends.

That brought the team to the sticky, little question of the script? Why fix something which ain’t broken, they thought, and brought out Olympus’ script and made it once again. They simply replaced North Korean terrorists with cookie-cutter Pakistani/Middle Eastern ones, shifted the scene of action to London and, yes, that’s about it.

Just for the hell of it, here’s the plot: British prime minister is dead and most of the world leaders are there for the state funeral. Evil terrorists will ensure most of them are dead; the last man standing is American President Asher (Aaron Eckhart) who had the good sense to appoint Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) as his security head. From then on, it is a violence-fuelled, drunk-on-testosterone action fest where Butler will slash, strangle and shoot to keep his president alive. He will also use bombs, but that’s a discussion for later.

First, for the good news: As an action fest with no-holds-barred violence, this film works. There are elaborate setpieces which will keep you entertained throughout the film. The scene where world leaders are attacked in various parts of London is well executed just as the film’s climax.

If you like destruction porn, London has Fallen is the film for you. The CGI may not be the best we have seen in recent times but it does the job. Much more than the London bridge will come falling down as the film progresses. Action junkies, if a popcorn cruncher with enough flag waving is what you are looking for, stop reading this review and book your tickets. The other group of people who should be booking their tickets are Gerard Butler fans. While their numbers would have decimated since Gods of Egypt came out last week where Butler played the God of Brownface bent on world domination, there are still so many of them out there.

He finds himself on the other side of fence in London has Fallen and being patriotic suits him. Yes, he scowls and frowns his way through the film but it is eons better than what we saw last week. Also, president’s knight in shining armour can have a Scottish drawl, not so much an Egyptian god.

Morgan Freeman showed up. That is one thing that works in London has Fallen’s favour. (Lionsgate)

The rest of the cast? They are here to collect their paycheques although Eckhart does put some effort but is hindered by his iron jaw. Morgan Freeman, being Morgan Freeman, makes the tone of the film go up by just showing up. He also brings one of the scarce moments of levity to the film, thanks to an exchange he has early on with Butler.

The biggest falling of Landon has Fallen is its threadbare, Us vs Them script. There are moments you actually want to check if Donald Trump was sort of a script consultant on this one. In here, all brown men are bad, evil people out to destroy the American way of life and all white men are saviours. There may be one or two bad apples but exceptions only prove the rule.

Action and the scenes of mayhem are a strength of this film and an obvious bait for action junkies. (Lionsgate)

At one point, Butler tells a sadistic terrorist, “Go back to your F*ckheadistan or wherever the f*ck you come from.” At another important juncture, he soliloquises, “A**holes like you have been trying to kill us for a long time. But in a thousand years, we will still be here.”

Dialogues, as you can see, are laughable in this film. One last shot and we are done with this subject: When the president comes out of a closet he was hiding in, a straight-faced Butler tells him: “I always knew you will come out of the closet.” Ouch!

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The film also has a south Asia connection – its villain is a Pakistani arms dealer with connections in Middle-East and it actually opens in Punjab on the other side of the border. He also has a deep reflection to share. Early on in the film, he says, “All Pakistani intelligence officers are compromised.” People actually clapped to that in the theatre where I watched this film. It appears there is no substitute for popcorn and patriotism in India or America. London has Fallen crew, get ready to collect.

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