FILM REVIEW: London Has Fallen

London Has Fallen

Mike Banning is back, protecting his POTUS (President of the United States) from an attack on London. But can he keep President Asher alive on the deserted streets of London long enough for them to be rescued? Well, d’uh…..

Another year, another city, another threat to President Benjamin Asher’s life… When a terrifying plot comes to light during a State Visit to London, Secret Service muscle and all round tough guy Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) must once again do whatever it takes to rescue his beloved POTUS – and the free world.

It’s no secret to anyone that knows me that I love action movies. Give me muscles, guns, explosions, Star Spangled Banners and truly terrible one liners and I’m all yours, especially if it’s from the 80’s. So it’s no surprise that Olympus Has Fallen is already up there among my top action movies, only being slightly overtaken by White House Down. Needless to say, I was embarrassingly excited when they announced that they were making a sequel and calling it London Has Fallen. And let’s be honest, with the absolute clusterf**k that is the current state of UK politics, the DVD release of London Has Fallen couldn’t really have been better timed.

The film begins 2 year previously, with a US drone attack on the the wedding of the daughter of Pakistani arms dealer and terrorist leader Aamir Barkawi (Alon Aboutboul) and for all intents and purposes, the Barkawi family are wiped out and the world rejoices. But what action film is ever that simple, right? Cut to the present day and President Benjamin Asher (Aaron Eckhart) is in London for the State Funeral of the UK Prime Minister, as are many other Heads of State including Canada, Germany, France and Japan, and a logistical nightmare for London’s security forces to negotiate at very short notice. And low and behold, Barkawi is alive, as is his son Kamran and others who were victims of the drone attack. As Asher and Banning arrive at Westminster Abbey for the funeral, Backawi’s forces strike, opening fire on all the Heads of State at their various locations, killing them all. All except Asher of course because…..’MURICA that’s why. We then get to see various famous London Landmarks being destroyed which, given the current state of UK politics, is quite an apt visual representation.

Live footage of the current state of UK politics

It’s then a race to get Asher, along with Lynne Jacobs (played by the fabulously flawless Angela Bassett) back to the presidential choppers and en route to Air Force One. Easy right? Wrong. The chopper crash lands in the middle of London, and then Banning and Asher are on foot through the empty city streets. Banning is as relentless as ever, stabbing and shooting his way through waves of Backawi’s followers with Asher looking on both astounded and shocked.

I’m going to admit that I was uncomfortable with the subject matter. With everything that is currently going on in the world. London Has Fallen is brutally close to home, quite literally. Replace Pakistan with Syria or even ISIS and it hits the nail directly on the head. This film may depict a fictional London, but given the track record of the UK and the US in matters of drone attacks and bombing the crap out of the Middle East for the sake of oil under the pretense of ‘democracy’. London Has Fallen is a stark reminder that this could very well happen, that is what unsettled me. Did I just get deep about a shoot-’em-up action movie? Yes. Yes i did.

The original cast of Olympus Has Fallen are all back for the sequel

The original cast of Olympus Has Fallen are all back for the sequel

Another thing that bothered me about this film is that Mike Banning displays classic signs of PTSD and very real anger management issues. The man is far too happy about stabbing people to death and in fact, he clearly enjoys it. At the end of the film, we see Banning returned to his wife in one piece with a teeny tiny fresh newborn at home. It’s all very idyllic and lovely, but give it a couple of weeks and Banning is going to be having some serious PTSD issues. The man cannot function without a severe adrenaline rush and killing people. Am I reading too much into this film? More than likely.

I would like to finish by saying that this one of the gayest films I’ve ever seen. I mean, nothing can beat Top Gun for that, but London Has Fallen isn’t even trying to disguise the obvious.  Mike Banning is all about POTUS in this film. Yes, he may well have just left a very heavily pregnant wife back in DC, but it became pretty clear in Olympus Has Fallen, Banning is more than a little fond of The Prez. I’m just more than a little sad that there was no adrenaline fueled kissing between Banning and President Asher at the end of London Has Fallen because I would have totes been down for that. I didn’t notice how homoerotic this film was when I saw it in the cinema (yes, I paid money to see this film), but now having seen it on DVD, I can’t believe how blind I was. There is no subtext here, it’s right out there for all to see, just like Top Gun. And this is by no means a bad thing. As a queer person myself, I want to see more gay characters in films.  But that is another subject for another day.

Banning and his beloved POTUS

Banning and his beloved POTUS

If you’re an action movie fan who can ignore the close-to-home, xenophobic political backdrop of this film, you’re going to enjoy London Has Fallen. The action sequences are big and brash, as you would expect, which make up for a somewhat weak script.  Despite that, London Has Fallen still managed to leave me feeling unsettled, even more so that I already was about the current world climate. Ultimately, this is just like any other Star Spangled Banner waving American action movie: blow shit up, kill terrorists and look macho as hell whilst doing it. I mean it, there is an awful lot of willy-waving in this film, just fyi.

I’m not ashamed to admit that I enjoyed this film, purely for all the macho bullshit that truly makes an action film. It’s not particularly polished, but it’s a good way to waste an evening with a takeaway.

Rating: 3 /5

Official Site: London Has Fallen

Reviewer: Vix

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