Review: London Has Fallen [2016]

London Has Fallen is full of explosions, chases, diabolical villains and reluctant heroes, and constant reminders that America is just the greatest thing EVER.

Starring: Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Morgan Freeman, Angela Basset, Radha Mitchell (and some brown guys who will forever be typecast as terrorists)

Director: Babak Najafi

Rating: 1.5/5

[Picture courtesy of: CinemaBlend]

It’s been a long time since I subjected myself to a film like this and all I can say is, “Wow, do they still make this tripe? And do people still swallow it?”

As a friend of mine pointed out, despite being set in London, the film is still about America! And whoo-wee does this story shove the ‘America is Great’ notion down your throat. I think Gerard Butler even says it. Twice. Then he has to say that he’s ‘made of bourbon and bad choices’, and as a Scotsman, I bet that stuck in his gullet. Ha!

I won’t share any spoilers. I don’t need to. You already know where this is going…directly to the cliché party, with expected appearances from:

  • The evil, heartless, Muslim terrorists who still cannot win ✓
  • The long suffering, yet understanding pregnant wife ✓
  • The hardworking, patriotic, loyal, badass bodyguard with a devil-may-care attitude ✓
  • The really charming, selfless, caring, heroic President ✓
  • Every national stereotype that you can think of… ta daaaa ✓
  • Enemies that cannot aim, bringing their bag of tricks, explosions, car chases and monologues ✓
  • And of course a bit of heartbreaking tragedy so everyone knows this is serious business
Aaron Eckhart and Gerard Butler should have run faster to get away from this train wreck of a film [Picture courtesy of: The Guardian]

London Has Fallen follows immediately after the events of its mediocre predecessor Olympus Has Fallen, with Butler reprising his role as Secret Service agent Mike Banning, who must once again protect President Asher (Aaron Eckhart) from certain death as VP Allan Trumbull (Morgan Freeman) watches on.

I’ll admit, I never saw the first one, although watching this I’m sure I have.

But back to London: a funeral for the British PM sets the scene, bringing the world’s leaders together. You can guess what happens next…Yep, shit hits the proverbial fan.

Moments of fun and nail biting action ensue, and the story line is totally over-the-top. Though seriously, way to go on the genius plot: terrorists (*slow clap*), how impressive!

Seeing London’s attractions fall hurt my eyes and my heart, but at least it was a welcome change from yet another US monument falling to its knees. I guess even Hollywood agrees that we’ve been there and done that already.

But there’s something insidious about this film that really floored me, something so subtle it could be missed if you weren’t watching out for every single fault with a massive magnifying glass (I made it myself – it’s awesome).

For the first time, at least that I’ve seen anyway (as I mentioned, it’s been awhile since I watched mainstream drivel like this), the US admits to bombing and attacking the world unfettered. In fact, it’s really open about it. Proud of it.

Of course it still maintains that it’s for the greater good (we won’t get into that now) but they outwardly say: ‘yeah, we bombed those people. We wanted to kill our targets and everyone else was collateral damage… And if we don’t do it, who will?’

*Jaw drop*

Meanwhile, around this time, Gerard Butler is busy explaining to everyone how great America is. Actually, he just tells people. He seemingly doesn’t need to explain why. Perhaps his kick-ass moves are meant to act as explanation enough?

You might not think Hollywood films are propaganda but it’s hard to deny a shift in consciousness, from weddings being deliberately targeted by government sanctioned orders (OK, that was a mini spoiler) to the President admitting that they bomb certain peoples, not caring about consequences or ill-feeling, and certainly not giving any apologies for (or to) the ‘collateral damage’.

Traditional action films starring would-be terrorists teach us to accept the idea that bad people are bad and good people protect us from those bad people (no questions).

But now we’re open to the fact that, even if the baddies are doing these things because they’re being attacked by the good people, they still deserve it…because they are bad (no questions).

It is difficult to move forward from this.

If Fuck-You-And-God-Bless-America films are your thing, then you might enjoy London Has Fallen. Otherwise, avoid it at all costs.

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