Najafi’s latest ticks all the boxes for your boilerplate blockbuster.
By Thomas Simpson
Olympus Has Fallen exploded onto our screens in 2013, creating a new, if not original, action hero in Gerard Butler’s Mike Banning, a Secret Service agent tasked with killing a small nation of terrorists who have seized the White House. Harsher critics dismissed it as a Die Hard rip-off, and although it was, it also proved to be a tense action thriller and better than the recent releases featuring John McClane. Now Banning is back as he strives to protect the President (Aaron Eckhart) from another small nation of terrorists, only, this time, London is his playground.
When the Prime Minister of Great Britain dies unexpectedly, his hastily prepared funeral results in many world leaders attending at short notice. This turns out to be one huge trap as the bad guys start taking out the leaders of the Western World in a carefully orchestrated attack. For all their planning, they didn’t have Banning in their equation. With the city on lockdown, there’s panic on the streets of London as Banning kills and quips his way to ensue the President’s safety.
There will be much made of this film, especially its depictions of the villains. The bland Middle Eastern villains invoke memories of ’90s actions films with its casual xenophobia and ultra-patriotic message. London Has Fallen is ridiculous, and maybe even offensive, but it’s undeniably a lot of fun.
The set-pieces are gloriously absurd with the one-liners as brutal as the death scenes. Thankfully it doesn’t take itself seriously so there’s no guilt in laughing at the dialogue such as Banning responding to the news he’s facing down 100 terrorists with the line “Yeah, well they should have brought more men.”
Director Babak Najafi replaces Antoine Fuqua while Creighton Rothenberger, Katrin Benedikt return as writers alongside Chad St. John, and Christian Gudegast. Sure they inject the script full of cliches and tropes but the pace never lets up meaning that this is a hugely enjoyable and exciting action film. The half-hearted social commentary is weak and is treated like the filler it is. There’s little complexity to the characters, what you see is what you get and it works perfectly for this type of film.
London Has Fallen is predictable and lacks any real tension due to it. If it’s popcorn munching entertainment you’re after however, it packs enough thrills in its 99 minutes run time that it’ll keep you interested.
Thomas Simpson is a writer and filmmaker based in Glasgow, U.K. Find him on Twitter: @Simmy41.