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Die Hard Across the Pond

There's action movie logic, there's dumb action movie logic and then there's preposterous bullshit. Care to guess which category London Has Fallen falls under? To be fair, film critic and managing editor for Baltimore Magazine Max Weiss pretty much warned me this sequel to the surprise 2013 hit, Olympus Has Fallen was going to be shit, both in review form & via Twitter.

Before I continue, I need to briefly set up the first movie in order to talk about this absurdly stupid sequel: second-rate John McClain ripoff ex-Secret Service agent Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) is the only man on the inside who can save President Benjamin Asher (Aaron Eckhart) and the rest of his cabinet from North Korean terrorists who have blown up half the White House and taken control of seemingly the most secure and heavily guarded avenues on the planet, all the while, Speaker of the House Alan Trumbull (Morgan Freeman) is put in command and watches everything unfolding in the war room. Despite a ludicrous premise and an unoriginal storyline of terrorists taking control on American soil, Olympus did have tense direction from Antoine Fuqua (2001's Training Day) and an effective performance from Butler as a McClain-type character. He was shown to be resourceful under limited options and vulnerable after he gets his ass handed to him a few times in hand-to-hand combat, which made the film sometimes engaging, despite my thoughts that the film took it's premise way too seriously to be fully enjoyable as a whole. 

It's been two years since the events of the first movie, and Banning still has President Asher's back in the rebuilt Oval Office. Yes, you heard that right: the White House was blown halfway to hell by terrorists in the first movie, and has been completely rebuilt in this two-year time span. The Prime Minister of Great Britain succumbs to an unexpected heart attack in his sleep, and the leaders of the free world are gathering to pay their respects in London, which no one questions the cause of death, or finds his untimely demise even the least bit suspicious, save for Banning and Security Chief to the White House, Lynn Jacobs (Angela Basset, a fine character actress wasted), who both urge Asher to not head to London for the funeral due to the lack of time to prepare for security detail, which the Prez refuses. Why does he make this decision, given that last time, he and his cabinet came a hair's breath of being sent six feet under? Because we wouldn't have a movie otherwise!

In London, the leaders from Germany, Italy, France, Canada and Japan all arrive for the funeral, along with Asher, which is when the shit hits the fan: the terrorists carry out an attack by  the ring leader of  ISIS a man named Aamir Barkawi, killing five of the six world leaders, except for POTUS and Branning. Let me stop right here and explain how this all went down: somehow, Barkawi's foot soldiers were able to infiltrate London's law enforcement and its military, figure out where each world leader would be during the run-up to the funeral service, obtain illegal items like remote detonated bombs, automatic weapons, etc. and pull off these heinous attacks without raising any red flags by Scotland Yard MI6 or any counter-terrorism force in the country. And speaking of police - the head of the Metropolitan Police Department, Chief Inspector Kevin Hazard (Colin Salmon) announces that he needed his employers to deliver nothing short of their absolute best to see that this service goes off without a hitch...which is why they let the Italian PM alone on a roof without any security detail on him, the President of France alone, unprotected on his speedboat, and the PM of Japan to deal with traffic on the Millennium Bridge! I'm not making any of this up - this is how Barkawi's minions take out five of the six world leaders! How could the Met Police and British Intelligence bollix this up so astronomically? Similarly, how could the terrorists get their hands on material like stingers to being down all three Marine helicopters, AK-47's and enough explosive material to bring down a fucking skyscraper, without being stopped by local law enforcement?! If you guessed that the movie never attempts to explain how this was pulled off, congratulations, you're smarter than the filmmakers who thought this crap up!

Banning and Asher are now on the run from hundreds of terrorists in London, all the while VP Trumbell, along with the Secretary of State (Melissa Leo), the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (Robert Forester), and the White House Chief of Staff (Jackie Earle Haley) are trying to scramble and figure out how to save POTUS and Mike from being a propaganda video for Barkawi, the latter promising that he'll kill more innocent people in London if the former isn't turned over. Yes, the plot is basically recycled from Olympus Has Fallen, right down to the revenge motivation of our bad guys. Unlike the last movie, Oscar-winning actors like Freeman & Leo, as well as great character actors like Haley & Forester are borderline cameos and add almost nothing to the plot that they could have been written out of this mess with some re-writes. Frankly, they would be spared the dignity of being attached to this borderline mean-spirited and deeply xenophobic piece of shit.

Oh, yes: this sequel has a mean streak to it. When Banning isn't spouting off cheezy, half baked one-liners that would make McClain cringe, he's channels his inner Marion Cobretti and goes on a brutal killing spree on the bad guys. At one point, he captures a stormtrooper, sorry...terrorist (the bad guys are so one-dimensional, they might as well be clad in white armor and egg-white helmets), and is slowly killed, his screams being broadcast via a two-way communicator to his brother, the ring-leader. "Was that necessary?!", an aghast President Asher asks Banning. Mike replies simply with one word: "No." So our protagonist has gone from a John McClain-type action hero, to a Chris Kyle-level psychopath. Charming. Oh, and the movie constantly reminds the audience that brown-skinned folks with a Middle Eastern sound to their voice is evil, el diablo!, just in case you still haven't gotten the hint. And the movie brings up the use of drone strikes without really giving the audience much to chew on about the ramifications of raining death from the sky from the comfort of a monitor and/or joystick. The script never brings up concepts like 'collateral damage' or 'blowback', just the strategy of 'blow 'em up, ask questions later' approach is the correct course of action, because we're not to be fucked with, under any circumstance! USA USA! USA! USA!

London Has Fallen is atrocious on every level. The script, while being ridiculously familiar and full of plot holes the size of the Thames River, is just a lazy and familiar rehash of the first movie. Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart and Morgan Freeman phone in their checks, while talented character actors like Melissa Leo, Jackie Earle Haley and Robert Forester are borderline cameo appearances and could have been written out of this mess. The action scenes are virtually identical - shootouts, explosions and brutal scenes of bad guys being taken out - lather, rinse, repeat for an hour and forty minutes. The worst part is the rampant xenophobia and ugly, racist subtext the film has in regards to the War on Terror, with our "hero" acting as much of a barbarian as our "enemies" who brutally kill in the name of their crusade - except the film states that we're the good guys in all of this.

Come to think of it, I may have to revisit Michael Bay's vile, sexist, loud and immensely stupid Bad Boys II at some point, because this sequel just might be the worst action film I've seen in the last 15 years, which, given shite like Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle, A Good Day to Die Hard, 2 Fast 2 Furious, 10,000 B.C. and The Purge (to name a few), that's saying something.

Zero stars out of ****


  1. Sorry it took me so long to respond to this, a lot has been going on my end as you might have figured, but I assure you I have read it. The film world owes London an apology. Enjoy your rants, keep it up.


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