MOVIE REVIEW: London Has Fallen (2016)

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“LONDON HAS FALLEN” REVIEW
DIRECTED BY BABAK NAJAFI
STORY BY CREIGHTON ROTHENBERGER AND KATRIN BENEDIKT

“Prepare for Bloody Hell.” Not exactly original. Or witty. But the imagery and the line would already give you an idea what to expect, more so if you were able to watch the first film.

London has Fallen is the sequel to Olympus has Fallen, which was shown three years ago. In the first film, Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) a disgraced Secret Service agent, single-handedly (unbelievably and against all odds) saves the life of the President of the United States Benjamin Asher (Aaron Eckhart) after the latter gets taken hostage by a North Korean guerrilla led by wanted terrorist Kang Yeonsak (Rick Yune). If you think that was enough, they used the same formula on the sequel and made it bigger, badder, and a whole lot messier.

The story begins with news reports about terror attacks instigated by Pakistani arms dealer Aamir Barkawi (Alon Aboutboul) in key cities around the globe to increase the demand and fuel the sales of his weapons merchandise. Highlight on this are the SAF 44 reports and the gloomy mention of the Philippines as a terrorized country. While attending his daughter’s wedding, the intimate event gets bombed by a U.S. drone, with him as the target. His daughter and other innocent people die in the bombing, and thus foreshadowed the obvious outcome of what happened.

A few years after the incident, it’s shown that Mike has been reinstated to lead agent status with the U.S. Secret Service. He has a pregnant wife and a happy life. His near-perfect life gets interrupted once more when the British Prime Minister has died under dodgy circumstances with the funeral requiring the attendance of the world’s most powerful leaders. Mike and the Director of Secret Service Lynne Jacobs (Angela Bassett) are both wary of Benjamin’s decision to attend the funeral due to lack of proper preparation (since a gathering as big as this one is considered a logistical nightmare and every world leader has his or her own security personnel). However, Asher decides to push through with it anyhow due to the fact that the U.K. is the United States’ biggest ally.

london has fallen movie

As expected, explosions start left and right, with world leaders slowly (but surely, and in a very grandiose manner) dying one after the other. Nobody is prepared for what has been happening. Everything seems to be elaborate and well executed. The enemy are disguised as policemen, Queen’s guards, paramedics, and soldiers. No one could be trusted. In fact, if Banning didn’t deliberately move up Asher’s schedule, he would’ve gone kaput. Nada. Gone. (Good thing he got Banning back in service.)

Essentially, the film involves a lot of running around the streets of London, and also includes cringe-worthy footage of Westminster Abbey being blown up (regardless of it being CGI). If you love historical architecture, then you would know how it feels to see the destruction of these structures.

With the introduction of a member of the female gender who would play a supposedly strong, capable woman in MI6 Agent Jacquelin Marshall (Charlotte Riley), the story could have been pushed in a more compelling angle. Well, if she played a bigger role, then this would not be a problem at all. Were she not a trusted contact of Banning that helped with spiriting the president away, she wouldn’t really have much of a part in the film. She barely have a presence, mostly forgettable. Truly a shame in that. 

london has fallen

Gerard Butler as per usual played the role like he always does: gruff, tough, and bad-ass. He’s basically a walking ball of testosterone, and has the ability to make an action-flick quite enjoyable, if not intellectually stimulating. He dons the character of an American that’s trying hard to sound American. The accent is still very noticeable but can still be taken any day compared to a certain American cop with an Austrian accent… (Holy crap, Arnold Schwarzenegger. How you got away with it all, no one will never know.)

And as previously mentioned, the writers took a very formulaic approach to the story. Just like in Olympus Has Fallen, President Asher once again gets taken hostage (this time, though, due to a very personal reason. As Barkawi said in the film, “Vengeance must always be profound and absolute.”), Vice President Allan Trumbull (former Speaker of the House is promoted to VP after the apparent death of his predecessor), once again, for the love of God, became the acting president, and ONCE AGAIN talks directly to the main villain of the film and gets delivered with these EXACT same lines: “Their blood is on your hands.” Really? Really?! Two films in a row? The exact same lines?!

At the end of the day, London Has Fallen is not exactly a film that you will remember and cherish years from now, but if you’re in it for the action and the edge-of-your-seat suspense, then it’s definitely that.

London Has Fallen is now showing in cinemas nationwide from Multivision Pictures Enterntainment Philippines as distributed by Viva International Pictures.

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