Action Crime

'London Has Fallen' Film Review: Action sequel treads heavily, but falls short

March 2, 2016Ben MK

When your movie's big action set-piece — an explosive decimation of some of London, England's most iconic landmarks — takes place less than 30 minutes in, you know things can only go downhill from there. And, unfortunately, that more or less sums up the general trajectory of Gerard Butler's latest action vehicle, a slick but mostly unnecessary follow-up to his 2013 hit, Olympus has Fallen.

Reprising his role as gruff Secret Service agent Mike Banning, Butler plays a man at a crossroads. With first-time fatherhood looming, he's giving serious thought to hanging up his Kevlar vest and letting someone else be the go-to protector for U.S. President Benjamin Asher (Aaron Eckhart). However, when the British Prime Minister suddenly drops dead, Mike is forced to put those plans on hold, leaving behind his pregnant wife (Radha Mitchell) to accompany President Asher to London, where the world's leaders will be attending the state funeral.

Of course, once they get there, it doesn't take long for all Hell to break loose. And when terrorists launch a merciless strike against the gathering of international dignitaries, it sends Mike springing into action. Faced with overwhelming odds and an endless onslaught of heavily-armed assailants, he turns to his contact in MI6 (Charlotte Riley) for help. Meanwhile, back in Washington, D.C., Vice President Allan Trumbull (Morgan Freeman) and his team work to get to the bottom of the attack, relying on Mike to keep their Commander-in-Chief alive until they do.

What follows is your basic action movie affair, comprised of shootouts, car chases and bare-knuckle brawls, all of which unfold in generic locations around London, from a darkened tube station to an under-construction building in the heart of the city. But while the setting may have changed, director Babak Najafi and screenwriters Creighton Rothenberger, Katrin Benedikt, Christian Gudegast and Chad St. John do little else to expand the film beyond its basic premise, sticking closely to the template established by director Antoine Fuqua and his first installment.

The result is a sequel that chooses familiarity over reinvention, offering very little in the way of surprises. Although, you could argue that the same holds true of action franchises such as the Die Hard series, which London Has Fallen appears to be loosely modeled after. On the plus side, it's refreshing to see that the action hasn't been pared down to achieve a PG-13 rating; so even though London Has Fallen isn't overly bloody, at least genre fans don't have to be concerned about the violence being deliberately toned down to make the film more marketable.

Ultimately, however, the amount of mileage you get out of London Has Fallen will depend on how attached you are to Gerard Butler's character and the world created by Olympus Has Fallen. That being said, there are two types of moviegoers for whom this follow-up has been specifically tailored: those who loved the first film and want more of the same, and those who haven't seen the previous entry, and thus won't mind a retread of its story. Everyone else better check their expectations at the door, because once London falls, this movie has a hard time getting back up.

London Has Fallen releases March 4th, 2016 from VVS Films. The film has an MPAA rating of R for strong violence and language throughout. Its runtime is 1 Hr. 39 Mins.

You May Also Like