Action Blu-ray Review

'London Has Fallen' Blu-ray Review: Anarchy in the monarchy

June 14, 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.

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.

Setting aside the underwhelming nature of this sequel, London Has Fallen actually fares quite well on Blu-ray, with a visual presentation that deserves kudos for its vivid coloring and attention to detail, showcasing the impressive lengths that the filmmakers have gone through to both recreate and destroy such famous London landmarks as Chelsea Bridge and Westminster Abbey. The disc also sports a TrueHD 5.1 sound mix that allows dialogue and music come through loud and clear, with a healthy amount of LFE to support the 360 degrees of chaos created by the sounds of explosions, gunfire and screeching tires, not to mention the smorgasbord of shattering glass, metallic creaks, ricocheting bullets and crumbling stonework.

VVS' single-disc Blu-ray release includes the following Blu-ray extras:

  • The Making of London Has Fallen (13:16) - A look at the evolution of the franchise, Butler's role as both actor and producer, director Babak Najafi's skillset, the cast, the cinematography and the action sequences.
  • Guns, Knives & Explosives Featurette (7:42) - The cast and crew talk about bringing the film's action to life, from realizing the destruction of key landmarks to the physical training and stunt choreography involved.

London Has Fallen is available from VVS Films as of June 14th, 2016. The Blu-ray features English and French Dolby TrueHD 5.1 tracks. The film is presented with English and French subtitles. The total runtime is 1 Hr. 39 Mins.

* Reviewer's note: Portions of this Blu-ray review were adapted from my original review of the theatrical release, published on March 2nd, 2016.

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