Synopsis: Gerard Butler is a secret service agent who has to protect the U.S. President (Aaron Eckhart) during a massive terrorist attack on London.
Director: Babak Najafi
Starring: Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Morgan Freeman, Angela Bassett
Release date: March 3
Country: USA! USA!
Running time: 98 mins
In 2013, director Antoine Fuqua’s Olympus Has Fallen (in which Gerard Butler protected President Aaron Eckhart) won the battle of the competing terrorists-attack-the-White-House thrillers, trouncing the far superior, infinitely more fun White House Down (in which Channing Tatum protected President Jamie Foxx) at the box office, and making a sequel a depressing inevitability.
That sequel has now arrived, courtesy of Swedish director Babak Najafi, and a script so rabidly jingoistic that it’s genuinely surprising not to see the words “This has been a party political broadcast on behalf of Donald Trump” come up at the end.
“Various national monuments go boom”
In true “How can the same shit happen to the same guy twice?” style, London Has Fallen sees Eckhart’s President Asher land slap bang in the middle of yet another terrorist attack while attending the state funeral of the British Prime Minister in London.
After various national monuments go boom, every policeman, ambulance worker and soldier (including members of the Queen’s Guard) suddenly turns out to be a gun-toting sleeper agent and it’s up to loyal bodyguard Mike Banning (Butler) to save the day, which he does by repeatedly punching, shooting or stabbing every goddamn terrorist he can get his hands on.
The [Something] Has Fallen franchise may wish it was Die Hard, but Gerard Butler is no Bruce Willis, lacking both the charm and the comic timing to get away with the necessary wise-cracks, all of which fall flat here.
Worse, Banning is a flat-out nasty piece of work, dishing out blatantly racist taunts (e.g. “Why don’t you go back to Fuckheadistan?”) and throwing himself into the stabbings with such rabid, sadistic fervour that you suspect he actually enjoys it.
Leaving aside the film’s ludicrous set-up, which effectively allows Butler to open fire on anyone wearing a police uniform (a potentially interesting subversive touch that goes unnoticed by the actual script), the film is as ugly to look at as it is to listen to, with painfully shoddy CGI explosions, a grim, grey palette and repetitive, badly staged shoot-outs.
On top of that, the film completely wastes its talented supporting cast (Melissa Leo, Jackie Earle Haley, Robert Forster and Morgan Freeman all reprise their roles from the first film), most of whom just sit there with shell-shocked expressions, like they’ve only just seen the script (Angela Bassett is back too, but the less said about the treatment of her character, the better).
Between its sadistic violence, idiotic script and charisma vacuum of a leading man, this is pretty much unwatchable. Ugly, poorly made and deeply offensive on multiple levels.