London Has Fallen-2016
Starring-Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart
Scott’s Review #608
Reviewed January 13, 2017
Save for plenty of very interesting, cool London shots- mostly aerial views- London Has Fallen is complete drivel. The films attempt at being a red-blooded, patriotic film, comes across as insulting and racist, with a machismo that is cringe worthy. The dialogue is bad and the “us against them” mantra has been done to death in film- mostly the 1980’s and 1990’s. To quote one reviewer, “London Has Fallen is Donald Trump in film form”. How the film convinced such a talented cast to appear is beyond me (must have been money), and several’s parts are so small (Robert Forster, Melissa Leo, Jackie Earle Haley) they are nearly glorified extras.
The plot is painfully contrived to say nothing of the ludicrous nature of the entire story. To retaliate against a drone strike killing a Pakistani leader, terrorists take advantage of the death of the UK Prime Minister in order to assassinate several world leaders who have gravitated to London in order to attend the funeral services. The President of the United States (played by Aaron Eckhart) is naturally in attendance and his murder is thwarted by top Secret Service official, Mike Banning (Gerard Butler)-our films hero. The rest of the film involves the President and Mike running throughout London attempting to catch the terrorists and bring them to justice while avoiding death.
The London locales are superb, but sadly, mainly appear at the beginning and the end of the film. The London Eye, the Thames river, the Underground and various metro stations are featured. The numerous London bridges also get some exposure. The best part is the way the film showcases the vastness of London and not just the up close shots of historic places like Westminster Abbey or Buckingham Palace. Certainly London is known for those gems, but the aerial views give the viewer an appreciation of all that London has to offer- I loved only this aspect of the film.
The supporting roles are abysmal and one imagines the actors cringing as they read the scripts for some of these roles, given the more artistic parts they’ve received in the past. I hesitate to think what possessed Leo, Forster, and Haley to accept meaningless roles save for a hefty pay check. Each played members of the President’s staff and were largely reduced to reactionary shots. Getting more screen time, but being treated to equally uninteresting roles are Angela Bassett as an ill-fated Secret Service Director and Radha Mitchell as Banning’s weary looking, pregnant wife. The performances overall are forgettable. Respectable actors Butler and Eckhart merely phone in their vapid, dull lines, failing to make any of it believable.
The film never bothers with character development or anything beyond basic good and bad roles- every character is either 100% good or 100% bad. It is made crystal clear that the Americans are the good guys, and the foreigners (all Middle eastern or Asian actors, of course) are simply the bad guys. There is never an explanation of what the “bad guys” motivations are and one cheesy line after another is written for the “good guys”. During the finale Banning professes that “we have been here for thousands of years and always will be”, as he beats a bad guy senseless. Good grief. I’ve seen better dialogue on a network television drama.
And there is never any doubt how the film will end- there is an American mole who has used his power to enable all of the assassinations, but when the mole is revealed, it is a character we have never seen before, so who cares?
Surely a film soon to be forgotten for the poor story, cliche-riddled script, and stereotypes galore, but the fantastic London shots were inspiring and lovely to see. I would have been happy with one hour and forty minutes of those.