‘London Has Fallen’ has moments of fun ridiculousness, but ultimately fails

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courtesy of collider.com

Gerard Butler literally throws down with enemies in London Has Fallen.

Alec Badalian, Magazine Editor

In 2013, a throwback to some of the classic action movies of the ’80s was released in theaters and was appropriately coined “Die Hard in the White House.” That film was Olympus Has Fallen, a wildly silly, self-aware riot of a movie that had a gaggle of entertaining moments. Making a modest $161 million worldwide on a budget of $70 million, this Gerard Butler vehicle became quite popular among action movie buffs, but no one truly expected a sequel would come of it. Perhaps the first one should have stood on its own, which is shown by its sequel London Has Fallen.

Poorly exploding into theaters on March 4, Butler returns as Secret Service agent Mike Banning, who successfully saved President Benjamin Asher (Aaron Eckhart) and stopped North Korean terrorists from completely destroying the White House. Two years later, Banning and Asher find themselves in London attending the funeral of the prime minister when Middle Eastern terrorist Aamir Barkawi (Alon Aboutboul) targets all of the attending world leaders. With the help of Vice President Trumbull (Morgan Freeman), who was the Speaker of the House in the first film, back in the States, Banning must take out any threats against the president until their rescue arrives.

The plot is quite simple, much like in the first one, but that’s fine. Movies like this don’t need incredibly complex storylines as long as there’s a strong sense of urgency and intensity when it comes to the action. The first one had that plainly due to how insanely dumb it was at times, but to its benefit. After all, any movie that has someone being murdered with a bust of Abraham Lincoln is bound to get at least someone and engaged. But here, there simply aren’t enough moments of craziness to keep things exciting. This second installment seems to want to to take itself much more seriously than the first, and all that does is diminish any opportunity to become a dopey shoot-em-up thrill ride. A concept like this shouldn’t be taken seriously in a film; it’s meant to be entertainment, not a grim exploration of the threats the world faces today.

The performances are perfectly fine and the actors do what they can with the significantly thin script, written by the same team who wrote the first film. Taking the reigns of director over Antoine Fuqua is Babak Najafi, who adapts to the same sort of shaky handheld camerawork of the first one quite just fine, making the action relatively comprehensible. But the overall production value of this one looks strangely low, featuring some straight-to-DVD-esque visual effects. This marks Butler’s second consecutive week of lousy CGI antics after the atrocious Gods of Egypt.

From time to time, the film will channel the marvelous stupidity of its predecessor and turn into a decently enjoyable flick, but those moments are too far between one another, with the filler being unnecessarily self-serious and dull. For those searching for the same boundless action of the first, it’s better off to just rewatch the original rather than watch this one and miss the joyous stupidity that made the first one so great.