The dumb action movie has to be smarter than it looks if it has a chance at cinematic immortality. Speed, The Rock, Con Air and Face/Off are all 90’s era flicks that stealth flex their brains while visibly cocking their guns. The secret is to be fully aware of how ridiculous your premise is and then play up to it without veering wildly too far into camp. In short, respect your damn audience.
London Has Fallen, however, doesn’t seem to respect anyone, even it’s own predecessor. During the entire runtime of Gerard Butler’s latest bout of president saving, not one mention is made of the White House flattening events of the first movie that only would have unfolded A COUPLE OF YEARS AGO (even Die Hard 2 was polite enough not to pull THAT trick). This wouldn’t be so much of an issue if there was a minimum of returning characters but familiar faces are literally strewn everywhere making the fact that not a single returnee brings up the previous movie get more suspicious as the film goes on.
This is just one of the many contradictory issues plaguing this movie. Head scratching plot points and character quirks explode everywhere making what should be a rollicking thrill ride into somewhat of a baffling experience.
Example: the villain’s plan is kicked off to avenge the death of his daughter in a drone strike meant to kill him yet later it is revealed that this was a mistake as the CIA had no knowledge she was there. An odd thing to claim seeing it was clearly HER WEDDING!
This wouldn’t be so problematic if the film didn’t frequently insist on some quite jaw dropping rasicim. The villain is not a religious fanatic or some leader of a terrorist cell but instead an arms dealer who hire mercs of every nation to obtain his plot. So Butler’s clench jawed suggestion that the villain’s “go back to fuckhead-istan” seems a touch misguided. Plus his 1000 years speech at the film’s climax will squint your eyes in disbelief.
One of the many problems that dogged the first movie that has inconveniently stuck around for the sequel is the shockingly poor level of CGI. Poorly rendered helicopters fall unconvincingly out of the sky sucking any tension from scenes left and right.
So is it all bad? Somehow, no. Much like the first film (equally lousy in my opinion) the initial attack impresses if for no other reason than you can’t believe how far the film goes. As the White House fell in a surprisingly effective attack of unexpected sustained death-by-bomb, brutality so a clutch of world leaders are introduced and then dispatched like horny teens in a Friday the 13th movie. Another high point is the unrepentant charms of the leading man himself. Regardless of the content Butler seems to be enjoying himself immensely, in fact during many of the film’s copious gunfights you can clearly see a massive grin plastered on his rugged features. It’s a performance not exactly mirrored by some of the other cast. Aaron Eckhart is still as vanilla as ever and not only do you get the suspicion that Morgan Freeman didn’t just shoot his scenes on a different set but it also feels like a completely different calender year.
At one point Gerard Butler’s character claims to be made of bourbon and bad choices. This movie was obviously one of them.