London Has Fallen (2016)

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“Vengeance has always been profound and absolute.”

London Has Fallen is at once a stupid, silly, self-serious action adventure wearing a Kevlar-plated heart of gold. And it’s also another entry into the long list of borderline xenophobic American propaganda pieces. Like a straight to VOD Bruce Willis flick mixed with the misplaced nationalistic pride of something close to American Sniper. I can only imagine a foreigner watching a movie of this kind, baffled and stupefied, questioning why we must always go to such great lengths to narrowly label and categorize a group of people we don’t really know. London Has Fallen sports an empty clip in its holster. Always ready to fire, zeroed in on the head shot. It shoots, relentlessly, but they might as well be blanks.

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Making his triumphant return is Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) protecting President of the United States Benjamin Asher (Aaron Eckhart). Flash back two years ago and it’s thought that a drone strike obliterated notorious illegal arms dealer Aamir Barkawi (Alon Abutbul) and his closest confidants. As per the norm in this genre, Barkawi survives and swears to savor his vengeance on America. It doesn’t really matter much what happens, or how we get there, or the who behind all of the machinations. The British Prime Minister dies, major countries’ lead officials gather in London, and a terrorist execution of the powers at be comes to a head. The story is kosher, the CGI amateurish, and the tone neonatal because it has no personality outside of the occasional shrieking cry for help.

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Butler and Eckhart do as best as they can together on this second excursion. One with ice-cold veins and the other an elitist with an iron forged chin. Their banter is solid – somehow – and while they attempt to exhume the movie from strictly being another popcorn affair, the corniness simultaneously digs itself into a deeper pit. Director Babak Najafi’s only answer is to bring in the entire cavalry. Explosions, bullets, warfare by land and sea and air. Wrecking havoc on England’s capital city. By doing so, London Has Fallen covers too much ground for how lean of a premise it has. Maybe it’s just the kind of dumb fun destined for weekend airtime on TBS, but why can’t B-Movies like this be intelligently foolish? Najafi’s film lives by the phrase, “stupid is as stupid does.”

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What’s sorely missing in this trigger happy version of In the Line of Fire is a memorable bad guy. One you hate but still understand. That takes time to set up, and after the worthless opening 30 minutes, Najafi presses his hell-raising life alert button in an attempt to keep the audience engaged. These two men are on the run, but from who? Body counts rack up, but why? Faceless enemies infiltrate every possible security force, but how? London Has Fallen only works as entertainment when you unplug and stop asking questions. When you buy into the face value. Because go any further and you’re sure to find the fraud.

“Was that really necessary?”

Rating: 1 out of 5

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