“Olympus Has Fallen” again! This time, it’s London falling down. Much of the cast and crew return three years after “Olympus,” including Gerard Butler as Secret Service Agent Mike Banning, who once again is the only person who can protect Benjamin Asher, the unluckiest U.S. President ever, played by Aaron Eckhart.
Director Antoine Fuqua refused to return to this sequel, “London Has Fallen” because of the script, crafted primarily by Creighton Rothenberger and Katrin Benedikt, who return from “Olympus.” Babak Najafi takes the reigns of this action-thriller making it bigger and bolder. The scary premise is mostly plausible, but possibly carried a bit too far.
Last time, it was those pesky North Koreans invading the White House in broad daylight. This time, it’s a Middle Eastern terrorist group that executes an all-out attack in London town. The sequel is a non-stop thrill ride, but is considerably more intense and more xenophobic than all our presidential candidates combined.
When the British Prime Minister passes away, world leaders assemble, and so do their enemies. With more security from more nations than any other event in the world, a well-designed, well-executed terrorist plot explodes across multiple locations in the British capital. Without warning, President Asher and Mike Banning are on the run again.
Banning had prepared to resign from his post, but agreed to this last mission. Fortunately, the guy is a one-man army. Highly trained goon squads are no match for our hero, and he is immune to the barrage of machine gun attacks. While on the run, he punches out or guns down the enemy with punishing precision from every direction.
Apparently, master terrorist Aamir Barkawi (Alon Aboutboul) is behind these dastardly deeds. All this is revenge for an American drone strike that killed his family. With brutal mayhem and shameless glee, famous London landmarks are destroyed, leaders assassinated and innocent civilians mowed down as collateral damage in the attack.
The storyline doesn’t feature much nuance, but the characters are believable: good guys likeable and bad guys detestable. The non-stop action is easy to follow and serves as mind-numbing entertainment. Lots of stuff explodes, the car chases are intense, bloody fight scenes are numerous and the body count is higher than any movie in recent times.
While the action stars are filled with righteous anger and applying armed justice, an over-the-top message plays to our greatest fear. Vice-President Trumbull (Morgan Freeman) warns, “To those who threaten our freedom: America will rise up. And make no mistake; we will find you, and we will destroy you.” Freeman’s rich voice delivers the message, but his role still seems like an afterthought.
Although there are similarities, this isn’t a “Mission Impossible” or “James Bond” flick. In fairness, it doesn’t try to be. It is what it is. The action and heroics are plentiful, and there is never a dull moment. If you excuse the lapses in logic, it is an engrossing action-thriller that doesn’t disappoint. Supporting actors Angela Bassett, Melissa Leo and Robert Forster reprise roles from the first film, but unfortunately, could have been given a few more lines for their immense talent.
“London Has Fallen” is 99 minutes and rated R for strong violence and language. What’s infuriating is that such an outlandish story is somewhat plausible. Sure, it plays on our greatest fears, but not any more than every other media outlet. The spoiler alert is that at least we eventually win the day. Even so, it’s still somewhat painful.
Some movies shouldn’t really have sequels. Don’t get us wrong. It’s not a bad movie; it’s just unnecessary. If you ratchet down your thought processes, it’s engaging and even entertaining. We think about when Banning performs yet another brutal act against his foes, President Asher asks, “Was that really necessary?” Banning simply replies, “No.”
Ron’s Rating: C+ Leigh’s Rating: B-