Unfortunately, a lot has changed in 3 years.
2013’s Olympus Has Fallen opens with a friendly boxing match followed by a tragic car accident that explains why Secret Service Agent Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) and President Asher (Aaron Eckhart) aren’t boxing buddies anymore. It’s neither the most interesting or most original opening but at least we know what we’re in for. Olympus Has Fallen was harmless and predictable fun,just not especially interesting or original.
Three years later, London Has Fallen opens with a montage of news footage covering recent terrorist attacks, making it clear that the Olympus sequel takes place in a more dangerous world. Where the first thing we hear about every seemingly random shooting is whether it’s being investigated as “an act of terrorism”. Now that Islamophobia has such an influential and dangerous spokesman as Donald Trump, some have even questioned whether we really need a movie like London Has Fallen right now.
I could have overlooked London Has Fallen’s social and political irresponsibility if the film itself had been more gripping. Well, yes and no. Banning telling a terrorist to go back to “Fucheadistan or wherever the hell you come from” might have been taking it a little far. Same for Morgan Freeman (who should really retire) and his final speech which shamelessly defended America’s foreign policy. Other than that, London’s worst offence is not being any good.
As in Olympus, Banning doesn’t have any great kills or great stunts. And even if he did, director Babak Najafi doesn’t understand the genre enough to showcase them properly if he did. Way too many fights and chases are obstructed by sloppy editing.
And way too many questions are left unanswered. How did terrorists manage to attack “the most protected event in the world”? Why does Banning leave POTUS alone so often when he knows the bad guys are after him? WHERE IS EVERYBODY? Would the streets of London really be that bare, even after such a devastating attack? And, most importantly, how does Gerard Butler still get work?