“Another terrorist attack? Here we go again!”
Critics were polarized by Anthony Fuqua’s action film Olympus Has Fallen, about an ex-secret service agent who busts into the White House to save the U.S. President from terrorists.
As it happens, my opinion of the film mostly lines up with Jim Vejvoda’s IGN review of the film. While the villains and situations were decidedly over the top, the action was fast-paced and brutal, and Gerard Butler kicked all kinds of ass in it. Overall, I enjoyed the movie.
For fans of Olympus Has Fallen, London Has Fallen offers the same mindless thrills, and in true sequel fashion the stakes have never been higher. In this new film, the British Prime Minister has just passed away, and his funeral is a must-attend event for all the world leaders.
But as you probably guessed, they’re walking into a trap, laid by a vengeful arms dealer who wants them all dead. Unfortunately for that guy, the President of the United States (Aaron Eckhart) brought Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) with him, and they don’t plan on going down without a fight.
If that premise sounds familiar to you, that’s because it’s almost the exact same setup as the first movie, starting with another intricate terrorist attack. Weirdly, though, there’s almost no reference to the events of first film whatsoever. Asher’s dead wife, Banning’s heroics, the once-decimated White House — for all intents and purposes, none of these things ever happened. Basically, London Has Fallen hits the reset button on all the characters — and I mean all the characters, right down to Robert Forster’s.
From there, Banning fights his way through hordes of enemies much in the same way he did three years ago. Meanwhile, Morgan Freeman’s Trumball, now promoted to VP, is back in the Situation Room to guide Banning and FaceTime the bad guys, albeit not as much as last time. Still, the actor has a knack for making exposition sound way cooler than it actually is, and it’s nice to have him back for the few scenes he’s in.
Honestly, apart from the new setting, the biggest difference here is that Eckhart’s President tags along with Banning for most of the movie. Instead of trying to save the President from a hostage situation — though, surprise, there’s another one of those too — Banning is tasked with safely escorting him out of the country before he’s assassinated. As a result, Eckhart plays a more central role in the sequel, and he even gets in on some of the action. Same goes for Angela Bassett’s Secret Service Director, who also ends up joining them.
Of course, the main draw here is Butler, and he seems right at home playing Banning again, for better or for worse. As with the first film, Banning’s antics are ridiculous and single-minded, but that’s part of what makes them fun. And while the villains are as one-dimensional as ever, the close quarters combat is bone-crunchingly satisfying, if a little muddy in spots. For example, some of the indoor scenes are poorly lit. That said, the visual effects are notably improved this time out.