*. Olympus Has Fallen was a dumb action film with lots of fist fights and knife fights and gun fights and explosions. It was an obvious Die Hard clone but was reasonably well done and well received. London Has Fallen is more of the same but was not well received at all. Critics hated it and audiences were slightly cooler too. Why? Did they miss the Die Hard formula that much?
*. Well, for one thing, if Olympus Has Fallen was dumb than London Has Fallen is dumberer. An intro shows an American missile strike taking out the wedding of a promiment Pakistani arms dealer’s daughter. This means it’s personal. And, as the arms dealer (his name is Barkawi) has already told his sons, “Vengeance must always be profound and absolute.” So a plan is hatched to kill the British Prime Minister and then, with all the most powerful heads of state gathered together in London for the funeral, kill all of them too.
*. If you thought the terrorists launching a frontal assault on the White House was stupid, well you hadn’t seen anything yet. Apparently the terrorists here have assembled a crack team of several hundred individuals to blow up a bunch of famous landmarks, shut the City down, and kill the various world leaders in a sequence that had me thinking of Who Is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe? The Italian president is actually named Antonio Gusto, and he’s making out with his young mistress when he gets taken out. Forza Italia!
*. There’s a great moment when the American president is being escorted to safety by his burly bodyguard Mike Banning (Aaron Eckhart and Gerard Butler, respectively) and he remarks that the terrorists must have someone inside. Someone? They haven’t just infiltrated, they’ve taken over the entire London police force, and even the Queen’s guards at Buckingham Palace as well. All in just a couple of years!
*. In my notes on Olympus Has Fallen I didn’t mention the names of Morgan Freeman and Angela Bassett. He plays the Speaker of the House who becomes acting president during the kidnapping but he’s advanced (is that the right word?) to being Vice President here. She’s the head of the Secret Service and gets killed in the initial attack. So Freeman gets to man the war room, again, and face off with the terrorist heads floating on the big screen, again, while Bassett provides a bit of extra sauce for Butler’s profound and absolute revenge.
*. Melissa Leo is also back as the Secretary of Defense, after getting the crap beaten out of her in the first film. Does she even have any lines though? Or is she just here for continuity?
*. Antoine Fuqua didn’t come back to direct because he apparently didn’t care for the script. Let that sink in.
*. I get that Butler’s Banning is the typical hard target in an action film. Meaning he can walk through a hail of bullets and not be hit. But he also walks away from a helicopter crash, along with the president. Just before they crash he manages to yell out “Brace yourselves!” Advice which does not include putting on a seatbelt. I guess they just got lucky.
*. Because once again all the players are in contact with each other via cellphones (or whatever they’re using) they get to talk smack at each other. This isn’t very witty or a lot of fun. One feels things weighing down with hyperbole. When Barkawi is identified as being the brains behind the London operation Freeman says that he’s “killed more people than the plague.” I was just pondering that, and figuring it couldn’t be literally true, when Banning kills a fake policeman and, finding him armed with an automatic weapon, a grenade, and a smoke bomb, declares that he has “more ammunition than the entire U.S. Army.” Which made even less sense, but it’s the kind of thing that people say in this movie.
*. Most of the plot is just an excuse to drag us through a bunch of different action scenes, which I thought were reasonably well done but nothing original. There were a lot of complaints about the CGI, but at this point I feel like if I’ve seen one city being destroyed I’ve seen them all. The depopulated London (which doesn’t make a lot of sense) reminded me of 28 Days Later, as did thee descent into the subway (which I think used the same location). Terrorists, zombies . . . it’s all pretty much the same.
*. The jingoism, which was already pretty heavy in Olympus Has Fallen, is dialed up even louder here. The ridiculous scene in the earlier film where Leo recites the pledge of allegiance while being beaten is returned to here with the president reciting his oath of office as he’s about to be killed. Then Butler gets to deliver a rah-rah speech about the indestructibility of the American spirit as he beats one of the chief terrorists around a room. Boo-yah.
*. The wrap-up is exactly what you’d expect. Everyone watching the rescue of the president (apparently being streamed live, preposterously, around the world, including in Times Square) gets to cheer. That’s the cue for the audience to cheer as well. The mole is discovered, and he’s exactly who you thought he was the first time he appeared on screen. His execution is a formality. Banning decides to delete his resignation letter and continue to make the world safe . . . for the children. A third film was soon announced.