Saturday, March 12, 2016

Movie Review #393: "London Has Fallen" (2016)

Movie"London Has Fallen"
Ticket Price: $9.75
Director: Babak Najafi
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 39 minutes
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President Asher (Aaron Eckhart) and the heads of state from many countries around the world are heading to London on a few day's notice to attend the funeral of England's prime minister, who has died unexpectedly. While there, a terrorist group attacks the city, murdering several world leaders in an attempt kill President Asher. Isolated and left without communication, secret service agent Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) must keep the president safe and alive through a city infested with terrorists.

Check your brain at the door, folks, because you aren't going to need it watching a movie like this.

"London Has Fallen," much like its predecessor "Olympus Has Fallen," is full of total mindless mayhem for the sake of total mindless mayhem. If you had any hope for a cohesive plot, or a well thought out narrative, or well developed characters that have any depth whatsoever, just walk away from this film right now because you aren't going to find any semblance of this here. What you will find are explosions, gun fire, RPGs, a superfluous amount of f-bombs, seemingly unlimited ammunition, more explosions, lots and lots of running around the curiously empty streets of London, people getting stabbed over and over and over, more gun fire, a few broken necks, more explosions, and yet more gunfire. You will also find massive plot holes and a lot of unintentional comedy that might make you stifle your laughter in a giant theater with only 2 other people in it.

Where director Antoine Fuqua said he wanted to steer away from using terrorists from the Middle East as antagonists because "it has been done before," the director of "London Has Fallen," Babak Najafi, who is of Iranian descent, took a different approach in the opposite direction and played this film right into the hands of the expected stereotypes from which Fuqua tried so hard to distance himself. The main villain here, Aamir Barkawi, played by Alon Aboutboul, is a terrorist mastermind and arms dealer responsible for millions of deaths ("more than the plague," apparently) around the world. After an attempt to take him out via drone strike, he survives and comes back with a a chip on his shoulder and vengeance in his heart, planning the attacks around London as if we're supposed to feel bad we tried to bomb the shit out of him. Every stereotype you can think of is in this film, even several racist ones, and this includes the use of the word, and we're quoting here, "fuckhead-istan," which made us physically recoil and groan in utter shame. We guarantee you this is how some parts of the world view us, and we're not okay with being lumped in with a bunch of ignorant xenophobes. Oh, and the obvious gay joke was also just embarrassing.

The undeniably implausible way in which the terrorist attacks take place is only the beginning of our problem with "London Has Fallen." Look, we can accept mindless, stupid action movies. In fact, we love our fair share of them, from "Die Hard" to "Con Air" and the more recent "John Wick;" the difference is all of the aforementioned films are surprisingly good movies. The flicks in this series, however, are not good. They are lacking in so many areas, the least of which is a credible, feasible story. In lieu of cohesive plot points, instead we are treated to a movie beyond ridiculous, which we can get past most of the time, but suspension of disbelief has to end somewhere and the line is here. It's riddled with cliches and contrivances that exceed predictable. Barkawi has a straight-up Dr. Evil moment where he calls the United States war room on a direct line answered by the vice president, played once again by Morgan Freeman. He also pipes in a video feed directly to their big screen television. How convenient! Do we even need to continue at this point? Much like the original, someone in the film, this time President Asher, played again Aaron "I don't speak above a whisper grumble" Eckhart, beings delivering some sort of patriotic speech at literally the most inopportune time. President Asher, in the moments before he is going to be executed live on camera for the world to see, starts to recite his presidential oath of office as if it's supposed to stir up patriotic feelings within the audience. It's very much a "USA! USA! USA!" moment, but for us, it came off as comedic and utterly ridiculous.

In addition, the sheer number of terrorists tasked with pulling off multiple simultaneous acts of terror in London is a staggering amount. We should know all too well by now this can and has unfortunately happened, but even the number of people involved in the real world Paris attacks in 2015 were seemingly under 30 people. In this film, we're talking hundreds of individuals involved! They seem to multiply faster than a gremlin in a swimming pool. The terrorists are everywhere: on motorcycles, on the police force, in the royal guard, in Scotland Yard, popping in and out of random vans on the street like clowns popping out of a tiny car, in warehouses, in back alleys, etc. No one, not one person, noticed that everyone, each single solitary member of the British royal guard, were terrorists? Are there no background checks in England? And even if the real guards were killed and replaced with an all-terrorist task force, did no one notice that everyone, each solitary single member of the British royal guard was a different person than normal on the day of "the most protected event on the planet"????? These inconsistencies are terrible!!

As said above, the characters are paper thin and they have been from the start. Michael Banning, played by Gerard Butler, is pretty much a walking, talking advertisement for testosterone who can do more damage as one man than the entire armed forces of England combined as he shoots, punches, and stabs his way through the streets of London with his horrible American accent. Aaron Eckhart's President Asher is a little less of a pushover this time around because last time he was abducted by terrorists, he pretty much folded like tissue paper and gave into terrorist demands willy nilly, giving them anything and everything they needed to destroy the planet. He might be a little tougher, but the whisper grumble is still in tact, as his uber patriotic "I will face the terrorists with my head held high" attitude.

Some viewers may be okay with all of this, just happy to sit in a theater mindlessly staring at the flashing lights and booming booms while listening to pure, unadulterated noise, excusing the cliche, racist, stereotypical, cheesy nature of "London Has Fallen." For us, there are plenty of other better quality options out there with just as much high octane action as this one, but with more believable stories and more interesting characters. Action movies like this are a dime a dozen and usually go straight to DVD/Blu-ray. At this point, the "...Has Fallen" series is exactly the "Taken" series, but with the American president and a lesser Liam Neeson. Oh, and by the way, don't cast Jackie Earle Haley if you're hardly going to use him. He deserves better than this movie.

My Rating: 3.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 3.5/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.4/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 26%
Do we recommend this movie: No.
One year ago, we were watching: "Devil's Knot"

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