By Jack Dignan
Olympus Has Fallen, directed by Antoine Fuqua, was released back in 2013 to mixed reviews. While I haven't gone back and rewatched it since seeing it in cinemas for the first time, I had fun with it. It was a big, fun, dumb movie that featured Gerard Butler kicking all sorts of ass. What I didn't expect to come from Olympus Has Fallen was a sequel, yet here I am, two days away from the film's Australian release, discussing a sequel to that very movie. We may not have needed one, and I may not have wanted one, but what we did get was another mindless piece of entertainment, and once again, I had fun with it.
London Has Fallen picks up not too long after the events of the first movie. Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) is serving as President Benjamin's (Aaron Eckhart) bodyguard, as well as close friend. He's expecting a baby with his wife, Leah (Radha Mitchell), although just two weeks before the due date, he's sent off to London to help protect the President from any potential harm. All of the world leaders have come together for a funeral of one of their closest allies, and it's just before this funeral begins that an attack takes place, this attacked aimed towards the President. Mike, without the help of anyone else, must protect Benjamin with his life, escaping through the streets of London to who-knows-where.
It's noisy, it's dumb, it's a lot of fun. London Has Fallen brings out as much cheesiness as it can, resulting in a film so corny, it works. It's the ultimate cheese fest, every line of dialogue either a one liner or a one liner from a classic action movie. None of the dialogue is remotely natural, but in the moment, it seems to work, even an unintentionally hilarious line Gerard Butler gives about how thirsty he is. It's forced, stupid, and so unexpectedly terrible that my entire audience had to take a moment or two to let the awfulness of the line sink in before we all burst into prolonged laughter.
The dialogue may be awful, but this is an action film... so is the action any good? Yes and no. The special effects are shameful, and I've seen clips on YouTube with better effects than this movie. It's not just a few of them here and there, though. It's all of them. Every last one. It's oh so very bad, yet the film insists that it's necessary to have some in every action set piece. Thankfully, the action itself, no matter how bad it looks, can be fun. Gerard Butler is having the best time with this character, releasing his inner John McClane, but with the added skills of Jason Bourne. Granted, the skills aren't as... well... skillful, but it sure is entertaining to watch.
It's the sort of film that knows how ridiculous it is and rolls with it, adding extra cheese on top of its cheese. It's over the top, outrageously stupid, mildly racist and not the best acted film around, yet I wasn't bored. It's the type of film that I should despise, yet it did something right and I wasn't. I honestly can't explain why. Unlike Olympus Has Fallen, London Has Fallen isn't directed by Antoine Fuqua, but is instead directed by Babak Najafi, and Fuqua's direction is sorely missed, Najifi's directing is just about as generic as they come. 97% of the shots in this movie are bland or overdone, and then out of the blue comes this extremely long tracking shot, something a lot of action movies have been doing as of late. So, is this one long shot memorable? No, not really. You can tell it's four or five shots edited into one and even then, none of them are overly impressive and severely lack guidance.
On top of the camera work, there's also plenty of questionable editing choices, most notably the decision to constantly be reminding us of the time. There's a scene late into the film, a scene I obviously won't spoil as it's a very pivotal scene, where a subtitle appears about five times reminding us of what the time is. Literally one minute would pass the clock would reappear, and I have no explanation as to why this was deemed a wise choice. If it was to show a race against the clock, they really failed at that as once was more than enough. The other times it appeared was just distracting and took me out of the moment, although in all honestly, I was barely in the moment to begin with.
To sum up, London Has Fallen is an unnecessary sequel that works. It's loud, dumb, predictable, poorly acted and very blandly made, which is usually a good indication that something is bad, yet I had a lot of fun with it. Feel free to sue me, but I enjoyed this movie.