Director Babak Najafi makes his English-language film debut in this action packed sequel of 2013’s “Olympus Has Fallen.” The DC based thriller received mostly mixed reviews but ranked in an impressive $161 million dollars worldwide, prompting a sequel just three years later. While the first film’s blockbuster pedigree is mostly evident, the film’s luke-warm responses made some viewers just a tad bit skeptical about its sequel, London Has Fallen. And for good reason.
In the film’s opening scene, Najafi plainly reintroduces us to the first films most prized possession; secret service agent Mike Banning (Gerard Butler, “Gods of Egypt”). After the massive (and highly unlikely) events that occurred, our protagonist is considering retirement and with a terrorist filled world and an expecting wife, who can blame him? While some of the character development on Banning is cliché, Butler’s comfortable performance reels in familiar audiences. He is your standard good guy, he has the good looks, masculinity and humor that America has become accustomed to in modern action films.
Like the first installment, we are once again, given an extremely talented supporting cast; an every-man commander in chief in Aaron Eckhart (“My All American”), as President Benjamin Asher. A newly appointed Vice President in Allan Trumbull, played by Morgan Freeman (“Lucy”) and filling out the rest of the cast are veteran screen stars Angela Bassett (“Green Lantern”), Robert Forster (“The Descendants”), Radha Mitchell (“Expecting”), and Alon Moni Aboutboul (“Body of Lies”) as our main antagonist.
Aboutboul provides an uncomfortably formulaic performance as terrorist Aamir Barkawi. His character seeks revenge on the United States for the death of his daughter and he essentially wants the President’s head on a stick. Prior to this, we are given a relatively believable plot point, that brings all of the world leaders to London, England. For some reason, our President isn’t very worrisome, even after the ridiculous attacks that basically levelled “Olympus” in the first film. Fortunately for him, agent Banning has his back and remains protective throughout.
Similar to the films predecessor, Butler makes this film his own. Showcasing another one of his signature brooding action performances, with a few one-liners thrown in (perfectly I must add). Unfortunately for Butler, he is surrounded by laughable CGI explosions and a plot so predictable, that if you’ve seen the trailer, you’ve seen the film. Gerard’s breathtaking combat sequences, gives London Has Fallen a one-man army type of feel, as his character escorts the President of the United States through the streets and underground of London.
It’s nothing short of entertaining to watch Butler smash a mans body between a truck and a wall while he screams “Fuck me? No fuck you.” It’s events like these in London Has Fallen (and there are plenty) that will elate the typical action film lover. It’s also events like these that will cause the average audience member to either laugh out loud or cringe (or maybe do both at the same time).
While the plot is increasingly predictable, it is impressive to see the boldness of this franchise’s action. Although Najafi fails to insert a memorable project into the action/thriller genre, London Has Fallen is a decent popcorn flick with your standard amount of jokes, gunfights and explosions. Even the strictest of critics will walk out with a smile, even if they’re left wondering, “Did we just watch the same exact film from three years ago?”