Film review of the action thriller London Has Fallen starring Gerard Butler as a Secret Service Agent who must save US President Aaron Eckhart, who is stranded in London following a terrorist attack.
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Director: Babak Najafi. (99mins). Millennium Films/Gerard Butler-Alan Siegel/LHF Film. (15).
Cast & credits
Producers: Gerard Butler, Mark Gill, Danny Lerner, Alan Siegel.
Writers: Creighton Rothenberger, Katrin Benedikt, Christian Gudegast, Chad St. John.
Camera: Ed Wild.
Music: Trevor Morris.
Sets: Joel Collins.
Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Morgan Freeman, Alon Moni Aboutboul, Angela Bassett, Robert Forster, Melissa Leo, Radha Mitchell, Charlotte Riley.
Several heads of state travel to London to attend the funeral of the incumbent British Prime Minister. Unbeknownst to the intelligence services, a number of terrorists (led by Aboutboul) are amongst the British security and police, intent on killing the dignitaries, in retaliation for the earlier killing of Aboutbsoul’s daughter during her wedding. Ace Secret Service agent Butler is quick on the draw when the American President (Eckhart) is attacked, taking into London to keep him safe. But the terrorists will stop at nothing to claim the leader of the free world as they want to assassinate him online.
You know you’re getting old when you look at Presidents in American films and think they look younger than you.
Or perhaps it’s ever since Obama was elected at age 47 in 2009 that the handsome and square jawed Eckhart merely appears in my mind to be so youthful and fresh-faced.
Here he is then, dashing around niftily in a punchy, well-paced and excitingly staged movie, despite the hackles-raising title (at least for a Brit settling himself down to watch an American made blockbuster). London Has Fallen…but thank heaven’s Uncle Sam is there to raise us up again!
Thankfully, the writers do not go down this well-trodden path. Polite jokes from the British about the American delegation wanting cheerleaders and the Queen liking the Kardashians indicate someone gets the British piss-taking sense of humour.
There is a general avoidance of the naff jingoistic dialogue that abound in such films, although poundingly obvious lines such as “this is the most protected event on Earth” and ‘the most important people on the planet are in our care” clearly set us up for a calamity to come.
Butler’s character (a proper, bona fide hardass if ever there was, who seems to stoically enjoy breaking necks and impaling people) importantly is not on hand to rescue the UK. He’s there to save his boss and nothing else; a refreshing approach.
The film dawdles along just a fraction too slowly to begin with, but when the action begins it doesn’t for a second let go of you, making for a thrillingly efficient 99 minute fun ride through the capital. (Hats off and a pat on the back for director Najafi and his unit teams for delivering the goods most satisfyingly).
In between Butler’s stern-faced heroics, Eckhart’s noble suffering and Freeman’s autumnal, reasoned but tough diplomacy, there are a trio of female performers twittering and jumping around to make themselves heard.
Bassett is a no nonsense head of the Security Service (reprising her role from the 2013 auctioneer Olympus Has Fallen). Riley is a feisty British MI6 operative who sniffs a mole amongst the ranks but pity poor Mitchell as Butler’s now heavily pregnant wife, also appearing again. I’ve always liked Mitchell, she’s a good actress and is actually quite effective her with what little part she has, but suffers the fate of all female characters in such films who get themselves up the duff – relegated to what is merely a throwaway cameo.
NB: This film features not only almost the same entire cast but most of the backroom people too (writers, composer, producers – note Butler’s name here again).
This time, they’ve splashed out even more, a whopping $105m compared to the original film’s $70m, which eats into the original profit margin somewhat.
Interestingly, the names of all of the core characters are flashed up on-screen when they first appear, making the film appear like a very expensive documentary.