President is in peril in ‘London Has Fallen’
There are different kinds of movies during different seasons that allrequire a different kind of evaluation. Action movies serve a specific purpose. While theymight not be as life changing as some of the films nominated for Best Picture, they have a certain appeal.
Sometimes you just want to go to the movies to be entertained. It doesn’t have to be a deep, thought provoking story, just a well-made film. “London Has Fallen” falls into that category.
A couple years ago we had dueling films about the White House under siege. “Olympus Has Fallen” was the more R-rated of the two, and one that people seemed to enjoy more. A few years later, the principle players are back with another story of the president in peril.
“London Has Fallen” picks up a few years later. Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) is now the key man on the president’s (Aaron Eckhart) detail. Trumbull (Morgan Freeman) is now the vice president, Mike is settled into a quiet life with Leah (Radha Mitchell) and they’re expecting a baby. He’s also thinking about resigning from the Secret Service.
But when the Prime Minister of England is killed, all the world leaders are summoned to London for a funeral. Mike puts his plans on hold and takes point on the rush operation.
It’s not long after they land when everything goes down hill. Coordinated attacks occur throughout the city, world leaders are killed and Mike is soon on the run, facing a hail of terrorists and gunfire, while trying to keep the president safe.
Back in Washington, D.C. Turnbull watches the attacks and tries to put resources in place to make sure Mike can do his job and get the president back to the United States in one piece.
As I said, this isn’t a deep movie. It doesn’t need to be. There is a part of the story that surrounds drone attacks, remote warfare and comes close to wanting to make a statement about that. But this isn’t the kind of movie for political statements, and in the end it goes back to being about the United States being better, faster and stronger than any terrorist. Or at least Mike Banning is.
Butler is perfect in these kind of movies. He has an affable charm, an every man quality and handles the action sequences well. He doesn’t really need to deliver any powerhouse lines or do much more than look cool and make some witty quips. And it works.
The film does have some strong actors. Melissa Leo — an Oscar winner — and Jackie Earle Haley — an Oscar nominee — offer a few well-placed line readings in the Situation Room. Eckhart seems sufficiently presidential. Angela Bassett fills a key role as the head of the Secret Service. None of the roles are incredibly memorable, but they work.
Then there’s Freeman, who adds all the gravitas the film needs. He gets to make the most poignant speeches and helps tie everything together. It’s a simple formula, but it’s executed well.
“London Has Fallen” doesn’t skimp on the action. There’s plenty happening here, the effects work well and the action sequences are satisfying. The film also clocks in at a crisp 99 minutes, so it doesn’t out stay its welcome.
I could easily see this being the kind of breezy franchise that pops up every couple of years, laying waste to a new city until Mike Banning can save the day. There are worse ways to spend an afternoon at the movies.
“London Has Fallen” has been rated R by the Motion Picture Association of America for R for strong violence and language throughout. Enter with caution.
Three stars out of four.