REVIEW – LONDON HAS FALLEN

If you’re a fan of Gerard Butler, you’ll like this film. If you’re a fan of action, you’ll like this film. A vast improvement from the first movie Olympus Has Fallen. Butler reprises his role as Mike Banning a Secret Service bodyguard for President Benjamin Asher, again portrayed by Aaron Eckhart. We first see the duo long distance racing. You could call this an establishing shot, or maybe even foreboding what we can expect from the rest of the film. A lot of running. There are even jokes about it half way through the film.

I mention initially, if you’re a fan of Butler, you’ll like this film, and I really mean it. Not since 300 have I seen Gerard move with the grace and skill of a protector. I don’t know if it was a stunt double, I believe it to actually be Butler, the stunts and effects in this film were huge. The action starts almost straight away and let me tell you, watching it in VMAX, it was loud. So much so that twice, and I say this because I rarely jump, twice, I nearly jumped out of my seat (thankfully I wasn’t holding popcorn either time as it literally would have gone all over the place). When dignitaries land in London for a significant event, things take a turn.

To say that the special effects from this point on were mild, is an understatement. The fight sequences came one after the other. On the ground, on the water, in the air. A smart technique, making the audience respond in a similar way to how the characters would. Mainly, out of breath. Maybe it was the sheer magnitude or more like the scale in which London was being affected. If you look at the difference from the first film, all action took place in one location. Here we’re running all around London. From what was ‘the building’, changes to ‘the whole city’. Which again, can seem overwhelming but hey, it worked. The sound added to this, between the explosions, buildings falling, the whizzing of the motorcycles and the blaring air sirens, the sound made an impact. We soon discover that the aim behind all these attacks is to apprehend the the president.  One small issue, the editing especially in parts of the earlier action sequences seemed sub par. Admittedly it could have slowed down a bit, but you know what, it’s a point of difference from other films. Where the filmmakers have wanted to bring a sort of realistic, somewhat authentic feel to the panic and rush the characters feel. Entering a world that is non-stop action, we’re thinking this is definitely the aim of director Babak Najafi.

Then, in between all that you get the occasional funny remark from either Butler or Eckhart to bring the level of anxiety down. Morgan Freeman as Vice President Trumbull, I really enjoyed it. The audience really responded to Freeman, as the cool VP, when we first see him he laughs and jokes around with Banning. The audience laugh along. We reach the end and he’s on the phone talking to the mastermind behind the chaos that surrounds the film and he’s quite bold. Like I said, audiences enjoyed seeing Freeman in a somewhat different role, yes he seems to be drawn to characters with power and in this film it’s no different, he’s just also quite charismatic. The scenes between Freeman and Alon Aboutboul, who portrays Aamir Barkawi a criminal and the mastermind behind the operation, were steady moments within the film. Between all the running and fighting, you explore the story more through these characters. Find out more of the back story as to why he as the Prime Minister puts it, is, ‘taking revenge’ on the key political figures.

I have to say, two main plot points, we annoyingly figured out early on. One concerning Lynne Jacobs played by Angela Bassett and the other a mole in a certain organisation. Also add to that I kept thinking of Die Hard and White House Down. Kind of comparing as well as realising some aspects were quite similar. Maybe even expecting story lines to parallel. In some cases, especially when it’s just two characters supporting each other, you could say it did. Like I said though, the relationship between Banning and the President really worked. Probably because they were friends as well as associates, so you could believe that the witty report between the two was somewhat natural (well as natural as you could get in a film).

Leah Banning. Whilst I love Radha Mitchell and think she is a wonderful actress I feel the opening scene was a little stale. The scenes she’s involved in around the middle and end, I enjoyed far better. It could be that the set design seemed a little clinical and almost one dimensional when it came to bringing life to both the room and therefore the scene. Maybe that’s why it didn’t work for me, a couple of yellow paint samples on the wall is about all you’ll get to bring life to the room.

The last half hour was quite gripping. Some of Butler’s best work here. However, one thing I did notice, yes, the ending was dramatic, the combat choreography was well produced, but for some reason it felt a little like a video game. Banning is about to go in to the building solo and the movements or more so the view from that point on seemed like you were from the point of view of a gamer.

This film was quite surprising. I hadn’t seen the commercials, so I went in with the idea thinking it was going to be as boring as the first one (ok, I may need to watch the first film again) but left the theatre thinking  it was better than expected.

Rating: 3/5

☆☆☆

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