‘London Has Fallen’
Director: Babak Najafi
Stars: Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart
2 (out of 5) Globes
“That all they got?” quips one of the good guys towards the end of “London Has Fallen.” This, after terrorists have blown up the city’s every major landmark, assassinated five world leaders and taken out untold innocent civilians. Making its predecessor “Olympus Has Fallen” look like “Eddie the Eagle,” this aggro sequel doesn’t play nice, opening with a drone strike on a Pakistani wedding, gunning down a Angela Merkel lookalike and generally offering a super-sized version of the November Paris attacks as bloody entertainment. It’s a right-wing ’80s fantasy on the order of “Rambo III” and “Death Wish 3,” in which only a lone, politically incorrect badass with perfect aim and unlimited ammo can save us from carnage that seems like a Breitbart wet dream.
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It’s also, in spurts, bluntly effective and economically made, provided one can periodically ignore its politics and rampant stupidity (and yen for bad quips). Once again, Gerard Butler’s Secret Service god Mike Banning is tasked with saving the president (Aaron Eckhart), this time when he’s lured, along with numerous other leaders, to London after the sudden death of the Prime Minister. (Sorry, David Cameron.) It’s a trap, of course, hatched by scary Middle Easterners who want to bring Western powers to their knees. Their painstakingly planned scheme is no match for Banning, whose scheme involves simply shooting and occasionally stabbing dozens, maybe hundreds, maybe even thousands of rando baddies until there’s no one left.
There’s a certain Cro-Magnon charm, if you will, to movies like this, even, maybe especially, if you’re on the opposite side of the political spectrum. To those on its wavelength, it indulges their worst instincts: It’s for people who hear about mass shootings and think they could have been stopped if every single person, man, woman and child, had an arsenal on their belts. To those who think that’s a dangerous fantasy, watching a film like “London Has Fallen” — or a Michael Bay film, or even something like the “Entourage” movie — is like briefly entering an alien headspace, where up is down, right is wrong and liberals like Morgan Freeman and Angela Bassett are tasked with spouting rightie lines about killing ’em all and letting god sort ’em out.
It’s also, from a purely technical level, not bad. Swedish director Babak Najakfi — who helmed the roided-up “Easy Money II: Hard to Kill,” which has nothing to do with either the 1983 Rodney Dangerfield comedy nor the 1990 Steven Seagal ass-kicker — keeps finding efficient and versatile ways to film what is essentially the same thing for 99 minutes: Gerard Butler killing people. Butler’s given playful ways to dispatch bad guys, and Najafki’s camerawork and editing present them cleanly and with great force, punctuating each and every blow with real force. Like a Charles Bronson jalopy, it’s offensive, but not un-fun.
When it’s cooking it’s easy to forget how blithely offensive much of this is, or that the script is barely sentient. In between amusingly wasting numerous acclaimed actors — Melissa Leo, undressed and humiliated in “Olympus,” gets maybe three lines, probably just two — it can’t even bother with a subplot about a mole in Scotland Yard, which is resolved in comically anti-climactic fashion. There’s no way to defend a movie like this, in which our hero implores a Middle Eastern character to "Go back to F—headistan!," whose politics are Trump-level incoherent and in which drones kill innocent people but are still totes awesome. Depending on who you’re voting for, you may leave chuckling and needing a cold shower.
Follow Matt Prigge on Twitter @mattprigge