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"LONDON HAS FALLEN"
(2016) (Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart) (R)


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QUICK TAKE:
Action: A secret service agent must protect the President during a massive terrorist attack during a state funeral held in London.
PLOT:
Having saved the day and the life of President Benjamin Asher (AARON ECKHART) a few years back, Secret Service agent Mike Banning (GERARD BUTLER) is ready to tender his resignation, what with his wife, Leah (RADHA MITCHELL), about to give birth to their first child. But then word comes that the Prime Minister of Britain has died of a heart attack. Realizing the high profile risks of a state funeral, Mike scuttles his plans for the moment and joins his boss, Lynne Jacobs (ANGELA BASSETT), in planning how to protect POTUS during the three-day event that will take place in London.

As they and other world leaders arrive, a massive terrorist attack occurs. Not only does that leave much of the city's landmarks destroyed, but it's also killed various heads of state, lots of bystanders, and has resulted in Mike and President Asher being on the run after their Marine helicopter is downed by a surface to air missile. It's not long before Vice President Allan Trumbull (MORGAN FREEMAN) back in Washington receives a video communication from Aamir Barkawi (ALON MONI ABOUTBOUL), an arms dealer who's on the most wanted list. His demands are simple. Give him President Asher or he'll unleash more terrorist attacks around the world.

Trumbull refuses, and thus Barkawi wants his imbedded frontline men, including his son, Kamran (WALEED ZUAITER), along with Sultan Mansoor (MEHDI DEHBI), to track down and capture the President, all while Mike is determined to keep Asher safe. With the help of MI6 agent Jacqueline Marshall (CHARLOTTE RILEY), he does his best to do just that until U.S. military help can arrive and get them out of harm's way.

OUR TAKE: 5.5 out of 10
Seeing the current debacle that is the 2016 U.S. Presidential race, I have no idea why anyone short of a megalomaniac would want the job. While some good can come out of it, for the most part it's a four or eight year endurance test of non-stop problems, an opposition party that won't want to work with you, at least half or more of the electorate disapproving of you and your efforts, and even some of your own people and others abroad wanting you dead. No wonder every President past and present look like they've gone through an aggressive and sped-up aging process.

Considering it's been three years since we last saw President Benjamin Asher, he surprisingly doesn't look that much worse for the wear. And that's even after losing a wife and then having terrorists invade the White House, apparently never having watched "Die Hard" before executing their plan. But instead of John McClane being in the wrong place at the wrong time once again, it was a Secret Service agent who pretty much single-handedly saved the day. Yes, all of that went down in the first of 2013's two "attack the White House" films, "Olympus Has Fallen."

In this sequel directed by Babak Najafi (who replaces Antoine Fuqua, and works from a script by Creighton Rothenberger & Katrin Benedikt and Christian Gudegast and Chad St. John), we see the agent (a returning Gerard Butler, hoping to distance himself from last week's ultra expensive flop, "Gods of Egypt") preparing to tender his resignation from the Service, something the President (Aaron Eckhart, also reprising his role) hasn't caught wind of yet.

Before Mike fires off that email, however, the Prime Minister of England keels over from an apparent heart attack, thus necessitating a state funeral. You know, the high profile type service the bad guys long for. Realizing that, Mike and his boss (Angela Bassett) are as jittery as cats on a hot tin roof as they accompany POTUS over to London. Before they can even freshen up, the bad guys strike, destroying much of the city's landmarks and leaving countless dead, including numerous heads of state.

Mike and Lynne get the Prez out of immediate harm's way and back up in the air, only to have their three Marine choppers downed by surface to air missiles. Yeah, the villains -- Middle Eastern types rather than North Koreans this time around, a switch that has uber liberal reviewers with their panties all in a wad and thus denouncing the flick -- have come packing and then some. All of which result in Mike and POTUS being on foot, with the former trying to keep the latter alive all while Morgan Freeman does his thing back in D.C. as the V.P., and Charlotte Riley appears as a MI6 agent who Mike trusts to help them out.

I don't recall much about the first flick other than plenty of decent action scenes and a constant state of comparing it to "Die Hard" considering all of the similarities. With the latter now pretty much a moot point, especially with the action no longer confined to generally one locale, the result is a serviceable action flick. Is it politically correct? No, not in today's "let's not offend anyone by casting them as villains" mindset. Are those villains fleshed out or interesting along the lines of the late, great Alan Rickman's Hans Gruber? Not even close.

But Butler has an appealing machismo that serves him well in taking care of business, and there are enough comic relief one-liners that little of this will be taken seriously. It's not much more than a video game brought to life on the big screen, with the good guy saving the day by fighting, shooting and blowing up the bad guys and thus saving the President and the American way of dealing with the world.

Is it great or even memorable? No, but if you're looking for a "don't mess with us, rah-rah America rules" action flick where the good guys win and the bad guys lose, "London Has Fallen" will be right up your alley. I enjoyed the cathartic release of it all and thus give the film a 5.5 out of 10.




Reviewed February 25, 2016 / Posted March 4, 2016


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