We find this to be an unimaginative and lacklustre sequel to 2013’s Olympus Has Fallen…
Terrorists are stupid bastards, really, aren’t they: taking over the Nakatomi Plaza while John McClane happened to be visiting; taking over Dulles Airport while John McClane happened to be visiting; taking over New York while John McClane happened to live there; taking over the United States while John McClane happened to live there; taking over Moscow while John McClane happened to be visiting; taking over the USS Missouri while Steven Seagal happened to be aboard; taking over some train or whatever that Steven Seagal happened to be aboard; taking over Alcatraz Island despite the strong possibility of Nicolas Cage and Sean Connery happening to infiltrate; taking over Air Force One while Harrison Ford happened to be President; taking over the space prison MS One shortly before Guy Pearce happened to arrive; taking over the White House while Jamie Foxx happened to be President; taking over the White House while Aaron Eckhart happened to be President; and, most recently, taking over London while Aaron Eckhart is still bloody President, and happens to be visiting!
Anyone would think it’s a penchant of theirs to provide cannon fodder for action movies, though it may at least be worth noting that, unlike in Taken 2, this time around it isn’t the very same baddies out for revenge for their many compatriots killed in the first picture. In Olympus Has Fallen, you may recall, an absurdly well-connected group of North Korean renegades blew Washington D.C. to bits with their Behemoth of an AC-130, while the audience wondered what strain of madness it took those renegades to be disavowed as too extreme by the DPRK, of all nations. This time around, there’s an even better-connected villain, an evil Pakistani arms dealer with a grudge against seemingly everyone and who either has half the Metropolitan Police in his pocket, or managed to slip hundreds of own men into the Met right under chief Colin Salmon’s nose. Either way, it’s quite a feat, and one that’s just as well for him when his attack on the UK PM’s funeral gets underway: I said he had a grudge against seemingly everyone, or at least all the leaders of the free world, and luckily for him they’ve chosen to put all their eggs in one basket, allowing him to bump off the Japanese, Italian and French PMs with ease. He even gets German chancellor Agnes Bruckner, whom the film might as well have named Angolan Mackerel. But, look, you can’t keep a good man down, and President Eckhart and his indestructible Secret Service bro Gerard Butler are more than ready to give as good as they get et cetera, and after a disappointingly brief section in which St. Paul’s and Westminster Palace and Westminster Abbey and the Trafalgar Square Yo! Sushi, you know the one, get gleefully smashed up, the film gets on with taking back the streets of London, American-style.
You might wish they hadn’t bothered. Olympus Has Fallen, the more straight-faced and also the better of 2013’s two remarkably similar Die–Hard-in-the-White House thrillers, presented President Eckhart as an absolutely vital asset, one whose death would mean the collapse of the very United States itself, which meant he came across as something of a coward when he allowed many, many people to die in order to save his own life; he wasn’t nearly as tough as President Harrison Ford nor as self-effacingly likeable as President Jamie Foxx. Here, he’s much the same only portrayed with even more seeming indifference, not even bothering to mourn the many world leaders the picture so callously dispatches. Eckhart’s indifference is shared by Gerard Butler, who gave his best Bruce Willis in the first movie, but here sleepwalks through a script full of the most third-rate one-liners, though I’ll confess to enjoying “Everyone here is a terrorist asshole until proven otherwise!”. Left to pick up the slack is an impressive cast of “nice-to-see-them-but-also-deserves-better” actors, including the first film’s returning Morgan Freeman, Angela Basset and Robert Forster, and the new additions of Colin Salmon, Jackie Earle Haley, and Charlotte Riley. Sadly, these quality additions spend most of the picture in clichéd control rooms. Eckhart and Butler have to do all of the actioning themselves, especially as the useless Salmon orders all emergency forces to stand down, neatly allowing the film to continue on a reasonable budget as its stars wander through deserted London streets of the easily-replicable-in-a-studio sort, and never once even stop to appreciate how once-in-a-fucking-lifetime it is that they’re getting to enjoy some peace and quiet in Central London.
The first film had a similar issue, teasing us with the mind-blowingly awesome premise of action shootouts in the White House then spending most of its runtime in same-old, same-old emergency bunkers. But at the same time, that might be a mercy, as Swedish director Babak Najafi, on his first Hollywood production, can’t even live up to the competent action direction Antoine “Training Day and Tears of the Sun” Fuqua managed on the first film; action directors who lack competence are easy to spot by the low lighting and shaky camerawork that makes audiences realise that, whatever it is the cinematography goes to such lengths to conceal, it can’t be worth seeing. Still, better that than the remarkably unconvincing CGI that’s used to demolish buildings. It’s hard to buy that anyone’s in peril at all, and, by the way, the film even manages to underperform Independence Day: the money shot, the one bit worth sitting through the rest of the crap for, the famous landmark getting blown up that’s in the poster (Big Ben, in this case)-? Not even in the film, so save your money and stare at the poster for a bit before going to see something better like, say, Deadpool.
Will you be checking London Has Fallen out? Let us know in the comment box below!