17 Mar Movie Review: London Has Fallen
Created and Distributed by: Nu Image and Millennium Films.
Starring: Gerard Butler, Morgan Freeman, Aaron Eckhart, and Alon Moni Aboutboul.
Directed by: Babak Najafi.
Movie Trailer below courtesy of YouTube:
Gerard Butler (Secret Service Special Agent Mike Banning), Morgan Freeman (US Vice President Allan Trumbull), and Aaron Eckhart (US President Benjamin Asher) are back again in a sequel after their huge financial success with “Olympus Has Fallen” in 2013, this time with “London Has Fallen” in 2016.
Before reviewing the film and giving it its real dues, perhaps it needs to be explained to Filipino moviegoers and readers of this article who may be baffled why high grossing films like “Olympus Has Fallen” and now, “London Has Fallen” are considered flops because of its mostly negative reviews.
For a start, remember that American and other western viewers are more critical when it comes to the storyline, while Asian audiences, especially Filipinos, don’t really care about storylines so long as there are a lot of bangs, ratatats, blam blam blam, kaboom, and a lot (really a lot) of dead bodies around. So even if both action films didn’t do well in western countries like the U.S., they do more than pretty well in Asian countries. So the next time you want to capture the Philippine movie market, make sure to have lots of shootings, explosions, blood, gore, intestines, flying body parts, and lots and lots and lots of dead bodies.
Seriously, this is exactly why “London Has Fallen” received mostly negative reviews in the U.S. and Canada, with movie critics complaining that the film was nothing more than a continuation of the “Bruce Willis-type Die Hard in the White House” sadism and killings, with the usual genre and concept of terrorists out to get even with the United States and its allies. There is also the complaint of “London” being a racist film because the Caucasians keep calling the Muslim terrorists bad names and even bad-mouthing their country.
But critics will always be critics, and Filipino audiences (and a whole lot of other people) would have noticed by now that no cries of racism came from “Olympus” since the terrorists in that film were North Koreans. A little praise here is due to actor Rick Yune from South Korea who played a very convincing antagonist as the North Korean mastermind terrorist. However, when the terrorists are Muslims in “London,” suddenly there’s a flurry of cries of “racism.” We often wonder if the same criticism would ever come out if the bad guys are Japanese Yakuza, Chinese invaders, or Filipino terrorists, although the Filipinos are less likely since they wouldn’t even be able to figure out how to do a successful bank robbery, let alone be global terrorists.
Anyway, back to the film, and another critic target is the xenophobia that most of the terrorists working out of the UK in the film were former refugees who took advantage of humanitarian issues in order to infiltrate the country and be “sleeper” terrorists until the time came for them to strike. Again, there’s nothing wrong with this since this reality is happening today and critics are in the wrong to include this issue along with the racism issue to critique the film. But like Rick Yune, Alon Moni Aboutboul deserves his own due as Aamir Barkawi, a Muslim terrorist mastermind, for giving a really good and convincing performance.
So, in the film, (some spoilers ahead) the British Prime Minister dies of mysterious circumstances and so many western world leaders gather for his funeral, only to be killed one-by-one by Muslim terrorists who were formerly refugees but are actually sleeper terrorists. All this is actually a large terrorist trap planned and executed by Aamir Barkawi, #10 on the world’s terrorist list. However, a delay and being always tardy and suspicious saves the U.S. President’s life, though he and his Secret Service detail led by Gerard Butler have to fight for their very survival.
Everyone knows Gerard Butler for his great performances in “Law-Abiding Citizen” and “300” so he gives no less of himself in “London.” He is, of course, always scowling, as he tends to do in all his films, because Gerard is not Gerard without that scowl (can you imagine him kicking that Persian and shouting “This is Sparta!” while smiling?). Morgan Freeman is an all-around award-winning actor (excellent performances in “The Shawshank Redemption”, “Now You See Me”, and “Invictus”) whose talent is somewhat wasted by just sitting around and being the poor vice-president, limited to reacting and showing a shocked face at every explosion and action event. Aaron Eckhart gives a convincing role as the U.S president. However, many feel that he could have waded into the action more rather than cowering in cover since he is an action star with great performances in “Battle: Los Angeles” and “The Dark Knight.”
Perhaps the bigger success of “Olympus Has Fallen” was given the fact that action-director Antoine Fuqua has more experience (“Training Day”, “Southpaw”, “Replacement Killers”, “The Equalizer”, and many others) in contrast to “London Has Fallen” director Babak Najafi, an Iranian-Swedish who has so far only directed four films in Sweden, and none in the U.S.
To be sure, it’s nice to see London and its environs being blown to smithereens and Londoners now being collateral damage since it does get tiring to keep seeing Washington, D.C., New York (or Manhattan), San Francisco, and Chicago always being blown up and its city dwellers ending up as casualties. On this note, Filipinos are quick to note that no more sequels to “London” will be forthcoming, so there’s no chance of seeing Beijing or Manila getting blown up in future films. And please don’t mourn for that Italian Prime Minister because he’s a totally lecherous fellow. Some of the ladies though were whispering, “No, not the hunky Canadian President,” probably referring to Canadian leader Justin Trudeau, who has the same likeness in the film.
“London Has Fallen” is still showing at the SM City Cinemas, Ayala Centrio Mall Movie Houses, Gaisano City Mall Movie Theaters, and Limketkai Center Movie Houses.