Review: “London Has Fallen”

Movie Review

The Prime Minister of England has died unexpectedly and leaders from around the world are gathering for his funeral, including the President of the United States, Benjamin Asher (played by Aaron Eckhart). The logistics of transportation and security of the President at a huge state funeral is the responsibility of Secret Service Agent Mike Banning (Gerard Butler).

Just as they arrive at the funeral, a carefully planned terrorist attack erupts in London with gunfire, explosions and even a bomb-laden barge making its way down the Thames River. It is clear that many police, security, military, and EMT personnel are terrorist imposters and it is very hard to distinguish between terrorists and “good guys.” Banning spends the rest of the movie trying to save President Asher from the meticulously planned attack. This involves single-handedly wiping out dozens of terrorists, as they work their way to safety in London, only to be captured in the terrorists’ headquarters.

olympus-fallen-butler-eckhart

Gerard Butler, left and Benjamin Asher. Source: Focus Features, Gramercy Pictures

Back in the United States, Vice-President Trumbull (Morgan Freeman) and the entire national security staff remotely follow the chaos as it plays out in downtown London. In the process, Trumbull exchanges phone calls with the mastermind of the vengeance-motivated attack, Amir Barkawi (Alon Aboutboul).

It is here that the leader of the attack, Kamran Barkawi, son of Amir (Waleed Zuaiter), explains that he will execute the President on a live video feed around the world.

Viewers barely have a moment to catch their collective breaths before the next gun battle, grenade blast, car chase or explosion, right up to the end of the movie. If you see this movie in a theater (we went to the drive-in), do not be surprised if a perfect stranger buries her (or his) face in your shoulder trying to avoid seeing what is clearly about to be a bad (and disturbing) scene.

The movie was well cast, although the only actor I recognized was Morgan Freeman (I am not a real movie buff—yet), even though I have seen “The Dark Night” (Eckhart) and “Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life” (Butler).  They are supported by an excellent cast who play believable characters. The film is directed by Babak Najafi.

The dialogue (which is somewhat “coarse” but probably appropriate) is crisp, helping move the story forward at a rapid pace.  The “R” rating is also appropriate, both for language and violence. The fact that many of the key scenes in the plot are shot in a nighttime environment adds to the drama and suspense.

The movie, which cost an estimated $60 million to produce, was released March 4, 2016 and as of March 9 had grossed nearly $27 million (Source: IMDb.com).

With high-speed car chases, missiles shooting presidential helicopters, and more guns than some third-world nations, “London Has Fallen” is pure entertainment for over-the-top action junkies. It is, however (in my opinion), unlikely to win an Academy Award—unless there is a category for the most gunfire in a movie.

Author’s Note: I am not accustomed to writing movie reviews, just could not resist the the opportunity to give it a try. Perhaps the most exciting thing I learned was that there is a new “Star Trek” movie scheduled for release in late summer!

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