Is it insensitive to make a film about a city-wide terrorist attack at a time when people are genuinely scared of commuting to work? In the case of ‘London Has Fallen’, not really: mainly because this sequel to ‘Olympus Has Fallen’ is so joyously ridiculous.
This time, the US President (Aaron Eckhart) is travelling to London with secret agent and ultimate bro Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) for the state funeral of the British Prime Minister. Soon after they land, the city is ablaze with bombs. It turns out terrorists have manipulated the event as an opportunity to assassinate every single world leader in the least subtle way imaginable. Time to get the President outta there.
‘London Has Fallen’ is laced with as many clichés as the original: the President mainly speaks in heartfelt speeches about looking out for the citizens of the United States and Butler, more a likeable lad-on-tour than a stern secret agent, has lines that span from ‘Nothing's wrong, it bugs the hell out of me’ to ‘Make those fuckers pay!’. Dishearteningly, there are very few female characters beyond Angela Bassett’s powerful secret-service director and Charlotte Riley’s flirty MI6 agent.
Still, if you embrace the movie's ‘GI Joe’-style fun swagger, there’s novelty value in seeing London through the lens of a global action movie. The story takes in the Queen’s Guard, the London Underground and pretty much every stop on a tourist-bus tour. It feels like the writers worked their way through a guidebook, ticking off which landmarks to blow up. Sweeping aerial views give the city an air of bombastic grandeur and the likes of St Paul's Cathedral are decimated with the same vigour as was applied to the White House in ‘Independence Day’. It’s all so overly macho that it plays like a camp pleasure-cruise.