Film Review: London Has Fallen @ Vue Cardiff
Director: Babak Najafi
Starring: Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Morgan Freeman
15, 99 mins
As London's landmarks crumbled unceremoniously to the ground, I couldn't help but feel it did so with more grace and self-respect than Babak Najafi's landmark 10th directorial car-crash.
This assault on the senses opens with a crushingly unenlightened vilifying of the Middle East (was I wrong to expect more from a Swedish-Iranian director?), through every cliche, stereotype and tired imitation I would come to expect from a scriptwriter who'd left his homework until the bus journey on his way to the studio.
Cold-war-accented, aspiring Bond villain, Alon Aboutboul seeks to avenge the murder of his family in a misjudged coalition drone strike that sparked unprecedented retaliation against the West, along with this unforgivable sequel to Olympus Has Fallen. When the British Prime Minister unexpectedly dies in his sleep, the world's leaders (minus Russia... isn't Hollywood topical?!) and media descend on the British capital to attend the funeral and, as we're so ominously reminded, the most heavily protected event on the planet..!
Naturally, it has fallen on Secret Service agent, expectant father and hopeful retiree with no respect for Presidential protocol, Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) to save the President (Aaron Eckhart)/day/world with his finest Bruce Willis impersonation.
In the age of global surveillance and shared intelligence, the baddies have miraculously managed to replace every London bobby, paramedic, soldier and pedestrian in the city with their own. Cue explosions, wooden acting, such riveting dialogue as "I'm thirsty as f***", and a thinly-veiled anti-Middle Eastern agenda that involves sending terrorists back to "F***headistan".
The ensuing carnage from a series of co-ordinated terrorist strikes across the capital might appear frighteningly close to the bone of recent events (lingering scenes of exploding double-deckers spring to mind) but, twinned with the rather amateurish CGI and unconvincing cinematography, it leaves the viewer feeling simultaneously raw and disappointed.
Like Gerard Butler himself, the film stumbles clumsily from scene to scene with very little regard for continuity, realism, political sensitivity, or even the viewer's enjoyment for that matter. A shameless exercise in self-promotion for the lead actors, featuring as little acting as their contracts would allow, and as much indulgence as the special effects purse could stretch to.
The film closes on Vice-President Morgan Freeman's shameless and self-righteous proselytising about America's need to police Middle Eastern affairs at any cost. This leaves me to question whether the film was in fact anything more than a vessel to celebrate a flawed and destructive foreign policy, or simply the prequel to Team America: World Police, only with poorer acting.
Rating: * (1 star)
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