Film review: London Has Fallen – A great cast is trapped in a woeful film

Executives down at Millennium Films must have been rubbing their hands together after the surprise success of their 2013 blockbuster, Olympus Has Fallen. After amassing a respectable $160 million against a relatively small budget, a sequel was greenlit as soon as it rolled out of cinemas.

Fast-forward three years and its successor, London Has Fallen, starts off a busy Spring for the film industry. With much of the original cast reprising their roles, can lightning strike again? Or is this a shameless cash in?

Gerard Butler and Aaron Eckhart in London Has Fallen. Photo by Focus Features.

Gerard Butler and Aaron Eckhart in London Has Fallen. Photo by Focus Features.

Gerard Butler returns as secret agent Mike Banning, with Butler also in a producing role, assigned to protect President Benjamin Asher, Aaron Eckhart also reprising his role, in London as the pair attend the funeral of the British Prime Minister. Naturally, things take a turn for the worse and both President Asher and Banning are caught in a deadly terrorist attack on the city.

The plot is downright ridiculous with Butler looking almost Terminator-like as he dispatches hundreds of vicious terrorists on the streets of London, never breaking into a sweat in the process. Even the President gets in on the action, instead of you know, fleeing for safety like the leader of one of the biggest nations on Earth would do.

With the current climate, London Has Fallen is downright woeful, playing on our fears of urban terrorism like no film before it and after the shocking attacks in Paris last year, and for those still haunted by the memories of 7/7, it is in incredibly poor taste.

The dialogue and numerous plot holes only add salt to the wounds. If this was a serious drama, looking at the appalling ripples terrorism has across the world, then the central premise could be forgiven somewhat, but it isn’t and the uses of comedy throughout are truly dreadful, not once hitting the mark.

Elsewhere, the special effects are some of the worst ever put to film. A helicopter escape across London is laughable and the use of grainy stock footage is far too obvious. It’s clear that director Babak Najafi couldn’t film certain scenes on his tiny budget, instead deciding that dated archive footage was a reasonable substitute – it isn’t.

But by far the worst part of London Has Fallen is how it wastes its talented cast. Morgan Freeman, who stars as Vice President Allan Trumble, is leagues above the standard of this atrocity, and somehow manages to provide a sense of class throughout.

The cinematography is awful, especially towards the film’s sickly sweet finale, and many in the unsuspecting audience said it looked like a third-person video game as Gerard Butler somersaults his way around a poorly-lit construction site.

Overall, London Has Fallen is an appalling excuse for a film. As well as wasting a great cast, it continuously wields one of the world’s greatest fears like a child who’s found his dad’s gun, and for me, that is unforgivable. It may cram a lot of things into 99 minutes, but not a single one is done with any passion.

London Has Fallen rating: 2/10