|'The kind of film that shows you an establishing shot of a Metropolitan Police helicopter flying over the Thames with Big Ben in clear view, and still feels the need to add the caption "London"'.|
For the opening twenty or so minutes, London Has Fallen just about gets by as a below average, somewhat enjoyable but very dumb action film. It's the kind of film that shows you an establishing shot of a Metropolitan Police helicopter flying over the Thames with Big Ben in clear view, and still feels the need to add the caption "London".
Then, as a series of catastrophic explosions ring out over the English capital and the bullets begin to fly, the film gets ugly in every sense of the word. The visual effects, often the saving grace of big dumb action and/or disaster films of this ilk, are woefully unimpressive. Both the blasts and their aftermath fail to convince, looking and feeling like something out of a badly-coded video game. The lack of attention to detail meanwhile persists. Several major London landmarks are totalled through bombings (however unconvincing they may look) that would be seen, heard and felt for miles around. Moments later, we're shown crowds of Londoners obliviously going about their business as President Asher's (Aaron Eckhart) armoured four-by-four hurtles through the streets. It's as if nobody involved in London Has Fallen actually bothered to watch the film after making it.
Babaj Najafi's film displays its backwardly clichéd Middle Eastern antagonists like a badge of honour, whilst using them as an excuse for Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) to become ever more bigoted as he stabs and shoots his way through countless anonymous henchmen, most of whom are inexplicably related to each other. Particularly cring-inducing barbs from Butler's arsenal of hate include “Every single one of these guys is a terrorist asshole until proven otherwise”, and “Why don't you pack up your shit and head back to Fuckheadistan?”, making London Has Fallen feel like a movie Trump supporters might watch to get themselves pumped up before a rally.
Where the film feels ugliest, however, is in its sheer insensitivity for what's currently going on in the real world. In the years following the 9/11 attacks, Hollywood was understandably incredibly cautious over the tone and content of its output. A great many films underwent considerable edits and reshoots, whilst numerous others had their release delayed due to content deemed too close to the bone. It's a fact worth keeping in mind when watching a devastating coordinated terrorist attack on a major European capital unfold in a manner devoid of either tact or empathy, in a film released less than four months after the Paris bombings of November 2015.