If there was hall of fame voting for action movie heroes, super Secret Service agent Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) would make a strong case for his inclusion with “London Has Fallen.” The character has the wicked wit of Bruce Willis, the gritty grit of Arnold Schwarzenegger and the mumbled dialogue delivery of Sylvester Stallone.
Combine that with a production that’s a relentless barrage of over-the-top violence, video game style battles and special effects that will knock the cup of afternoon tea right out of your hand, and this film is the stuff dreams of action movie fans are made of.
“London Has Fallen” is a follow up to “Olympus Has Fallen,” the 2013 film that introduced Banning in a film that was “Air Force One” meets “Die Hard.” Director Babak Najafi has stepped up the action by taking the fight with terrorists to London during the funeral for a world leader.
Banning’s super sensitive terrorist senses are tingling, but President Benjamin Asher (Aaron Eckhart) must make an appearance. As suspected, the funeral is part of an elaborate plot to lure world leaders into a trap.
It’s one thing for terrorist to blow up a few cars and buildings. The action in this film is so ramped up that the initial volley features spectacular destruction of almost every famous landmark in London.
The action gets even more intense when Banning and the President end up on foot trying to make their way to a safe place. Their trek is littered with the bodies of terrorists taken out in a variety of fashions.
Even the filmmakers don’t deny that the movie is overflowing with violence. After Banning slowly kills one of the terrorists while broadcasting the torturous end to the terrorist’s brother, the President asks Banning if that was necessary.
Banning says it wasn’t.
But, it was necessary. These kind of action movies are judged by body counts but how the kills are made. One sequence where Banning and a small group of soldiers storm the terrorist stronghold is so filled with death and destruction it looks like a video game. That’s because Hollywood has always courted young moviegoers and the majority of them has spent time rolling up their own kill totals in games.
The acting in “London Has Fallen” isn’t bad. But worrying about acting in this kind of movie is like looking at the Indy 500 and commenting on the paint job of each car. It’s nice that it’s there, but it’s really not the driving part of the production.
It’s a little weird that Melissa Leo was brought back as part of the President’s cabinet and given only one line. Her connection to “Olympus Has Fallen” isn’t strong enough to warrant an Oscar nominee getting so little to do.
At least Butler gets to redeem himself for his painful work in “Gods of Egypt.” To be fair to Butler, Meryl Streep would have looked like an amateur in the “Gods of Egypt” mess.
Again, this isn’t a movie about acting or plot. It takes the unrelenting violence of a video game, wraps it in a flag of patriotism and delivers it through an action hero who is as quick with a knife as he he is with a smart assertive line.
London may have fallen but Banning is quickly rising in the ranks of action film heroes.
London Has Fallen
Cast: Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Morgan freeman, Angela Bassett
Director: Babak Najafi
Rated R (violence, language)
Opens: Friday, March 4