Magazine article Screen International

'London Has Fallen': Review

Magazine article Screen International

'London Has Fallen': Review

Article excerpt

Dir. Babak Najafi. US, 2016, 99 mins.

Raining vengeful cheese on the enemies of the USA and her allies, Gerard Butler packs his best Liam Neeson squint to defend the British capital single-handedly in London Has Fallen. A follow-up to 2013's Olympus Has Fallen, which surprised the world with a $168m take, this is the love-child of The Bodyguard and Taken, and, indeed, can be equally entertaining in much the same preposterous way - at least in its early parts. But creepy "send them back to Fuckheadistan" sentiment overwhelms London Has Fallen's guilty pleasures, its meaty violence and xenophobic nastiness giving the cheddar an unpleasant aftertaste.

Director Babak Najafi(Easy Money II: Hard To Kill) struggles to turn the giant wheel of this nascent Millennium Films/G-Base franchise (the original was directed by Anton Fuqua). Opening globally this weekend, London Has Fallen is unlikely to win over many critics, but neither did its sire, which laughed all the way to the bank. Carrying a 15 rating in the UK, this is a tub-thumping assault with iffy racist undertones which looks, by its final sequences, very much like a video game and ends with the rallying words: "God Bless The USA!". Word-of-mouth could be tepid.

It's a shame, in a way. When London falls, it's quite spectacular - world leaders assembled for the UK Prime Minister's funeral in either St Paul's or Westminster Cathedral (it's unclear which edifice Najafiis opting for) are taken out by rogue British police and emergency services and the US president escapes to a helicopter dog-fight in the skies above the Houses of Parliament. Although London Has Fallen's approach to the UK capital's topography is akin to tossing up a set of Monopoly cards and filming where they land, it's a lot more exciting than last year's Spooks, and it's got Aaron Eckhart returning as the President, Angela Bassett back as head of the secret service, and Morgan Freeman as the Veep (the film is knowing enough to play heroic music when Freeman first appears).

By the end, though, it's Gerard Butler in a subterranean soundstage in Bulgaria, delivering one-liners including "I'm thirsty as fuck!" for laughs as he bloodily impales squadrons of leering Asians. It's hard to read which demographic London Has Fallen is aiming for - right-wing militias? - but even they're likely to come out feeling a little grubby after the film mines Twin Towers paranoia to get to a climax with a threatened decapitation for its cheap kicks. …

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