Year Released: 2016
Directed by: Babak Najafi
Starring: Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Morgan Freeman
(R, 100 min.)
Genre: Action and Adventure
“To those who threaten our freedom: America will rise up. And make no mistake; we will find you, and we will destroy you.” Vice President Trumbull
Pack away your PC proclivities with your winter underwear and embrace this guilty pleasure thriller.
Oh, and you’ll have to “suspend you disbelief” as well, a rather convoluted way of saying that the plot stretches credibility to the breaking point. But, perhaps not quite as incredible as we might have thought a mere six months ago, given the recent events in Paris and Brussels
Let’s set the table:
The story begins in London, where the British Prime Minister has passed away under mysterious circumstances. His funeral is a must-attend event for leaders of the western world. However, what starts out as the most protected event on Earth turns into a deadly plot to kill the world's most powerful leaders, devastate every known landmark in the British capital, and unleash a terrifying vision of the future.
But the scriptwriters only wound political correctness; they do not decapitate it. Sort of the same somewhat safe Bond adventures during the cold war era, when it was Spectre and not the Soviet Union itself discombobulating 007 and the whole world. Our Pakistani villain is no religious zealot. Or as critic Matthew Licona asserts, somewhat tongue and cheek:
And there are bigger things, like a bad guy who is basically a good American capitalist (except he’s from somewhere else), agitating the market in order to create demand for his product. Granted, his product is arms, and agitating the market means fostering political instability. But hey, business is business.
One must get a few anti-capitalist and anti-American remarks in any film review worth its salt, you know. But even as Licona calls the film “a sly attack on American masquerading as a celebration of same,” the very presence of that masquerade, to him, is a disqualifier, meriting a review score of 0 on a 5-point scale.
While, with statistics that would be called an election year rout, a full 61 percent of the viewing public give London Has Fallen thumbs up, versus a mere subversive 24 percent of critics defying their sniveling counterparts.
Count me in with the box office paying public on this one. This film is, as the Brits might say, a jolly good show.
First of all, we have an excellent cast. Gerard Butler recalls the macho righteous defiance he demonstrated in his role as Spartan King Leonidas im 2007’s testosterone charged 300.
Morgan Freeman lends just the right amount of gravitas as Vice President Trumbull, calm and in command even as his world looks to crumble around him. I am sure effete critics may find his words absurdly patriotic, because loving your country and protecting it from foreign enemies is considered xenophobic these days. But I happen to find them inspiring:
To those who threaten our freedom: America will rise up. And make no mistake; we will find you, and we will destroy you.
Aaron Eckhart, playing President Benjamin Asher, has an expanded role here and he displays a ready wit and gritty courage. And he reminds us of his role in 2011’s Battle Los Angeles, where he played a battle-hardened staff sergeant in an equally pro American film that, like a perfect roast beef, was delicious, completely satisfying, and a bit bloody.
Like Eckard in that film, Agent Banning in London Has Fallen is anchored in an undaunted focus on the enemy and its obliteration, unfettered with moral ambiguity or doubts over the righteousness of our cause. Kind of like the films and attitudes of World War II.
The action scenes proceed at a relentless pace, albeit with a Die Hard / Bourne Identity death defying strained credibility, but we’re on board for the for adrenaline-fueled ride and are too busy biting our nails to ask many questions.
Sure, the London icons crumble with a little too much obvious CGI gimmickry, but that is just so much background for the real chase, which keeps us on the edge of our seats throughout. We watch the mayhem from the White House situation room, the British high tech security center, and from the Birdseye view of a rescue helicopter dodging bazookas. But we are up close and personal as Banning and the President have to hoof it through the woods, the underground, and the almost deserted London streets.
The enemy here is an arms dealer, so the list of firearms used in the film is long and detailed. It includes handguns, submachine guns, rifles, machine guns and RPGs, not to mention Banning’s wet work with his knife alone. And Different Drummer could not really find it in herself to wince as Banning puts down the enemies with a robustly efficient abandon that would have made Rambo proud.
Not for the squeamish or the PC crowd, but an action packed thrilling ride for the rest of us. You know you want to see it now, don’t you?
In the opening scene we see the President jogging with his personal secret service agent, Mike Banning. Banning runs like a deer, easily keeping ahead of the very fit President even as he runs backwards.
“What the hell did they make you out of?” quips the President.
“Bourbon and bad choices, “Banning responds without missing a beat.
Well, our London’s Calling Cocktail forgoes any bourbon, but the triumvirate of Dry Gin, Sloe Gin, and Marini Rosso seems a pretty potent British stand-in.
London's Calling Cocktail
Serve in a Martini glass
2 shots London Dry Gin
1 ¼ shot Sloe Gin Liqueur
½ shot Martini Rosso
2 dashes Orange Bitters
Sir all ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled glass
Garnish with orange zest twist.