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London Has Fallen ••

London_Has_Fallen_posterStarring: Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Morgan Freeman
Director: Babak Najafi
Screenplay: Creighton Rothenberger, Katrin Benedikt
Action/Crime/Thriller, Rated: R
Running Time: 99 minutes
Release Date: March 4, 2016


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Scott, it looks like Londoners are under attack. Will Gerard Butler be able to save them?

(Dr. Scott Allison, Professor of Psychology, University of Richmond)

The Butler did it, Greg. Let’s recap.

After rescuing the President of the United States from an attack, Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) is now the head of President Benjamin Asher’s (Aaron Eckhart) security detail. They’re in London for a wake for the British Prime Minister. They’re not there long when a massive attack on London kills many heads of state and now Banning and the President are on the run.

The terrorists shoot down the President’s helicopter, sending Banning and the Prez into the subway system for shelter. But the terrorists are everywhere and have succeeded in shutting down the city’s power network. Back at the White House, the Vice President (Morgan Freeman ) and cabinet members are frantically trying to save the President behind the scenes. Meanwhile, the mastermind of the attacks, Barkawi (Waleed Zuaiter), is out to capture the President alive so that he can execute him on live television.


Scott, if Olympus Has Fallen (the prequel) was ridiculous, then London Has Fallen is surreal. The entire premise of this film – that all the world’s leaders could be killed by a massive full-frontal assault on a major city – is impossible to believe. Despite the recent spat of terrorist attacks around the world, I have to believe that SOMEONE would have seen this attack coming.

This was not some two or three person plot that took the lives of 30 or so people. The attack on the screen took out Big Ben, London Bridge, and Yorkshire Tower. There were masked minions by the dozens, nay hundreds, and commando trucks and helicopters aplenty. It was so impossible to believe that the rest of the movie was ruined for me.

I agree, Greg. London Has Fallen should be called Standards Have Fallen. One could argue that it’s unfair to judge a movie by the criterion of believability — after all, how believable is Star Wars or The Hobbit? Still, stuff happens here that simply can’t happen, and so we’re left with a cartoonish fantasy about the unlikely survival of a President and his super-human best-buddy bodyguard. The scenarios in the movie are outlandish and verge on insulting our intelligence.

One way I judge the quality of a movie is by using the rumination test — I consider how much time I spend thinking about the movie in the days following my viewing of it. I hate to say this, but I didn’t give this film a nanosecond of thought between the time I saw it and the time I sat down to write this review. That fact by itself stands testimony to this movie’s utter forgettability. You’d think I’d remember Big Ben collapsing or our President about to be decapitated. Unfortunately, this film somehow managed to portray these cataclysmic events in a humdrum fashion.


It’s not clear who the hero of this film is. On the one hand, Banning is the character who does the active attacking and defending. President Asher is a sort of active damsel in defense. But they are also buddies – with Asher giving Banning life advice on being a new father. To a certain degree, Banning and Asher constitute buddy heroes. They start out together, they go through trials together, and emerge triumphant together. But unlike many buddies, there is little conflict.

Yes, I’d say this is a buddy hero movie with Banning as the action hero and Asher positioned as the focus of Banning’s mission. We see the hero’s journey unfold dramatically with the attack on London, sending our two heroes out of the familiar world and into the dangerous world. What’s missing is any type of transformation. Our heroes start out noble and brave, and they remain that way throughout the story. That’s probably why this movie is so forgettable. We need to see heroes grow and evolve in meaningful ways. One could argue that Banning changes a little because he’s ready to resign his position at the beginning of the film but changes his mind at the conclusion. But that’s hardly a major character shift.

Yeah. He also is overly protective of his unborn child. But Asher gives him some sage advice that makes Banning realize that he can’t cover all the contingencies, nor should he want to. That makes Asher a bit of a sidekick mentor. Not terribly exciting.

Let’s face it, this is just an action film with very little subtlety thrown in. If you like a lot of explosions and nameless/faceless minions getting blown away, you will be happy with London has Fallen. But I require a bit more character development and plot. So I can only award 2 out of 5 Reels.

Our buddy heroes start out together and end up together, both physically and emotionally. There’s not a lot of dialog between the two so it’s hard to say if they grow much. I give them just 1 out of 5 Heroes.

Finally, Asher acts as a minor mentor character by helping Banning come to grips with his fears of becoming a father. It’s very mild mentoring so I give him just 1 Mentor out of 5.

London Has Fallen is a mindless dark fantasy that covers no new ground and defies credibility in dozens of scenes. This isn’t a bad movie if you’re willing to turn off all critical thinking skills and set your IQ to double digits. I agree with you, Greg, that this film eeks out a rating of 2 Reels out of 5.

As I’ve noted, the hero’s journey is spotty at best. Our two heroes confront severe and deadly challenges in a dark, dangerous world, but there are no missing inner qualities that they must acquire to succeed in their mission. Growth and change in our heroes is missing, a fact which dooms this story to mediocrity. These heroes earn a mere 2 Heroes out of 5.

Greg, it could be argued that Asher and Banning mentor each other, and it is also possible that there is some self-mentoring going on, with both our highly trained heroes relying on teachings from their distant past to guide them through the current crisis. In fact, as Asher is about to be executed, he recites the Presidential Oath — the mentor in this case is not a living being but rather a code of conduct. A rating of 3 Mentors out of 5 seems about right to me.


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