Even before stepping into a darkened theatre, no one was expecting or even asking this sequel to 2013’s Olympus Has Fallen to be any good; all anyone wanted was a solid Friday night action flick. As it happens, the kindest thing you can say about London Has Fallen is that it does what it says on the tin: it has graduated from Die Hard in The White House to Jack Bauer saves the President… this time in London. Gerard Butler grumbles his way through yet another role and Aaron Eckhart lets his chin do most of the acting, while Morgan Freeman looks on in a situation room.
The snag is that while the initial plot to snuff all the world’s leaders at a state funeral has promise, London Has Fallen becomes a hideous ode to the America, Fuck Yeah! attitude, minus the satire.
Sure, Air Force One, Independence Day and countless other popcorn blockbusters have done it before, but always with a knowing hint of pastiche. No such thing here; Swedish director Babak Najafi can’t direct traffic and the true culprits are the four screenwriters, who shall be named and shamed: Creighton Rotherberger, Katrin Benedikt, Christian Gudegast and Chad St. John. This creative team have created one of the most unsettlingly inept and politically dubious scripts in years, making you wonder whether they had access to Donald Trump’s strategy playbook or asked Fox News to give their draft a final polish before handing it in. They tick off every genre cliché and national stereotype in the book, pen dialogue so bad it makes Taken sound like Proust, and rely on an overabundance of character sub-headings because they can’t convincingly integrate who’s who into their script. They even expect audiences to cheer at a feckless denouement which sees drones righteously bombard faceless terrorists from “Fuckheadistan”.
That’s a direct quote.
It’s also worth mentioning that the entire events of film are single-handedly caused by US drones accidentally bombing the villain’s daughter’s wedding, thereby setting off the rampage of revenge in the first place… But never mind that: as long as some patriotic flag-waving occurs, the pledge of allegiance is gloriously recited and the line “A thousand years from now, we’ll fucking be here” is aimed at a terrorist, job’s a good’un.
It would be a satire, if any of the four (FOUR!!) screenwriters had any idea what one was.
America, Fuck No.
London Has Fallen | Directed by Babak Najafi (USA, 2016) with Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart and Morgan Freeman. Starts March 10