Monday, March 7, 2016

London Has Fallen

(Much like this blog.)

A few years back, we had the terribly disjointed and horrifically unrealistic (especially for those of us who live in DC and actually know how this stuff works) Olympus Has Fallen. This weekend, we got the sequel. Sort of. In that we have the same characters, but no one ever mentions that time a terrorist managed to take over the White House and nearly initiate WWIII. Weird.

This time around, we're dealing with Middle Eastern terrorists who aren't really terrorists. And a plan of breathtaking scope and dubious probability of success. And a change of venue. Honestly, it improved the concept considerably.

So, here's the plot. There is an evil Middle Eastern arms dealer, who the US has evidence is deliberately creating terrorist incidents to increase sales. So they bomb his daughter's wedding with a drone strike. (They claim they didn't know it was a wedding, but the MI-6 agent was totally undercover as a caterer, so....) In order to take vengeance, he comes up with a bold plan. Assassinate the PM of Great Britain, then kill all the world leaders who show up for his funeral.

Unfortunately for him, Gerard Butler is on duty, and kills at least as many people as the terrorists in his bid to get the President to freedom.

Yeah, it's a ridiculous testosterone fest, in the best tradition of 80s action movies. There's not a lot of difference between Mike Banning and Dirty Harry Callahan. But, honestly, it works. The screenwriters dropped any pretense of trying to make the plot coherent or clever by just keeping the pressure on so hard that no one really has a chance to ask, "Um, how are they actually pulling this off?" A couple of throwaway lines are used to justify the ridiculous levels of armaments employed, the number of cops that have been replaced by terrorists, and how the bad guys are so amazingly well informed. It's just enough to pull it all together.

So, if we discount the plot, what do we focus on? Well, the action, of course! And there's a lot of it. Butler seems to have gone with the character as a font of rage rather than endless one-liners. He is brutal, efficient, and effective. And so very angry. One of the bits that actually really resonated with me in this movie was that when you kill a faceless guard, he's not faceless to the guard standing next to him. Gunning down Secret Service agents makes the surviving agent very cranky.

The acting was pretty good for a generic action movie. I'm always a fan of Aaron Eckhardt, and he played it straight to type this time around. Morgan Freeman was very laid back, but delivered a couple great speeches in his famous voice. Angela Bassett actually surprised me by adding some real meat and nuance to her otherwise generic sidekick role.

I also have to say that I really liked the MI-6 agent, Jackie. She shows up about halfway through, and honestly I would have much rather seen a movie all about how she dealt with the emergency. Both the actress and the character were solidly done.

The summary is no surprise. If you like brainless, morally simple action movies, I highly recommend putting this in above, say, The Expendables. If you want something nuanced, clever, or funny, you'll have to look elsewhere. I would definitely give this one a pass in the theater, but you should catch it on Netflix or FX at some point.

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