London Has Fallen is more testosterone than substance 


To think, Gerard Butler is in two movies released in the last month and the better, less offensive one is the whitewashed and asinine Gods of Egypt. Unapologetically jingoistic, London Has Fallen is a cinematic explanation for how Donald Trump has garnered any political support.

The shoddily made film follows Butler’s (also a producer of the film, if you wondered about his personal politics) presidential bodyguard Mike Banning as he accompanies President Benjamin Asher (Aaron Eckhart, laughably earnest) to the funeral of England’s prime minister. The gathering of world leaders — gasp! — doesn’t go smoothly.

A group of vaguely Middle Eastern arms dealers have a bone to pick with America after a drone strike kills everyone at their family’s wedding except, apparently, any of the bad guys. The patriarch (Alon Aboutboul) escaped the compound-filling explosion with nothing more than a limp, while one of his sons is now wheelchair-bound.

You think we might be in for a lesson about drone strikes and the desensitization to violence that goes along with raining death with a joystick. You would be wrong.

The lesson this film preaches is that the drone strike should have been more accurate.

Asher and Banning run around London, blasting people down, while the camera swirls and cuts as rapidly as possible. If the film can’t be exciting, it might as well give you whiplash.

Secondary characters, despite their onscreen caption introductions, are superfluous. Morgan Freeman shows up to get paid while Angela Bassett — as Lynne Jacobs, the head of the Secret Service — is immediately reduced to a shrieking housewife, wailing and crying at the first sign of danger. The writers of this hypermacho piece of filmed NRA masturbation don’t think much of women or immigrants or anyone other than tough, beard-sporting white men who drink whiskey.

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After an hour of running around, killing henchmen and spouting sloppily accented one-liners, one wonders how long the film can keep this up. Boring governmental conversations ripped from The Big Book of Thriller Cliches cut right back to action so erratically shot it makes Michael Bay seem like a meticulous military historian.

The plot is nothing more than a running excuse for masochism, with Banning — the same man we’re asked to believe is a loving, caring father later in the film — taking perverse, almost sexual pleasure in knifing his victims. Any nuance of this juxtaposition between sociopathic killer and parenthood is lost on this film and plays almost like an unintentional parody of American Sniper.

London Has Fallen ends much like you’d expect a movie like this to end. The brown, bearded men are dead — either in their bunker or their London hideout — while Banning and the president are fished up by the military. America wins once again.

Freeman delivers a speech about the importance of military activism, as if that’s not literally the reason the villain gives for his motive, and everyone waves the stars-and-stripes.

Iranian director Babak Najafi must not think much of Americans. Either that or he sees us far better than I can. He has made a technically incompetent film highlighting an America that is dumb, toxic, bloodthirsty and just as despicable as any jihadi might have you believe.

That some people will truly enjoy this movie is as damning a cultural signifier as anything.

Print headline: Jingoistic death, London Has Fallen is a bloodthirsty and pointless takedown of American values.

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Jacob Oller

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