This film gives credence to radical Islamists’ desire to destroy the West. But at least you can laugh!
As an action film, London Has Fallen is abhorrent and irresponsible. Jingoistic, racist, incompetent and with the mistaken belief that it has a sense of humour. Whilst watching it I veered between laughing at the ham-handedness of some of the film’s storytelling and watching on, gaping mawed, as our ‘hero’ commits cruelty on a scale that used to be reserved for horror film slashers.
London Has Fallen is mostly set in London so American audiences can put themselves in the position of saviours of the world again. The President of the USA visits England’s capital to pay respects to the recently deceased Prime Minister, only to find it’s a trap as the other European leaders are picked off by the most generic Middle Eastern terrorists imaginable. Cue Gerard Butler (still bellowing as if he’s starring in 300) and the President (a miscast Aaron Eckhart who is mostly used by the film to show us how manly a sociopath like Butler’s character is) running through London trying to escape.
And generic they are. One of the many War crimes this film commits is wasting the talents of Alon Aboutboul, Waleed Zuaiter and Mehdi Dehbi as a father and his sons who want revenge for a failed drone strike that killed the rest of their family and crippled Dehbi himself.
Without meaning to, this film gives arms dealers more pathos and empathy than our heroes. This is whilst the villains stroll around the film, embodying every stereotype of people from the Middle East.
This isn’t hard, mind. Gerard Butler is a sadist in this film, gleefully torturing men as their brothers listen on, beating others senseless and calling the POTUS a fag for not having killed another person before. Aaron Eckhart tries his best, but is saddled with the task of being wimpy because he’s a normal human being with emotions and feelings.
I suppose I got some ironic enjoyment out of seeing so many English actors getting a good payday (Colin Salmon as Met Chief Kevin Hazard being my fav) but otherwise the laughs were few and far between. Even the action, such that it was, has been done in a million other films far, far better. The explosions themselves looked like someone had dropped a few GIFs over footage of London landmarks.
Everything about London Has Fallen disgusts me on a very visceral level. It’s ugly, repellent and can only be tolerated with a concentrated effort to distance oneself with irony.
Given how well the film did domestically, I’m guessing this is the mindset of a lot of Americans though. It panders to the worst in us. That thought is more terrifying that the whole film.