In the era of super hero hegemony, where it is mandated that every action hero wear leotards or dress as a toy shelf friendly rodent, men like Mike Banning are an increasingly rare commodity. In fact it’s almost a small miracle now that we’ve gotten two of these movies and that both of them have been good. London Has Fallen comes in like a sorely needed air dropped care package of manly movie goodness, complete with witty one liners and brutal but effective action. With its plot about a terror plot taking down a major western metropolis, it’s almost like the movie Live Free or Die Hard wanted to be. But that movie was soft and silly, whereas this movie has skinned knuckles and perforated eardrums.
Mike Banning is our modern day John McClane, he may not be precisely in the same league, but he will do. The movie plays out probably as you’d guess – a terror plot aims to bring down as many western leaders as possible in London, at the funeral of the British Prime Minister. Naturally, they reckon it would be a good time to stiff the POTUS, but they did not reckon on Agent Mike Banning ruthlessly taking out their foot soldiers, “head back to fuckheadistan”, he advises. To keep us somewhat on our toes, the opening salvo is launched by white men acting as what we thought was part of the security apparatus. From there it’s cat and mouse, stab and shoot, as Banning quarterbacks Aaron Eckhart’s equally wisecracking head honcho.
You know, I’ve seen people critisize the plot for being outlandish. But here is what bothers me… the story in this movie is no less digestible than the story of, say, The Dark Knight Rises, where a man dressed as a rodent averts a preposterous conspiracy against the city of Gotham and its denizens. And yet the same ‘critics’ apparently have different standards depending on whatever way trendy dicta suggests. Whatever, man.
Back to London Has Fallen.
This movie is a major player for 2016’s manly movie slate. I mean the action is brisk but brutal. It has cool chase sequences, where real bikes end up in real smashes and all of it is filmed in a nice and lucid way. Yes, there is some shaking camera work, but the type that is near imperceptible, as in there to contribute to the experience, not to define it. Gerard Butler is once again a likeable action man, with an appreciation that old school brute force resolutions are okay in a movie and that there is no need to turn your nose up at it. I like this guy, I’d nominate him as a worthy successor to our old favourites from the 20th century.
Complaints? Not many, but the CGI annoyed me here and there. Perhaps the fireball explosions were the worst and this is a problem carried over from the previous movie. Fire, it’s a hard thing to replicate and pulling down famous landmarks with substandard imagery might well have been avoided. However, the bottom line is that this is a damn fine movie and I can’t wait to review it again on Blu-Ray.
When that time comes, I’ll be pouring some bourbon and eating a giant slab of steak.