London Has Fallen is the highly improbable sequel to the highly improbable Olympus Has Fallen. Read on to find out if you should take the little ones.
1. What’s it about?
Several years ago, two competing movies about attacks on the White House opened at roughly the same time. While I won’t try to pretend that either of them are great films, I will admit to having enjoyed watching both. I’ll also admit to having them thoroughly confused in my mind. One of them had the President trapped in the bunker, and the Secret Service guy had a daughter in one. There was a big chase in the front lawn of the White House and something about the Presidential limo falling off a bridge. Those might be scenes from both movies or perhaps all of them were from the same movie. I’m not sure, and honestly it doesn’t even matter. And it seems like Morgan Freeman was the guy who kept the government running in both, but if that isn’t the case it should have been.
Both movies ended with all of the bad guys dead, the President safe, the White House in ruins, and a Secret Service agent as the Big Hero. Neither of them particularly lent themselves to a sequel, but this being Hollywood of course one of them got one anyway.
London Has Fallen takes place a few years after Olympus Has Fallen, which I definitely remember being the title to one of the movies. It’s also possible it was the title of both. The movie doesn’t really say how long it’s been, but enough time has passed that the White House has been completely rebuilt, Morgan Freeman is now Vice President, and President Aaron Eckhart and Secret Service Agent Gerard Butler are now BFFs.
This movie opens with a too-long sequence about a drone strike at a Middle Eastern wedding and Butler debating his future with the Service, mostly due to his wife’s pregnancy. (Did he have a wife in the first one? Maybe. Or maybe he did in the other one. Who knows.) After they finally decide to get the real movie started, the British Prime Minister suddenly dies, prompting the leaders of the Free World to descent on London for the funeral. Once they arrive, a massive terrorist attack ensues. All of the other leaders are quickly killed. President Eckhart, though, is forced to flee on foot through the streets of London, with only Agent Butler to protect him.
2. Does anything in the movie make sense?
Reread the last sentence of the paragraph above and you’ll have your answer: not in the slightest. In the moments before the attack begins, we’re told that the Prime Minister’s funeral is about to begin at St. Paul’s Cathedral just as the President’s motorcade arrives. And yet at that moment, the Prime Minister of Canada is still driving through London in what looks like a car he rented from Hertz at the airport. The President of France is sitting in a boat on the Thames with basically no protection (and no explanation as to why exactly he’s on boat.) Germany’s Prime Minister is standing in front of Buckingham Palace for no apparent reason at all while the elderly Prime Minister of Italy is on top of one of the towers at Westminster Abbey with his 30-year-old girlfriend. And best of all: the Prime Minister of Japan is literally stuck in traffic on a London bridge (but not the London Bridge.) Each leader is conveniently located near a recognizable landmark that can also get destroyed. That was very considerate of them.
Why are all these folks scattered around the city playing tourist instead of maybe just being where they’re supposed to be? Well, mostly because director Babak Najafi and the movie’s four screenwriters weren’t about to let a little thing like logic get in the way of having an excuse to blow up stuff.
3. OK, but is it fun?
Yes. As I said above, it takes a bit to get going, but once it does it never lets up. If you’re really, really, really good at suspending your disbelief, you’ll enjoy the movie. Alternatively, if you like watching stuff explode and lots of people shoot lots of other people, you’ll also enjoy it.
On the other hand, if you feel the need to think about the movie you’re watching even a little bit, then you should probably skip this.
4. What’s it rated? Why?
The movie is rated R for “strong language and violence throughout.”
It’s clear that f*** is not just the writers’ favorite swear word. It’s possibly their favorite word ever, because the characters in the movie drop it like it’s going out of fashion.
And violence? Well, yeah. It’s hard to get a real idea of the movie’s body count, but it’s in the many dozens. However, there’s only one particularly bloody scene and no real gore. It’s all people getting shot and blown up.
There’s no sex or even sexual situations. There are three main female characters: Mitchell, Angela Bassett as Butler’s boss, and Charlotte Riley as an MI-6 agent. While Mitchell is really just Butler’s pregnant wife (but, to the filmmaker’s credit, they did give 46-year-old Butler an age-appropriate wife with 42-year-old Mitchell.) The other two are strong professional women who are there to do their job, not be a love interest.
5. Will the kids like it?
I’m guessing older teens probably will. Younger viewers may get bored in the beginning, and I for one would have hesitated to introduce my younger kids to that much violence. I’d say as well that younger viewers might be confused by it, but honestly that holds true for older kids and adults as well.
6. Are the effects decent at least?
Early on they do a good job with the effects. But it seemed like they ran out of money to pay their effects people about half way through, because the explosions in particular became less and less realistic as the movie went along.
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