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Movie Night – ‘London Has Fallen’ provides nothing new, but entertaining (March 16, 2016 issue)

By Bradley Griffith

War-torn London.  That’s a strange thing to say or even think about.  Yet, that’s what happens to the great metropolis in “London Has Fallen,” the sequel to the surprise hit of 2013, “Olympus Has Fallen.”  The action-packed sequel is now playing on the silver screen.

When we last saw Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) he was a disgraced Secret Service agent who had rushed into the White House to protect President Benjamin Asher (Aaron Eckhart) from a terrorist attack.  Banning saved the day by rescuing the president and preventing the United States from becoming a nuclear wasteland.

As “London Has Fallen” opens Banning is back on the presidential detail.  In fact, he is the number one agent assigned to protect President Asher.  Banning is also about to be a dad for the first time.  He’s contemplating resigning from the Secret Service so he can be home more often after his baby is born.  While Banning is trying to decide his future the British prime minister dies of an apparent heart attack.  The president wants to go to London for the funeral, and he insists on Banning being there to protect him.

The Secret Service is understandably concerned about the trip because they had no advance warning and no way to plan properly for the president’s protection.  Regardless, the president insists on going to the funeral of the prime minister of our oldest and staunchest ally.

But President Asher is not the only head of state attending the funeral.  The leaders of France, Canada, Italy, Germany, and many other countries have traveled to London for the funeral.  Banning knows that security for such an event with so many world leaders in attendance is a nightmare.

Banning is proven right when a band of terrorists unveil their plot to kill as many world leaders as possible to throw the world into chaos and to exact revenge on the United States.  The mastermind of the plot, Aamir Barkawi (Alon Aboutboul), wants to capture President Asher xand execute him on live TV across the globe.  As many world leaders are killed and London is turned into a war zone with all civilians off the streets, Banning fights to keep President Asher alive.

If you liked “Olympus Has Fallen” then you will like its sequel.  “London Has Fallen” brings back many of the same characters, only it drops them in London rather than the White House.  The film uses the same formula as its predecessor and virtually all action movies that came before it: the good guys are outgunned and outmanned and faced with impossible situations that they survive through a combination of skill and luck.  “London Has Fallen” doesn’t break new ground, but it is entertaining.

While the plot of the movie isn’t exactly original, the location of the movie in London does add a different feel to the film.  We have seen the White House destroyed in many movies from “Olympus Has Fallen” to “Independence Day,” and we have seen the Statue of Liberty under duress in movies such as “The Day After Tomorrow” and “Planet of the Apes.”  While those scenes can be disturbing, they are old hat to moviegoers and have lost some of their effect.

But seeing London destroyed is a much rarer scene and no movie does is as well as “London Has Fallen.”  The destruction of many London landmarks and the battle on London streets is disconcerting and provokes anger at Barkawi and his minions, which is exactly what the filmmakers were trying to accomplish.

“London Has Fallen” is a mindless action flick that provides exactly what you would expect from an action movie.  If you’re looking for a serious drama or thriller, this is not your movie.  But if you want gun battles and explosions with some random violence thrown in to entertain you for a couple of hours, this is your movie.

Grade: B+

Rated R for strong violence and language throughout.