‘London Has Fallen’: Strictly for Gerard Butler fans (IANS Review, Rating: **)

Film: “London Has Fallen”; Director: Babak Najafi; Cast: Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Morgan Freeman, Alon Moni Aboutboul, Angela Bassett, Robert Forster, Jackie Earle Haley, Melissa Leo, Radha Mitchell, Sean O’Bryan, Charlotte Riley and Waleed F. Zuaiter; Rating: **

Gerard Butler returns as Secret Service Agent Mike Banning in director Babak Najafi’s “London Has Fallen”, which is a sequel to director Antoine Fuqua’s 2013 action thriller, “Olympus Has Fallen”.

While both the films are deeply jingoistic, the earlier one had a simple and convincing story line and this one with its relentlessly kinetic action is laid on an unconvincing and implausible foundation which is predictable and difficult to digest. And this probably, is the cause of its fall.

In “Olympus Has Fallen”, Mike protected US President Benjamin Asher (Aaron Eckhart) from North Korean terrorists when they seized the most protected building in the world. In this edition, he protects the President during the “most protected event on earth”.

The event is the state funeral of British Prime Minister David James, who died under mysterious circumstances. The funeral is to be held at St. Paul’s Cathedral. And of course this occasion calls for the assemblage of world leaders, a pure set up for an impossibly complicated terrorist attack.

The terrorist here is Pakistani arms dealer Aamir Barkawi (Alon Moni Aboutboul), who engineers this massive attack that kills five world leaders, 125 civilians and destroys several landmarks in London.

The canvas of destruction here is much wider, the suave and sleek action, with cars and helicopters crashing, people getting killed with bullets, knives, bombs, vehicles and the old-fashioned throttling. Director Najafi aims squarely at an audience who like their action to be gory, brutal and rough.

On the performance front, Butler seems to have lost his sheen. Old, tired and worn-out, he does not inspire the confidence of an invincible superhero. Torn between his professional and personal life, he executes his emotions in a rather dull manner.

Aaron Eckhart as President Benjamin Asher, Morgan Freeman as Vice President Allan Trumbull, Melissa Leo as Secretary of Defense and Angela Bassett as Secret Service Director Lynn Jacobs are all perfunctory.

Alon Moni Aboutboul as Aamir Barkawi and Waleed F. Zuaiter as his son, who lead the attack in London, bring a novelty factor to this otherwise staid set-up. Their menacing demeanour is palpable.

On the technical front, designer Joel Collins has done an excellent job in replicating London, recreating Sana’a in Yemen and the huge set in the Punjab province of Pakistan. The visuals are beautifully captured by cinematographer Ed Wild. His frames seamlessly merge with Sean Farrow’s computer-generated effects.

Paul Martin Smith and Michael Duthie’s edits are worth a mention and the background score by Trevor Morris definitely elevates the viewing experience.

Overall, “London Has Fallen” will appeal only to Gerard Butler’s fans and those who like action-video games that deal with shooting and stabbing.

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