In London for the Prime Minister’s funeral, Mike Banning discovers a plot to assassinate all the attending world leaders.
By now, the whole world should be familiar with “Die Hard.” It set the bar for action films back in 1988, making a star out of Bruce Willis and the late Alan Rickman in the process. The movie was so successful, two years later, 20th Century Fox released the inevitable sequel, the aptly titled, “Die Hard 2: Die Harder.” Even before part 3 came out five years later, people joked that it would either be titled “Die Hardest” or “Die Harderer.” Thankfully, neither title ever came to fruition. The thing about “Die Hard” is, after its worldwide success, many action films that came up in its rear-view mirror, were labelled imitations. For example, in 1991, Steven Seagal made “Under Siege,” which was nicknamed “Die Hard on a Ship,” four years later, Keanu Reeves made “Speed,” which was nicknamed “Die Hard on a Bus,” and the titles go on. Ironically enough, years later, it emerged that “Under Siege” actually took the premise that the original “Die Hard 3” story was meant to be, John McClane and his wife on a cruise ship that was to be taken hostage. In this case all I can say is, thank God for Steven Seagal.
When “Olympus Has Fallen” was released in 2013, it revitalized the “Die Hard” genre and actually did a damn fine job in the process. The less we say about the last two “Die Hard” films, the better but Gerard Butler has more than capably stepped into John McClane’s shoes and created a likable but flawed character. In the first movie, he played Mike Banning, a secret service agent and former presidential guard to Aaron Eckhart’s president Benjamin Asher. In the beginning of the movie, the two men have a falling out and while Banning has retired from the secret service, he’s within city limits and that’s a good thing because not long after, bad guys attack the White House, killing all of its secret service agents and armed guards and it’s up to Mike to save the day, Bruce Willis style.
This time around, we are re-introduced to much of the cast from the first movie but while Mike is back in the good graces of the president after saving the day previously, he and his wife Leah (Radha Mitchell), are preparing for their new baby which is due in the coming weeks. When the British Prime Minister passes away, presidents and premiers from countries all around the world prepare to visit London to pay their respects, including the United States. With Mike on the verge of handing in his notice, so he can spend more time with his family, he reluctantly decides to stay with the president for one more trip and it’s a good thing he does because once they reach London, cars blow up, choppers are shot out of the sky, innocent civilians lose their lives but Mike manages to get the president to safety. When they realize that there is a mole on the inside of British Intelligence, Mike has to resort to old-school techniques and must figure out a way to inform the U.S. that the president is alive, but with bad guys behind them every step of the way, Mike must use every trick in his book to stay ahead of them and to keep the president alive.
When the teaser trailer for “Die Hard 2: Die Harder” was released in early 1990, it had a bloody, beat-up Bruce Willis running through tunnels, with explosions in the background, while carrying his gun. As he runs past the camera he quips, “How can the same thing happen to the same guy twice?” Indeed. But it did happen. And he did save the world again. And again and again and again. And Gerard Butler has done the same thing here. “London Has Fallen” uses the exact same formula its predecessor utilized and because of that, the film works. We know going in what to expect so to change it completely around, would be a gargantuan mis-step for the filmmakers but thankfully, they let Mr. Butler take control, dole out some very witty one-liners in the process, kill lots of deserving bad guys, and actually destroy more buildings throughout London than the terrorists do. Mr. Butler oozes charisma and onscreen magnetism and you can’t help but like everything he does. “London Has Fallen” is an explosive, first-rate thriller that gets all of its action elements just right. It’s highly likely that some other city around the world will be chosen to fall for the inevitable sequel but in the meantime, have a blast with London.
In theaters March 4th
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