Starring Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Morgan Freeman, Alon Moni Aboutboul, Angela Bassett, Robert Forster, Melissa Leo, Radha Mitchell, Charlotte Riley, Jackie Earle Haley, Sean O'Brien. Directed by Babak Najafi. (2016, 99 min).
Sometimes you just gotta have McDonald's.
It's obviously not the finest cuisine, but one thing is certain: wherever life takes you, down the road or across the sea, a Quarter Pounder will always taste like a Quarter Pounder, no matter what McDonald's you walk into. Your local five-star bistro may have a better reputation, but can sometimes be a crapshoot, depending on how adventurous you are when ordering (or the mood of the chef that day). If you’re simply looking to have your hunger sated, there are times when unwavering consistency trumps food quality.
London Has Fallen, the sequel to 2013's surprisingly successful Olympus Has Fallen, is sort of like going to the drive-thru and ordering that Quarter Pounder, a comparison actually intended as a supreme compliment. Like any sequel nobody was asking for, it won't earn any Oscar nominations, light-up the box office or stick with us for too long after consuming it. But if you enjoyed the first film (you have to admit Olympus Has Fallen was what A Good Day to Die Hard should have been but wasn't), London Has Fallen will not disappoint.
Most of the cast who survived the original returns for this one, which once-again has Secret Service agent Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) trying to protect President Benjamin Asher (Aaron Eckhart) from another crew of disgruntled terrorists, who've this-time laid siege on London. Once again, famous landmarks are obliterated with the best CGI possible with the budget. Once again, Morgan Freeman is on-hand (now the vice president) to offer ominous exposition while watching the events unfold from the safety of a control room. Once again, Banning is a one-man wrecking crew with an endless supply of ammo who shrugs-off combat wounds with a hiss and a grimace. Once again, a willing suspension of disbelief is required from the viewer to get any enjoyment out of the film.
If you're still reading this, you are likely one of those viewers. London Has Fallen serves-up a heaping-helping of explosive fun in its single-minded attempt to provide the same bang-for-the-buck as the original. Butler may not be quite as charismatic as Bruce Willis on a good day, but we like him enough to care whether or not he succeeds (though that’s never in question). In fact, the banter between his character and Eckhart’s actually lightens things up quite a bit. While seldom particularly clever, their dialogue in-between gunfights and explosions renders this sequel more amusing than the overall serious tone of the first film.
And kudos to everyone involved for keeping London Has Fallen as hardcore, visceral and bloody as the original. In this age when a Die Hard sequel can be defanged to earn a PG-13 rating to drag in the mallrat crowd, it’s nice to see at-least some folks in Hollywood still appear to understand what fans of this type of action are looking for.
London Has Fallen doesn’t offer a single surprise or make any attempt to challenge the intellect. Right from the get-go, it aspires to be no-more than cinematic junk food, just like those times when we aren’t feeling particularly adventurous and head to McDonald’s because we know exactly what we’re getting for our money. It simply feels good and agreeable going down. While we may not walk out of the theater feeling stimulated, we're at-least satisfied.