Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Gerard Butler Double: London Has Fallen

After checking out Gods of Egypt on Saturday, Tuesday night we ventured over to the Cinemark Playa Vista for Happy Hour at Hop Doddy's and Gerard Butler action flick London Has Fallen. Sequel to 2013's surprise 90's style action hit Olympus Has Fallen, London picks up three years later as President Asher (Aaron Eckhart) and top Secret Service agent Mike Banning (Butler) head across the pond for the Prime Minister's funeral but it's actually a trap set by vengeful terrorists from Pakistan. With access to the city cut off and multiple leaders assassinated, Banning and Asher hit the streets evading well armed baddies who want to execute the President live on the internet. Babak Najafi takes directing reins from premiere action helmer Antoine Fuqua and acquits himself nicely in the fast paced and highly violent flick. Original writers Creighton Rothenberger and Katrin Benedikt are joined by Christian Gudegast and Chad St. John on the $60 million budgeted affair. Olympus Has Fallen cast members Radha Mitchell, Morgan Freeman, Robert Forster, Angela Bassett and Melissa Leo return with new additions like Colin Salmon and Jackie Earle Haley who stand around in suits in war rooms.

While casual viewers could call Olympus and London Die Hard knock offs with the one, isolated man taking on an army motif, I think they more resemble Under Siege, the Die Hard on a boat film starring Steven Seagal which managed to be a solidly crafted and entertaining thriller in it's own right. With hard R violence, cursing, explosions and blood, London Has Fallen is an unabashed action flick that has little time for class but lots of space for mayhem. Like Olympus, some of the CGI is stodgy thanks to modern Cannon Films studio Nu Image/Millennium making an epic on a budget but there's close quarter combat, gunfights, car chases, one liners and dead bodies aplenty in the 99 minute runtime. There was something strangely patriotic about watching Scottsman Butler play an American tearing through the streets, homes, subways and embassies of London straight deading fools. It was a cinematic reminder that America kicks ass, so let them kick ass. It reminded me of Jesse Ventura's thoughts on having a smaller but better trained and equipped military who could take on threats versus part time Reservists simply to fill numbers. Like an 80's and 90's throwback, London Has Fallen takes a highly skilled individual with the drive to survive and conquer the enemy, cutting through red tape, taking care of the job and not being afraid of doing the Damme thing.

London opened with $21 million last weekend, down from Olympus' $29 million but also received an A- Cinemascore which should equate solid word of mouth. London has the action scene to itself for a few weeks before Batman VS Superman at the end of the month. Star and producer Butler has been promoting the film heavily on social media, TV and making appearances at military bases. We'll see if London has legs and what falls next aka gets blown up and stabbed to death.

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