London Has Fallen: Review


Of the two White House-set actioners to have been released in 2013, Olympus Has Fallen was the one I would have least liked to have seen get a sequel. Three-years later though, whilst there’s no sight nor sound of a White House Down 2 in the works, the sequel to Olympus Has Fallen comes to us in the form of the abhorrent and mean-spirited London Has Fallen.

With Iranian director Babak Najafi taking over directorial duties from Antoine Fuqua, it feels like Najafi has missed the joke. Feautring lines such as “How about you and I play a game of fuck off? You go first”, the original never felt like a film that took itself seriously; it was a silly b-movie, reminiscent of the testosterone-fuelled action movies of the 80s. 

However, the follow-up feels strangely sombre and ridiculously self-righteous, brining with it so many dodgy racial stereotypes that it feels like it was made by a certain bewigged presidential candidate. Whereas the paper-thin depiction of the Korean terrorists at the centre of Olympus Has Fallen was mostly harmless, this deliberately and disgustingly targets Muslims as a bearded, barbaric threat to civilisation as we know it. 

“Why don’t you guys pack up your shit and go back to fuckhead-istan” is just one example of the bile that comes out of Gerard Butler’s mouth during what is easily the most uncomfortable cinematic experience I’ve had in some time. To say London Has Fallen feels like blatant American propaganda, is an understatement on a par with the giant explosions that destroy various London landmarks in the film.

Whilst we’ve come to expect a certain amount of flag-waving from these types of movies, London Has Fallen takes it much further – Butler’s hyper-macho Mike Banning essentially throws the flag to one side, just so he can throttle the terrorists with his bare hands whilst making a speech about the glory that is America. Other issues include the use of drone warfare, which is advertised rather than debated, and a moment in which Butler’s character identifies a potential threat based on their race. 

At no point does the film try to subvert the stereotype, seemingly content in stewing in its putrid, racist filth. It’s a crying shame because, whilst the troublesome politics are off, the action is far better this time around – a helicopter attack over London being a particular rush, as is the final showdown which creates the illusion of being shot in one take. 

For all of its thrills, London Has Fallen is unequivocally racist and misjudged to the point where it’s hard to recommend to anybody. It’s the type of scaremongering propaganda that is dangerous to put on the big screen; it isn’t funny, it isn’t clever and everyone involved should be ashamed of themselves. 

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