Starring: Gerard Butler, Alon Aboutboul, Waleed Zuaiter, Aaron Eckhart, Angela Bassett, Morgan Freeman, Mehdi Dehbi, Colin Salmon, Jackie Earle Haley, Charlotte Riley, and many more.
Directed by: Babak Najafi Screenplay by: Creighton Rothenberger, Katrin Benedikt, Christian Gudegast, and Chad St. John Story by: Creighton Rothenberger and Katrin Benedikt Cinematography by: Ed Wild Music by: Trevor Morris
Premise: With his wife pregnant and the baby almost due, Mike Banning is seriously considering leaving the secret service. Before he can send his resignation, he's called back from vacation when the unexpected death of the Prime Minister forces the White House to make hasty plans to attend the funeral. Unfortunately, someone circuitously arranged the death in order to get the world's top leaders in the same city to enact their revenge for a drone strike two years before. Once again, Mike must do his utmost to keep the President of the United States alive and in one piece even as London falls around them. (Rated R)
1) Acting - Total Thumbs Up: Gerard Butler reprises his role as tough secret service agent Mike Banning. It is lots of fun watching him go from easy going, worried parent to be, to cold and efficient secret service agent. Alon Aboutboul treads the line nicely between monster and wronged parent. Waleed Zuaiter also gives a good performance as the spearhead of his father's revenge. Aaron Eckhart has some lovely repartee with Gerard Butler and eloquently shows his civilian, father, and president faces, even digging deep to emulate the calm of those trying to protect him. Wished they'd done a little more with Colin Salmon though - have been loving his work on the TV series Limitless. :)
2) Special Effects - Total Thumbs Up: There are a ton of special effects in the film. London has explosions at multiple locations - so they get to destroy several historical parts of the city (and it's not even Dr. Who or Christmas!). :P Most of the explosions were nicely done. A lot of the collateral damage from the concussions blasts was very well done. Showing us several of the locations at the end undergoing "repairs" was a nice touch and added to the believability factor.
A ton of bullets fly in all manner of places. Grenades, rocket launches, stinger missiles, and more make an appearance. There are chase scenes on foot, in vehicles, with motorcycles - and close up fights inside buildings - all of them with bullets flying everywhere!
The helicopter scenes were also quite nice. Can't say too much though. Wouldn't want to spoil the fun. :)
3) Plot/Story - Thumbs Up: This is an action and shoot 'em up film so you shouldn't expect too much from the plot. They did set it up nicely - giving some backstory on the bad guys to justify the extremes taken (even if it was rather cliche). (Amazing how it's okay to do things to others, but suddenly it's bad when it happens to you!) They gave us a look at Mike's normal life and his relationship with the president so we got a feel for them as people (and also eliminates the need to have seen the first film to enjoy this one). They even put Mike at a crossroads as he's trying to figure out what he should do now that he's about to become a parent for the first time. (This makes for a lovely and touching scene with the president deep in the film.) Family, parenting, and choices are big themes in the film.
The setup and execution of the Big Plan seemed well thought out. You have to love it when the mastermind is surprised when things actually go his way on almost all counts. :) (Most real plans hardly ever go off without a hitch.) :P There were other little details that were subtle but well thought out and gave some heft to the story (like the French President purposely delaying his arrival as a small political slight to the Brits - not that it helped him any!) And some actually funny moments - as the characters attempt to defuse the seriousness of their situation.
The only hang ups for me were the population and possibly the depth of the infiltration. Some of the cops and other service people could have been easily inserted with the proper uniforms and fake IDs (something the mole had access to) especially as an occasion such as this would have brought many precincts together that would not necessarily know each other. But the infiltration of men into the Queen's Guard was harder to swallow.
The city of London is a super crowded metropolis - one which would have had tens of thousands of people crowding the streets for blocks around for the funeral. Yet they seemed to disappear rather quickly, despite the fact rapid transit had no power and most would have been stuck there with no place to go except the subway stations or a pub. (Would have made for a lot more trouble and collateral damage, so I can see why they fidged there - especially for the subway scenes!)
Oh and one other big cliche/warning sign - if the characters are in a vehicle and think they got through something bad and start congratulating themselves for surviving, this is a screaming clue a car/truck/bus is about to hit them from the side. lol. Mike Banning would know better. :P
4) Stunts - Total Thumbs Up: Stunts, stunts, and more stunts! The chase scenes were great. Some new ways to get rid of pursuers on motorcycles. Heh heh.
Loads of lovely hand to hand combat scenes and shooting scenes. Loved the detail given to what gun Mike used when making his way in the final building - switching from an AK-47 to his .45 and back again depending on where he was and how much room he had. Nicely done!
Another lovely scene was Mike and the cavalry making their way down the street towards the building full of bad guys: shots, rockets, burning cars galore yet the group moved in smooth precision, shooting, taking cover, crisscrossing each other, moving ever forward. Loved it!
5) Locations/Cinematography - Total Thumbs Up: The film had several unusual and neat shots here and there. Air Force One gliding over a long field of clouds, the gorgeous location for Aamir Barkawi's compound, the long shot of the park after the helicopter has come down, aerial shots of different parts of London and many of its landmarks. Locations for the film were in the UK, Bulgaria, and Romania.
Conclusion: London Has Fallen sets up the scene and then dives into the action like a rollercoaster down a steep hill. Lots of great chase scenes and close quarter combat. Even tries to rouse some American pride! :P
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 (Hubby's Rating: Worth Full Price of Admission)