– Village Roadshow, Release 17th March 2016
London Has Fallen has a very contemporary plot – a real threat that could well happen today. The British Prime Minister dies and powerful leaders from around the world gather in London to pay their respects. A logistical and security nightmare, it spurs a feeling of anticipation. The American president Benjamin Asher (Aaron Eckhart) is accompanied by his best secret service agent Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) who has typed a resignation letter on the brink of becoming a parent, but gets the call just before he hits send. Agent Lynne Jacobs (Angela Bassett) who seemingly has a history with Banning joins them.
An un-warned terrorist attack kills major world leaders, leaves London burning and the President missing. The rest of the film is a chase between the terrorists and the Presidential team of Butler and Eckhart. The stakes are highest when the terrorists want to publicly broadcast killing the President, who’d rather be killed by his Agent. Vice President Trumbull (Morgan Freeman) gets the responsibility of making the important decisions in the absence of the President, with the future of the world in his hands.
The film keeps a good pace, and doesn’t allow the audience to drop below the boredom threshold, despite some clichéd portrayals. The action and chase sequences are the most entertaining, pulling the reins of the story forward. Performances by all of the main cast are strong and work well as a unit without any one standing out. Good direction by Babak Najafi, who sticks to his action-thriller genre ties the film together.
A noteworthy aspect of the film is the number and the extent of clichés. The movie begins with the third word spoken being ‘terrorist’ and ‘Punjab Province, Pakistan’ on screen. The casting and shots of the terrorists are strategic – for example, a side shot of a moving man’s beard implying he’s an Islamic terrorist. In today’s Islamophobic world, the film only serves to drive these stereotypes further and create a negative impression about Islam and terrorism. Surprising, coming from the Iranian born director. The larger cliché of white western males being heroes and others either playing negative or support roles is also apparent. And finally, the stereotypes portrayed by the Leaders of different countries – the missing Italian with a lady on the rooftop, the Japanese leader anxious of being late, and the Frenchman planning on being ‘fashionably late’ are subtly amusing.
While the movie presents a new idea on the contemporary issue of terrorism, a more responsible approach by new directors would help keep Islamophobia at bay. It would also be good to see different sides of the story being presented on big screen.
London Has Fallen, makes for an easy one time watch. The trailer can be viewed here.