Wednesday 2 March 2016

London Has Fallen ... A new Rambo

THIS is the second Gerard Butler film that I've seen in less than a week, and I'm sorry to say the neither one struck a chord with me. Gods of Egypt has Butler at his bombastic best, while director Babak Najafi's London Has Fallen has Butler doing his best Rambo impersonation, as no amount of bullets and explosions can bring him down.
  I used to wonder how Rambo (Sylvester Stallone) went through his escapades untouched, and I'm wondering again how Secret Service agent Mike Banning (Butler) is practically invincible as he attempts to save the life of US President Benjamin Asher (Aaron Eckhart) in London.

  It's preposterous to think that Muslim terrorists could slip into London unnoticed and plan  assassinations of such a grand and ludicrous magnitude. The UK is on high alert for Brits returning from fighting for IS in Iraq and Syria, so it's unimaginable that it could have missed a plot to kill so many foreign heads of state.
   What's even more risible is that the terrorists have disguised themselves as policemen and emergency services personnel, giving them a great vantage point to shoot at the US president.
   This film is a sequel to 2013's Olympus Has Fallen, in which Banning, trapped at the White House, saves Asher from a terrorist attack.
   Banning is fit and strong and can outrun Asher on their early-morning jogs.
Presidential disaster for Aaron Eckhart and Gerard Butler.
  Banning's wife Leah (Radha Mitchell) is just about to give birth and our hero is contemplating resigning to spend time with the family. But the British PM's sudden demise necessitates a state burial with the presence of foreign dignitaries.
   Secret Service director Lynne Jacobs (Angela Bassett) asks Banning whether he can do the job, considering the short amount of time needed to prepare for the president's trip. Banning says yes, so when the Secret Service does an autopsy of the attack, it should blame Banning for giving the green light.
   The terrorist in question is arms dealer Aamir Barkawai (Israeli Alon Aboutbol), whose is keen on exacting revenge on the US as a US drone missile hit his daughter's wedding two years ago.
  Barkawi is blamed for a rebel attack that killed 44 Filipino cops. This is based on a real incident that took place in January 2015, in which 44 Filipino cops were killed in a manhunt for Malaysian bomb-maker Zulkifli Abdhir and MILF members.
   Barkawi has time to mix business and pleasure at the wedding: "Vengeance must be profound and absolute," he said. He's another one of those arms dealers blamed by Hollywood for wreaking havoc on the world, much like the baddies in Iron Man and White House Down.
  However, credit goes to the director for staging the London attack, because the editing and sound
Butler has tunnel vision.
mixing will put viewers in the middle of a large-scale attack. In one scene, the camera follows Banning in mostly half-shots as he proceeds down a dark street amid explosions and whizzing bullets.
   A dying US official tells Asher: "Make those f------ pay." This instigates viewers to vicariously experience Banning's adventures and support his violence.
  This film was made before the November 2015 Paris attacks but Barkawi says something that sounds prophetic: "We're bringing the war to you."
  This statement will make intelligence and anti-terror units worldwide cringe as they've been walking on eggshells since last year's attacks.
   Morgan Freeman reprises his role as avuncular Vice-President Trumbull. This is a role that Freeman can play in his sleep as he displays his calmness amid a high-pressure situation.
   Asher, meanwhile, depends on Banning for his survival. The director adds a small amount of realism when Asher says that his driving is atrocious, while evading gunfire, because he has been driven around by others for the past six years.
    That, however, is as real as things will ever get because the two men can even make small talk amid the destruction going on around them. Banning asks Asher what the latter instilled in his son. "Treat others the way you like to be treated," said Asher.
  I don't know if this is unintentional, but isn't it ironic that the US and its allies' decision to attack Barkawi has returned to bite their asses?
    Another preposterous event in the film is the terrorists' goal of wanting to capture Asher and behead him and broadcast the event live on the Internet.
    Even though beheadings are the preferred way for IS to execute people, it's simply ridiculous that the filmmaker would think of something like this. Also, it's not as if the US is innocent of committing ghastly crimes.
   Our hero Banning has a one-track mind. His sole goal is to save the president and nothing will prevent him from carrying out his duties. He doesn't even have time to reflect on his pregnant wife back home, which is strange. He shows no fear and even has time to crack a couple of jokes with Asher.
   London Has Fallen, while uninspired and insipid, has a strong message for terrorists. I'm paraphrasing  Banning, who says that the US will still be here at the end, no matter how hard and long they attack Western civilisation.
2 out of 5 stars



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