‘An insult to London, the global terror threat and the art of cinema’
Rarely have I felt so let down with a film even with such low expectations to begin with. London has Fallen captures everything that’s wrong with the world in ways the film probably never intended.
First of all, let me say that if you’re looking for an action film that keeps things simple, ticks along at a good pace and the good guys beat the bad guys, then you won’t be too disappointed with it. It’s an enjoyable enough movie on the surface with the Hollywood production values you come to expect and an A list cast of American actors to provide the necessary jingoism.
However, as I’m not one of those people and tend to overthink these things, this film bothered me immensely. As a born and bred Londoner, my main reason for seeing this film was to see what my home city would look like when half blown to bits. There are some stunning moments of CGI that the production team definitely deserve credit for. Without giving the plot away, it is a disturbing experience to watch such momentous landmarks and familiar streets blown to smithereens.
Beyond this, a simple plot emerges which is barely worth mentioning. Following on from Olympus has fallen, we begin with Gerard Butler’s secret service agent Mike Banning resuming his wankfest bromance with the President (Aaron Eckhart). Dear Mike, weary of his secret service life and wanting to bring up his newborn child with his one dimensional wife is writing up his resignation letter when news comes in from London that the Prime Minister has died of a heart attack. Plans are scheduled for all the major world leaders to attend the state funeral at St Paul’s and Mike puts his time off on hold. You don’t need me to tell you that the trip had a few ‘challenges’ and the president’s life is put at risk. Blah blah, explosions, cheesy jokes, more explosions blah blah, America f*** yeah. The end.
So where do I start with my many annoyances with this film?
Purely as an act of film-making, it’s an average film that could have been better. The acting is mediocre and there are too many cardboard cut-out generic characters that are entirely forgettable. The plot is predictable and the film is riddled with clichés. It’s unfair to single out just this film but in a year where controversy in the Oscars was rife, we have a film here flying in under the radar where the ‘token’ ethnic actors were killed off early and had no influence in proceedings. The terrorists are generic Arab looking bad guys. Arms dealers who’ve been wronged by the Americans and want to bring down the West. We learn barely anything of their backstory and what has led them down this path.
The world’s leaders are ridiculous caricatures of recognizable figures on the world scene. We see a frumpy German chancellor and a sleazy Berlusconi type nibbling at his lover’s ear.Even the UK, America’s so called oldest and most trusted ally, is patronized throughout. None of the British actors are given enough screen time to have a serious role and the interim prime minister is barely heard from after the first 20 minutes of the film.
MI5 and MI6, with some of the most sophisticated intelligence units in the world, somehow let this ludicrous situation occur. It’s an entirely unrealistic portrayal of how an event like this would happen and seems to suggest that the Ministry of Defence is incompetent and was asleep at the wheel for an entire 2 years.
I appreciate that Hollywood isn’t always the place for an intelligent depiction of the highly complex situation we find ourselves in today, with global terror such a serious threat. Yet, at best the film insults the intelligence of its audience by its black and white portrayal of terror.At worst it provides dangerous support for the eye for an eye approach and the dehumanization of the foreigner at a time where the most xenophobic president of the United states in living memory could be sworn in this year.
In this way I think it’s an irresponsible piece of film-making. Terrorists are created by the conditions around them. As the phrase goes ‘One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter’. Even the final statement, despite the wonderful tones of Morgan Freeman’s voice, offer a depressing insight into the inevitability of anti-Western terrorism continuing for the foreseeable future because of the utter lack of self-awareness of the United States government.
This is a propaganda film at its basest form. Although the film is clearly intended for a particular audience, it shows why so many people are so irritated with American cultural Imperialism and the attitudes that do nothing to quell the hatred that a dangerous but sadly growing minority have for American and ‘Western’ values.
One of the ironies of this film is that the All American action hero we’re all rooting for, is actually an actor born in Northern Ireland. If there was more British influence for a film set in Britain, then maybe this film could have been an interesting and refreshing addition to the genre.