Reviews of the Past: ‘London’ nothing but another big mess

london-has-fallen

BY ROGER THOMAS

I vaguely remember “Olympus Has Fallen.”
I watched it. I guess I remember enough about it that when I saw a television ad for “London Has Fallen,” I knew immediately that it was a sequel to “Olympus.” I concluded that based on the three lead actors: Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart and Morgan Freeman. Other than those three actors together in an action film, and the fact that the story took place at the White House, there is little good or bad about “Olympus Has Fallen” that I can recall.
In fact, while I was watching “London Has Fallen” I was reminded about elements of the first film. The President, played by Eckhart, mentions his son several times and I remembered his son was in the first film. The son never appears in this sequel. I also seem to recall the First Lady dies at the beginning of the original, therefore there is no president’s wife in this film. Those are about the only two things I could recall about the first film as I watched the second.
Fortunately for me, I can go back and look at my thoughts of “Olympus Has Fallen.” This is some of what I wrote in 2013 about the first “Fallen” movie: “This film is a by-the-numbers action thriller. The opening scenes with the attack on D.C. and the capturing of the White House are done well. But the first 10 minutes, which takes place a year before the attack, are more engaging than anything that happens in the rest of the film.
“Great effects amount to little when the story is so predictable. While we are on the subject of predictability, I wonder if anyone who sees this film believes the hero will not win in the end.”
That exact thought was there again the second time: Is there anyone in this theater who thinks there is a chance the hero will lose and the President will not survive? I will not reveal here if my prediction turns out to be accurate. But you can probably guess.
Beyond the predictability of “London Has Fallen,” there are other elements that troubled me. I do not remember all the carnage that happens to Washington D.C. in the first film, but as I watched all those grand historic structures in London, I found it troubling.
I know it is just effects and no buildings were harmed during the filming of “London Has Fallen.” However, as I watched these truly amazing structures being destroyed, I questioned how that could be entertaining for anyone. The point is moot.
For many years of cinema, aliens, terrorists and a whole host of other entities have destroyed precious monuments to excite audiences in the cinema. I suppose some were troubled by the devastated Statue of Liberty in the final scene of “Planet of the Apes.” These things have not troubled me before, but they did with this film.
Beyond the destruction of historical buildings, there is plenty of loss of life, though for an R-rated film, it was not as bloody as I expected it to be.
The three leads, Butler, Eckhart, and Freeman, do a fine job in their roles. However, Freeman and Eckhart have made so many extraordinary films it seems almost shameful for them to be a part of now two films that are simply messes. As for Butler, he has now starred in two of my least favorite films of 2016: “Gods of Egypt” and “London Has Fallen” and it is only March. He may have a few more flops before the year ends.
In conclusion, I hope nothing else “falls.” I am hoping this series ends with two films. If not, perhaps there can be less destruction on screen and more construction in the screenwriters’ office.

  Roger Thomas is a member of the North Carolina Film Critics Association. He reviews films for The Stanly News & Press.

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