08 March 2016

Film Review: London Has Fallen

London Has Fallen is one of the greatest comedies of the last decade. The way it juxtaposes what should be an incredibly tense plot with an unexpected levity and incredibility lifts what could be a moody thriller to a thoroughly easy-going and relaxing watch. I haven't laughed this much at the cinema in a very long time, and I'd happily recommend this film for that reason alone.

I should clarify. The production is very good and Gerard Butler is probably strong as sturdy Presidential security chief Mike. Director Babak Najafi is clearly doing his best with the material too, as evidenced by the an extremely impressive sequence in the final third where Mike and some random soldiers approach the building where the American President is being held (I did mention that bit right?). I would've loved to the camera operator for this scene, as it's continuous and they dive through the action, looking all round. It's the best bit of editing and visual effects and frankly everything in the whole film - not even spoiled by Butler's cringe-inducing cry of "RPG!".

The problem with this film, what makes it laughable, is its script. It's utterly clich├ęd and ridiculous at almost every turn. No character has a proper personality and everyone seems monumentally thick, thoughts only occurring to them at opportune plot moments. Knowing what happens in the film won't spoil your enjoyment, which is gained solely from watching how things play out. So basically the British Prime Minister is murdered (although we don't initially know that, it's pretty obvious) and world leaders assemble for his funeral in an unrealistically short period of time. As revenge for a drone strike on his family two years earlier, some bloke in the Middle East (or 'Fuckheadistan' as Mike so delicately puts it) picks all of them off except the President because America Is Great.

They survive for quite a while in a London plagued by a surprisingly large number of enemies, who are also remarkably well-organised. The White House should seriously consider hiring their logistics manager to run security of events like this; whoever it was is obviously extremely talented. After another thinly-veiled commentary on how useless the Brits are when an MI6 safehouse (much more luxurious than the ones you see on Spooks or James Bond) is compromised, the President does some driving and is then captured. Then the hero American goes solo into the lion's den and nearly kills POTUS. But then he goes back home and his baby's born and he gets time off work and he's a hero and isn't America Great.

There isn't much content in this, and it's nowhere near thrilling enough to be labelled a thriller. It's mindless junk, filling a hole in the schedules. The explosions look a bit crap, the audio in Colin Salmon and Morgan Freeman's scenes is about five or six frames out of sync and the dialogue is atrociously laughable. Everyone is pulling their weight but the screenwriters Creighton Rothenberger, Katrin Benedikt, Chad St. John and Christian Gudegast let them all down. Yes, it somehow took four people to come up with this dross.

I didn't know where to put this, but I've been reliably informed that the London geography makes no sense either. Oh and the CGI helicopters are a bit '80s Doctor Who.

Sadly, this will soon be forgotten if it hasn't already been. It deserves to be remembered as a benchmark for how a film can have so much talent associated with it and still be so shit, but also as how what was probably pitched as the most tense, edge-of-the-seat movie since the dawn of time turned into the greatest comedy Hollywood has produced in quite a while, all the better for being unintentional. All it's missing is Clayton Hickman and Gareth Roberts putting a laughter track on it as they did so successfully with a Four to Doomsday clip which I wanted to link to but has now been blocked by BBC Worldwide. Unquestionably crap, Budget Has Fallen - sorry, London Has Fallen - is a deliriously enjoyable film for all the wrong reasons.

I always forget what a nice shade of purple that 2/10 icon has, so reminding me is another thing to be grateful to this film for.

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