Sunday Bloody Awful Sunday – London Has Fallen (2016)

Sometimes you look at the release schedule for the calendar year and think to yourself, “Why and how did this get made?” London Has Fallen is one of those things that make you wonder. Its predecessor, Olympus Has Fallen, received middling reviews and wasn’t exactly a cash cow, pulling in nearly $170.3 million worldwide on a $70 million budget while not facing much box office competition. These usually aren’t the sort of numbers that give a studio much confidence in green-lighting a sequel, and yet, London Has Fallen exists anyway.

Though the production budget was scaled back by $10 million, London Has Fallen still faced an uphill battle, with Deadpool opening massively two weeks prior, opening against Zootopia and with Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice entering the picture at the end of the month. Even with those kind of odds, the film made off even better than the first, taking in nearly $205.8 million, and though the domestic numbers dropped by around $36 million, international sales skyrocketed around twofold. Critical reaction, however, wasn’t nearly as flattering as the first time around. And after having seen it myself, I ask, “Why did more people go see this pile of garbage,” almost begging for a reasoned response.

First things first: no one is heading into these movies expecting to take it seriously. Each of the films’ premises reeks of a stale idea for a Die Hard sequel, and the formulaic subplot of a disgraced macho man redeeming himself through acts of violence and saving the day is about as tried and true a cliché Hollywood has to spoon feed its audience. These are dumbed-down action movies with unpretentious motives, no more, no less. In the right frame of mind, these sorts of films make for enjoyable viewing, but one of the reasons London Has Fallen stands out as an utter trash heap is its laziness.

Yes, laziness is implied when describing something as ‘dumbed-down’, but boy is London Has Fallen something special. The editing makes each action sequence fairly incomprehensible, which is saying something considering the staging alone makes it confusing enough; the stimulating feeling of not quite knowing all of those who are good or evil makes the initial terrorism carnage porn is a disasterpiece. And though there isn’t much to be expected from the dialogue, one would at least hope that a dumb action thriller has at least one moment of cheesy greatness. Instead, it’s often substandard, overly expositional and pretty damn racist, or with racist/xenophobic undertones.

In London Has Fallen, Secret Service agent Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) and President Benjamin Asher (Aaron Eckhart) roam the streets of London evading a terrorist cell from capturing the President and killing him on live streaming. Our villains from the Middle East intend to gain revenge on the tyranny of the West by killing the mostly white leaders of Western society, including the Prime Ministers of Canada, Japan and the United Kingdom, as well as the German Chancellor and French President. So naturally, the Americans have to swoop in to save day against the evil foreign, non-Caucasian menace.

The sort of fear-mongering this movie promotes has no place in an enlightened society. Just think how poorly this must have played almost half a year after the attacks in Paris, and in the aftermath of the Brussels attacks, Brexit and this country’s presidential election. It is but the only saving grace that London is 20 minutes shorter than Olympus. If there’s any proof that money talks, Angel Has Fallen is expected to begin production this year. And in all likelihood, it will be released in March just like the first two, because the studio believes in it enough not to put it in January or February, but recognizes it’s too ridiculously, preposterously horrendous to let it compete with the big boys and girls of the summer. You all remember my review of The Player, right?

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